Friday, January 21, 2011

Review Crew: Speekee

"Vamos a bailar!"

For the past month or so, we've had access to online video Spanish lessons from Speekee, a UK company that has aims to provide immersion-style Spanish instruction via online video lessons as well as PAL-compatible DVDs (this is primarily a European encoding system, so check your DVD player first before investing in the DVD sets).  Online subscriptions are $7.50 per month (the first two weeks are free).

The product.  Speekee is geared for ages 2-10 according to the website.  In all, there are ten thematic units/ lessons/ episodes which introduce children to basic, simple vocabulary as well as simple sentences.  Themes are:

  • The park

  • The cafe

  • The house

  • The zoo

  • The classroom

  • The market

  • The station (travel)

  • The beach

  • The garden

  • The party

  • There is plenty of review and reinforcement provided by Speekee, a purple ... um.... animal, of some sort;
    Jim, a friendly adult; two sock puppets, Dino and Lupi; and a cast of Spanish speaking youngsters.  The characters often sing, dance, and move around a lot to engage the children visually as well as encourage comprehension skills.

    Each lesson is approximately 20 minutes long.  You can choose to have Spanish and English subtitles display at the bottom of the screen, or you can turn them off -- it is easily controlled at the upper right corner of the video screen.

    After each lesson, there are .pdf printables for you and your child to complete, which reinforce the lesson vocabulary, sentences, and give the child practice writing in Spanish.  Additional tips are provided on this page which give parents other suggestions for extending lessons into daily life.

    Note:  this is Spain Spanish, not Latin American Spanish.  I've been told that the biggest difference at this level is a slightly difference in pronunciation.

    Our experience.  I have had dreams of waking up one morning and resurrecting my high school Spanish skills to provide a day of immersion language instruction to my kids.  With a smile and a warm plate of food, I'd ask my sons, "Quieres huevos? (Do you want eggs?)"  They would look at the plate, see what was there, nod their head and repeat after me, "Si, quieros huevos, por favor. Gracias. (Yes, I want eggs, please.  Thank you."  Alas, this has yet to happen.

    Instead, I excitedly sat down with all three boys to watch Speekee. My children aren't to keen about talking to a TV/ computer screen (never have been -- even when Dora and Diego were waiting for them!), so getting them to dialog in another language with a puppet was just not going to happen.  They were even hesitant to repeat after me! But, they listened, bobbed their heads to the music and tried to mouth the words.  There is hope for them yet. :)

    Now, my children's experience with Speekee should not be considered normal.  If Speekee interests you, please please, please head over to the TOS Review Crew to read reviews from other homeschools where kids actively engaged with Speekee and really learned something!   I think Speekee is a great product with lots of possibilities. It can be a great jumping off point with your early elementary aged child (I think it's best for the preK to 3rd or 4th grade set who still have that love of sock puppets).  If you are interested in teaching your younger students Spanish with a fun video, lots of songs, and ample parent support materials and ideas, please consider Speekee!

    FCC:  Thank you to Speekee for providing a free two month subscription to their online video product in exchange for my honest opinion about their product.

    1 comment:

    Jim said...

    Hi Alane, "Thank you to Speekee for providing a free two month subscription to their online video product in exchange for my honest opinion about their product." It has been a pleasure! Our thanks to you for your review. Sending you my best wishes from Spain, Jim - the one in Speekee