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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: Middlebury Interactive Languages (TOS Review)

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

For this review we have been using Middlebury Interactive Languages, Chinese Courses, Elementary Grades 3-5. 

Middlebury Interactive Languages is a 100% online language immersion program.  For the most part, they speak only in the target language.  We chose Chinese for the review, but other languages are also offered, as well as other grade levels.

My 9 year old used this program typically 5 days a week, as part of his morning computer school work routine.  The program is easy enough for him to navigate himself; I just save a short cut to the desktop for him. 

He navigated the lessons from the calendar section.  This works perfectly if you do a lesson every weekday (it automatically gives holidays and weekends off), but if you miss a day, or only work on a 3 day a week schedule the calendar can get confusing.  There is no way to adjust the assignments (that I could find).  I emailed the company when we first started to ask them if there was a way to change the start day, so that the lessons would line up and they changed it for me. 

The inability to adjust the lesson dates is a bit of a frustration.  For example, we were without internet for 2 days, when we got internet back I asked my son to do 2 lessons a day for 2 days to get caught up.  When I went in to check on him later, he had done 2 lessons as asked, but he did them starting on the current day instead of backing up and picking up where he left off.  (When you log in, the current day is automatically highlighted.)  

The other option is to navigate through the table of contents, but you have to open each file to find the one that doesn’t have checks, and you have to check the file before to make sure that that one does have checks, in order to find where you are and well, he skipped lessons that way on accident. 

The other option is to keep track on paper what lesson your child is on, so they know.  When the lesson is completed there is a check mark that shows up, so that does help.  I don’t know about most 9 year old boys, but, my son just doesn’t pay enough attention to those kind of details.  So, it would be nice to be able to manually move a lesson on the calendar. 

Screenshot 2015-09-30 20.07.59

With that aside, my son does enjoy this program. I feel like he is learning, and he is mostly scoring well.  I wish they were able to redo lessons to improve grades (they can redo, but it doesn’t alter their grade).  Also unless you pay the extra for an actual teacher, the speaking portions are never graded, and therefore kind of useless.  There is no way to check tones, or pronunciation, unless you or someone you know is a native speaker.  So, if you are very serious about the language, I’d pay the extra money for that portion (particularly if you are using middle or high school levels for credit). 

My son had a microphone headset to use with this program (one we owned) but the microphone wouldn’t register for some reason, so he ended up doing the program without it. 

The program introduces characters and pinyin, along with pictures.  Often times they are asked to match the characters to the appropriate pictures.  They words are also read in Chinese.  So you get visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning involved. 

Screenshot 2015-09-30 20.06.44

The program also touches base on cultural aspects, not just the language, which is also nice!

Screenshot 2015-09-30 20.07.35

The program does keep track of grades, which is especially helpful in older grades (when transcripts are needed).  We do not usually grade, but it’s good to see how he is doing, and I like to point his scores out to him and let him know where he needs to work a little harder, and to high five him when he does well.

You need to manually log in to check on your child’s progress.  It’s located under the same log in as the student, therefore they can also check their progress.

Screenshot 2015-09-30 19.44.38

Screenshot 2015-09-30 19.44.45

We were using a different program previous to this review, and when I asked my son what he wanted to do, he voted to continue with this program. 

The program is 6mos long (a semester), though you have up to a year to complete it.  There are 90 lessons total.

The cost of the program is $119 without a teacher, and an additional $175 with a teacher per student.  They offer courses in Chinese, Spanish, French and German for grades K-12. 

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
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