Friday, September 14, 2012

Hola! Como te llamo? - A New TOS Review!!

Letting children experience foreign languages at an early age is essential if you want to help them to succeed. I've read that exposing them to different types of languages before the age of 10 can actually help their brain synapse's fire properly when they "need" to learn a language.  So why not introduce a language that is one of the most spoken in the world -- Spanish.

We were introduced to Speekee at the beginning of last year when our family had the opportunity to review this program as part of the Crew.  I almost forgot that my son had a previous experience with Speekee until I read that review.
The Product:
So what is Speekee TV? A spiral Spanish program available while accessing online for ages 2 - 11 that is done with actual Spanish speaking 'actors' and in real locations.  And the entire program is completed in Spanish (with English subtitles that can be turned off) for a more "real" experience.  There are 10 'units' or videos which are between 20 to 30 minutes in length covering areas like El Parque (the park), La Fiesta (the party), and El Cafe (the cafe) to name just a few.

Each episode has short clips that teach a particular area like numbers, colors, hot and cold, big and small, animals, etc. that are all focused on the 'theme' of the episode. And each episode has a consistent format which helps the learning process because the children know what is coming up next. And each episode has the lovable purple puppet - Speekee - as well as other familiar faces and puppets.
Not only does Speekee TV give you access to their online videos you can also sign up for their FastTrack program which extends the learning throughout the weeks.  There are 40 'lessons' which each have 4 additional targeted activities to help maximize learning Spanish with their program. Each of the 4 suggestions either have you watch a short clip from one of the episodes, work on a hands-on activity, act out a sketch between the two puppets - Lupi and Dino, or go though a series of questions helping the children to remember and really learn the language through repetition and visual cues.
You can also print out flash cards, laminate and use them to help practice the vocabulary.  And lastly their are also several  worksheets per episode that help cement the language learned in each episode.  So even though there are only ten videos, Speekee TV using all the extras (worksheets, Fast Track program, and flash cards) help this extend into a 40 week plus program.  You can subscribe to the program monthly for $7.50 (through PayPal) or yearly for just $60.  You even can get the first two weeks for FREE and test drive the program.

Our Experience:
Since the last time we used this program we have not really continued with learning Spanish.  We actually hadn't spent much time with any language so I was glad to get this review so that we could get back into learning a language again.  And once Arianna and Audrie both found out that we had this review they were eager to see the videos.  As soon as I started them Seanan even came running so he could watch.  I found that the videos held his attention a lot longer this time (he was only 22 months the last time we reviewed Speekee) which I was happy about.  I also was pleased that they all had remembered some of the words from last time.

One thing I have LOVED about this program is that we are able to access it through the Wii!  Isn't that awesome?!! I think so.  Especially since some days I have up to 7 children here which makes watching a video on the computer screen or on a laptop or my Tablet a little difficult.  Being able to go to the Internet through the Wii and accessing Speekee TV allows the video to be the full screen of our television and no worries about "I can't see!" being said from any child.  Downfalls of using the videos on the Wii - no access to the subtitles - so if you (the parent) don't know Spanish you will have to do some research on your own before you show the lesson.  It also doesn't show you the side panels or the separate clips that are available when you access through the computer, but that's not too bad. I usually am doing the 'curriculum' with just my own children so it hasn't been necessary.

I also signed up for the Fast Track program.  Each week you get an email that is automatically sent to you which highlights 4 ways that you can maximize your Spanish learning throughout that week.  It builds on the videos so you don't have to rush and watch all 10 episodes in the first few weeks.  You can continue to watch and re-watch the first 1 to 3 episodes and then rely on the Fast Track program to give you extra steps to extend the study. You can see some of our activities in the pictures below.
Donde esta el barco azul?
Donde esta el avion amarillo?
Me gusta!

No me gusta.
 I also found a scheme of work section on the Speekee site which lays out how to navigate through the over 200 activities.  You can search through it thematically so you can match a lesson to what you are doing in your other curriculum. You could also focus on particular words and see where those words are used throughout the program. Their online dictionary is completely in Spanish arranged alphabetically.  They have even helped you out with the planning on how to use the program long-term, a medium length, or as short term. You can even take a look at each unit and see what you will be learning throughout the entire episode.

We have been using the program for several weeks and now both my girls are using Spanish words throughout the day.  They are even singing and humming the catchy tunes as they go through their school day.  Seanan asks to watch Speekee each day and usually choses which episode by requesting it in Spanish.  Some words that he can say quite well are 'Hola', 'Soy Seanan', 'Donde vamos' and some others.  He sings along whenever the girls sing, just sometimes he can't say all the words fast enough. I think one of his favorite words is 'avion' especially after I made him an airplane which he colored azul and rojo (blue and red) as one of his school activities from the Fast Track lesson.

My Thoughts:
I am so pleased with all the changes that have been made since we last reviewed Speekee.  I think the inclusion of the Fast Track program has been AWESOME and really helps to make this program completely   immersion based. I know that this will be one program that we will continue to use throughout our allotted time.  I plan to take full advantage of all that  Speekee TV has to offer.

I do want to mention that this program is based out of the UK so if you have any issues or need customer support, remember that there will be a delay due to the time difference between the UK and here in the United States.  I did have some issues at the beginning with being able to access the program through my computer after I had already began using it on the Wii, but with perseverance on the part of the Speekee team, they finally were able to figure out why and now we have access!  Thank you in largely to Jim!

I encourage you to take a few minutes and read what other Crew members thought of  Speekee TV by clicking on the banner below.  You can keep up with Speekee on Facebook, Twitter, and even on their own blog.


*** I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2011-2012 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products (a six month membership to this program), I am not compensated in the form of money for any of my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences with the products and services that I receive.***

1 comment:

Nameless said...

Hola Kelly, This is Jim from Speekee checking in to say a big GRACIAS for your very thorough review. Much appreciated!

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