I’ve found that most homeschooling families that I know really desire to teach their children a second language. My family is no exception, but I’m always skeptical as it is hard for me to teach to both of my older children and meet both of their expectations and interest levels.
As is, it can be used simply as a video program, but a FastTrack program is also freely available to users to help extend the lessons and reinforce the vocabulary that they are learning. These do require pre-planning and additional materials.
Things We Liked About The Program:
- I loved that the program offers a FastTrack schedule for homeschool users. This schedule can be viewed online and/or emailed each week. There are accompanying videos, flashcards, worksheets, and activity ideas for 5 days throughout each of the 40 weeks listed on the schedule. Honestly, if each family did every activity listed on the schedule, I have no doubt that the kids would have a very firm grip on their Spanish!
- The videos were under 20 minutes, colorful, and full of kids. Kids LOVE to watch other kids just like them, doing something fun like speaking a different language! Not only were their kids, but there were cute puppet characters as well. My 2 year old watched along with us and he loved this part!
- The lessons built upon each other and a lot of review is built into the program. The only way to really get a solid understanding of a new language is to really work on it repetitively and often. The FastTrack schedule really lays it out for the parent on how to work on it thoroughly so the child retains the most information possible while moving on and learning new skills. There are worksheets and flashcards that can be used again and again, as well!
- It can be used with kids from 2-10 years. I was able to lump 3 of my children into one lesson time. Honestly, my 2 year old was the best student in my “class” and he enjoyed echoing the words in the video.
- Videos are closed captioned in English and Spanish. If your child needs to be able to read it to “hear” it, this is a fabulous feature. They get used to hearing it AND reading it all at the same time for better retention and implementation.
- The extensions activities included in the FastTrack Guide help reach all types of learners. If your child needs to act it out to really understand the lesson, that’s included in the plans! If your child needs flashcards, that’s covered! What about playing through Sock Puppets or labeling their own family photos? Again, those are included! The accompanying activities really help different learning types to engage and learn Spanish!
- The online learning portal is simple to use. The format is simple enough! Simply go in and choose which videos you’d like to watch from the main video screen. For extension activities, use the link emailed each week with the FastTrack or use the links provided on the online 40 week FastTrack schedule for downloaded worksheets, flashcards, and additional corresponding videos.
Things We Didn’t Like About the Program:
- The program, when used as outlined on the FastTrack, can be really time consuming. The videos were all around 16-20 minutes, which is simply too long for my kids to stay engaged currently. They never really “clicked” with the characters and begged to be able to go do something else. Additionally, many of the suggested games or activities listed required quite a bit of prep on my part (like making sock puppets or role playing parts of the videos they just watched with props). While I do value Spanish language education, it is difficult for me to devote this much time on a daily basis with four children 7 and under in my household! I think families with one or two children, or without younger children to entertain, might find this program easier to implement. It is difficult for me to carve out solid chunks of 20-30 focused minutes on a daily basis, particularly for a non-core subject.