Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Homeschool Spanish Academy - Muy bien!

When I first learned that we might be able to take a full half semester from Homeschool Spanish Academy, I thought, this is perfect for my 17 year old daughter, Hannah. She had been plugging away at another course via the computer for a while but I thought this might just be the catalyst for increasing her ability to harness the language and make it her own. I have not been disappointed!

So what is Homeschool Spanish Academy? I am so glad you asked! Because she is obviously in high school, we chose the high school level. They offer four different levels of instruction:

Early Language Program
Middle School Program
High School Program
Adult Program (New!)

I put this entirely into Hannah's hands and said, "Here are the instructions from the company, follow them and set up your first appointment." So she did and she scheduled the first lesson. We knew there were some requirements for our computer: a certain speed, a webcam, a headset with a microphone, and the free version of Skype. (Check the website for a speed test and the requirements to see if your set up will work.) We had all of those things but to make sure the computer tech called us the hour before our first appointment. The one thing neither my daughter nor I took into account was that our time zone and HSA's were not the same! You will want to pay attention to that because the tech guy was my wake-up call on that day!

We were good to go and so she received her first Skype call from her lovely teacher, Elda, straight from Guatemala! She greeted Hannah in Spanish and Hannah returned the greeting. Because of Hannah's response, Elda asked her several questions in Spanish to gauge her knowledge base. She asked things like her birthday, how her week was going, how she was doing, etc. At this point she asked about previous Spanish instruction and Hannah filled her in that she had some, but that it was limited. She then asked about specific areas of proficiency in different aspects of the language.

This was to set the tone for how Elda would interact with Hannah for all subsequent lessons. Elda used more Spanish words with Hannah to see if she understood her. If Hannah did not, she would try to figure them out within the context of what Elda said to her. If she could not, she asked Elda to clarify in English and eventually asked Elda how to say, "What does it mean?" in Spanish. Hannah likes a good challenge and this has been so good for her!

Then Elda did an introductory lesson. She had already emailed Hannah the lesson right before the class started and she worked through it with Hannah. This was the easiest lesson, but was a great way to start. This consisted of pronunciation of the alphabet and various vocabulary words as well as their spellings. She was to read over this during the week and practice the pronunciations and words.

The second lesson was also emailed to her before the lesson began (sometimes they are emailed the morning of the lesson and sometimes the day before). The second lesson consisted of basic conversations of greetings and farewells, how to use them, translate them, and the appropriate situations in which to use each phrase. This is what one of the pages of Lesson 2 looked like:

At the end of the lesson, but within the same PDF, the homework assignments are included. These are a review of all that is learned throughout the lesson. She also included a Word document that Hannah used to fill in the answers to the corresponding homework assignments. The lessons have progressed fairly rapidly in level of difficulty as well as the homework, but not beyond Hannah's ability to complete them.

On a weekly basis, this is the pattern: 

1. Hannah receives a PDF of the lesson.
2. She and her teacher work through the lesson together via Skype and the webcam. They speak mainly in Spanish with each other (although her teacher is fluently bilingual).
3. During the week, Hannah practices her lesson, completes the homework attached to the lesson and emails it to her teacher.
4. Her teacher emails her the homework with any corrections and also emails her the next lesson.

The pricing varies with whatever level of instruction you choose, but this is the high school level. I think it is very reasonable for the kind of individualized instruction she is receiving.

This is a good demo video to see how the program works:

After four classes of the seven planned for a half semester, this is what Hannah has to say about it:

I have thoroughly enjoyed the class. My teacher has been phenomenally helpful and I have learned more from the four lessons I have enjoyed thus far than any other Spanish program in which I have participated. My teacher, Elda, is a delightful vivacious woman that loves her job, is quite willing to help you in any way she can, to understand the material. In fact, I would laud her teaching style as being the sole reason I have learned so much. She has constantly encouraged me and been cheerful even when I have had a hard time with the lesson. She has always been friendly, kind, yet always professional.

I think it is an exceptional product that has been thoroughly thought-through. This is one-on-one individualized instruction customized for your specific child. My daughter has excelled so quickly and has grasped what Elda has been teaching her. It is so exciting to see it! I have always heard that learning a language with a native speaker is the best way to learn and Homeschool Spanish Academy has latched onto that in a big way. I highly recommend Homeschool Spanish Academy and am seriously considering continuing her lessons beyond the half semester. 

They offer a free lesson to check it out. The Crew reviewed the two other levels for children and you can read about them at the link below:


Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me,
in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are mine. 

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