Thursday, October 1, 2015

High School German - A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Review Crew
In August the Schoolhouse Review Crew was offered the opportunity to review Middlebury Interactive Languages. We had the choice of French, Spanish, German or Chinese. I was given the opportunity to review the high school level German Course.
I've always wanted to study German since my dad, who served in Belgium in World War II, taught me to say "Danke" and Bitte" when I was a little tyke!

I received access to my German Course in August. I was so excited! While it was still summer I hoped to study my German at least five days a week. I don't know if I ever made five days, but I tried, even working on weekends when I could manage it. Our vacation week arrived, and I took my computer and managed to work on German during the vacation, too!

You can access the lessons either through Calendar View (there is a picture below) or Table of Contents view. TOC view is less confusing. You can see exactly where to start because the program clicks off with a green check mark the material that has already been covered.

In the first weeks I was doing fairly with my studies. I had decided that, for my learning style I would do best if I took copious notes. I did score well on tests using this method, but it got old quickly. I really didn't have time to be writing down all the notes I wanted to take.

Then we got home from vacation and I needed to start our new home school year. My son is in 10th grade this year, and even though I knew it was coming, I was suddenly in deep water teaching Algebra 2, Chemistry, Spanish, English, History, Driving and Phys. Ed. I'm teaching some courses I've never taken! I'm having trouble keeping up, as is my son. And it became difficult to study the German as much as I wanted to.

I continued studying, but now I was struggling to get to it three times per week, and I found my scores dropping on my completed assignments. Questions were being asked with words I didn't understand. Some of the work I was understanding, and some not so much. Sometimes I scored well, but felt like I guessed my way through to the right answers. And sometimes I scored really poorly!

I decided I needed to go back through previous lessons and do some review. I found, in this review time, that there are places with the option to print out information for my studies that I had missed the first time through. Wow! This was information I really needed! It contained translations not on the video program that I had needed for some of the quizzes and exercises that I needed earlier and couldn't find. I had planned to mention in my review that I experienced questions that had never been covered -- but the missing translations were here on the "PRINT" and "SCRIPT" printouts. Perfect!

See that word "Print" down in the lower right corner? I was missing that. It gives the translation for all these vocabulary words. See the little blue circle with a speaker in it for each phrase? Clicking on that gives you the audio to learn the vocabulary to listen, repeat, and practice. It is good to find a quiet place to work while you sit "talking to your computer".
It has been a real struggle to retain the information I have studying. I'm not giving up, but my brain is really stretched thin right now (with also the Spanish, Algebra 2 and Chemistry I am teaching right now that is also stretching me), and the going is just going to be slow.

Middlebury has a toll-free number for students to call if they experience difficulty with the program. I called a couple of times and was pleased with the hours the number is attended. There is also a method to contact the company by Internet by creating a "ticket" which they follow up on quite quickly.

I do really love Middlebury Interactive Languages, though, and highly recommend them. The courses that the Schoolhouse Review Crew was offered are all called "Full Course Demo"s, and are slightly different than what you would get if you purchased the course. We received six month's access, but the company kindly gave us access to the full year's course -- in other words, if I could absorb the material I could cover one year of high school German in six months. The student is permitted to take the course at the rate the student is comfortable with, whether a lesson a day, or spread out over two days, or two lessons in a day. 

What I did not have access to was an actual teacher. The course is available with teacher or without teacher (less expensive). I imagine the teacher interacts with the student and checks certain work that is submitted. The student gets feedback on his/her work. Much of the work, with teacher or without, is computer checked with immediate feedback to the student. Some of the work, though, is submitted ("Repeat the phrase given, recording your voice"), and is marked "100% participation". I don't know if a teacher normally follows up on this or not. I took a test at the end of one section and wondered how I would ever know how well I had done, as the quizzes give immediate feedback and the test does not. Then I found a button called "Gradebook" (probably available on the teacher/parent log-in, I'm not sure, since I am both parent and student). This link goes to pages showing all my scores.
Most colleges I have looked at require two years of a foreign language for their incoming Freshman applicants. Middlebury Languages seems to be a great way to get that accomplished. Compared to the price I paid for my son's foreign language course from another vendor, the price for Middlebury seems very reasonable.

Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed Middlebury language courses (German, Spanish, French, Chinese) at various learner levels (Grammar, Middle School, High School). To see more Middlebury Language reviews click on the button below.
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