Monday, June 25, 2012

Review - Homeschool Spanish Academy - We LOVED it!

Homeschool Spanish Academy

Ages:  Early Learner to Adult

Cost:  Varies by Age Group (See Below for High School)

There’s an old joke that goes like this:
  What do you call a person who speaks three languages?  Trilingual
What do you call a person who speaks two languages?  Bilingual
What do you call a person who speaks one language?  American
While this obviously isn’t true in all cases, most of us can only fluently speak one language.  I believe there are two reasons for this.  First, our schools don’t emphasize learning another language fluently.  Second, we aren’t in a situation where we can practice that language consistently in order to really learn it. 
All this being said, it makes it very difficult for those of us that homeschool to provide our students with a strong language background if we parents aren’t fluent in another language either.  Foreign language is one of the very few subjects that intimidates me.  Why?  Because I can’t just pick up a book and learn it before trying to teach it to my boys.  With almost all other subjects, if I invest some time, I can be competent enough to facilitate their learning.

For homeschool foreign language, there are a few options.  First, buy a textbook and have your kids try to learn that way.  Second, spend the money on an expensive conversational program.  Third, try to find a class that your children can attend.  Initially, we went with the second option.  After a year of both of my boys using the program for four hours per week, our progress wasn’t very good.  I was disappointed because I really do believe that knowing another language is very important.
That's when I learned I was going to be reviewing the Homeschool Spanish Academy.  My middle son would be taking seven classes online one-on-one with a qualified Spanish instructor from Guatemala (this counts as 1/2 a semester).  I was thrilled!  My son, however, had his reservations.  He’s a nervous type and didn’t like the idea having to talk with a stranger over Skype.

I followed the instructions and got us setup for our first lesson.  Before the lesson occured, we received a call from the owner, Ron Fortin, making sure our Skype was setup properly and our computer was able to handle it.  I appreciated this service tremendously!  We knew before we officially started how things were going to work.

At exactly 11:00 on the first day, Elda, his instructor, contacted him and asked if he was ready.  He said he was, and they were off. She began speaking Spanish to him right away asking simple questions to determine what he already knew.  Once she had a sense of his abilities, she walked him through their first lesson almost entirely in Spanish.  I sat off to the side for the first lesson to hear how it went.  I was so impressed!  She had a way of getting him engaged and encouraging him right away.  His nervousness melted, and he was in trying to answer her questions and learning from her the right words or phrases to use. 
The Skype platform is great.  They can see and hear each other.  You have a personal instructor sitting with your child and working one-on-one!  She would bring up a presentation at times showing him graphics and asking him to name them or to respond to questions about them. 

Once this was over, we went right in to schedule his final six classes.  You schedule them all ahead of time picking the times the instructor is available.  Right now they are using Schedualicity – a separate program that allows you to schedule your classes.  However, they are migrating to a program on their own website in the future.  It’s very simple and even allows you to download the appointments into your calendar and sends you a reminder the day before the lesson.  I like the ability to schedule far out in advance.

Before each class, Elda emails us the lesson and the homework for that day.  The lesson is the same one she uses online so that my son can refer back to it later when doing his homework.  He emails his homework back prior to the next class and has always received it corrected within a couple of days.  What a great process!  The instructor is available via email for questions between classes.
My son finished his seventh class last week.  I cannot believe how much he has learned!  Plus, given the conversational approach between he and Elda, his confidence in trying to speak Spanish has dramatically increased.  All year, I rarely recall him trying out phrases.  This past several weeks he’s tried speaking to the waiters at our favorite local Mexican restaurant.  Wow!  He loved taking the lessons and asked if he could continue with the Homeschool Spanish Academy and Elda when we start school back in August.  I’m thrilled!  I contacted Ron and he noted that classes are on a first come, first serve basis.  We scheduled the fall last week as well! 
Interested?  Homeschool  Spanish Academy offers course options for Early Learners, Middle School, High School and Adults. They offer a free trial lesson so that you can try it for yourself before committing.  Once you decide you want to continue, they offer one and two day a week formats along with the option to have a second student participating at the same time.  Additionally, if you choose to like them on Facebook or on Twitter, you receive a five dollar discount.  Every dollar counts! 

I believe the prices are very reasonable given the high quality of the instruction. For example, my son is in high school, so, below, you can see the cost for him. If I wanted to have his brother join him, the cost is shown also.

I cannot recommend this program more highly! If you really want your student to learn a language and not simply meet a foreign language requirement, then this is the way to go. 

Interested in what other members of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew thought - click here.
Disclaimer:  I received seven weeks of classes free of charge as a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew in exchange for my honest review.

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