You would not know it by looking at him, but my husband is Peruvian. His Peruvian father and Castilian mother (from Spain) moved to the united states when my husband was a little boy. Wanting to fit in at school, he refused to speak Spanish unless it was absolutely necessary. His parents spoke to him in Spanish, but he answered them in English. It wasn't until he grew to adulthood that he sold everything he owned, took leave from his job and spent an entire summer with his relatives in Spain. During that summer, he re-learned Spanish, and became fluent again. Though he was again fluent in Spanish, he did not see the tremendous value that a second language was.
We met, married and had children. Despite urging from his family and mine, my children have only occasionally heard their father speak Spanish. Not living very near to his family, my children had very little exposure to the language. I realized if my children were to learn Spanish, I would have to teach them. (Oh my.)
We Tried a Few...
I have tried a few programs, one or two of them were very expensive. I was not impressed with anything I had seen for younger children, and the programs that appeared most comprehensive---teaching the whole language---were not terribly "kid-friendly" so they were reserved for my older children. The younger ones tried the more complicated programs, but after a few weeks, they were no closer to understanding the language, and they were frustrated. I decided I had to wait until high school for them to learn.
Discover Spanish contacted me and asked me to do a review. I was skeptical, but I thought "What can I lose?" My girls (ten and thirteen) were willing to be my guinea pigs.
The program is for all ages 9-99, and can be used alone or as a supplement to existing curriculum. It is equivalent to 2 years of middle school Spanish or 1 year of high school.
Discover Spanish is a very visual program, and allows an exchange between characters that can be repeated as much as you like by clicking the mouse. My girls and I loved that we controlled the pace of the lessons. We also like that we could easily revisit sections of the lessons again and again. It is easy for us to find where we are and where we want to go, because each element of the units are clearly labeled, with buttons leading to each element.
My thirteen-year-old does not seem to have an "ear" for language. Imitation is difficult, and with other programs, she was frustrated to tears. She enjoys Discover Spanish very much, and I no longer have to coerce her into completing her Spanish work. Also, because the phrases in the lessons are short, and constantly in front of her (she can listen to the phrases over and over!) she is FINALLY placing her "r's" and "l's" in the right places! She wants to continue using the program because it gives her a sense of accomplishment---she feels "smart" in an area where she has previously struggled! (Phew!)
I was concerned that like many other programs we have tried, this would be either too juvenile, or too difficult for my ten year old. She is a natural mimic---She frequently imitate accents, and she is very curious about other languages and cultures, so I was disappointed in my inability to find a program she could use. She LOVES Discover Spanish, and she is terribly disappointed if she feels she cannot spend time on Spanish every day! She enjoys the matching game, and clicks the speaker buttons over and over to compare her pronunciation to that of the character in the program. She wants to continue with the program because it's fun!
The program is available through online subscription or on a set of CDROMs. The CDROMs have audios accompanying all 36 lessons. (CDROMs don't have to be renewed.) All updates to the program are free with the online subscription, along with free audio podcasts of the lessons. The podcasts that go along with the online version are available only through unit 4 at this time, whereas the audios that accompany the CD version cover all 36 lessons. (Click on "free audio podcasts" to go to the page with the links.) You can try a free, sample lesson, HERE.
Discover Spanish also has a wonderful BLOG in Spain! (Click the photo or "BLOG" to see it!) The blog is written in a very student-friendly format, which encourages kids to join in and comment or ask her questions. They will be able to learn a lot about Spain and learning Spanish in the process!
I was very pleased with the program, and I am planning on purchasing it for our next school year. I am not sure yet if I will get the CDROMs or the online version, but I am certain of one thing: We will be using Discover Spanish! (http://www.discoverspanish.com)
Disclosure: Stone Soup Homeschool Network (our family) was given a free trial of this product for review purposes. I have received no compensation from it and all opinions and experiences within this review are my own.