Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Middlebury Interactive Languages

I'm a firm believer that all students should learn a foreign language. I also believe that this learning should start early in the student's education.  So when we were given the opportunity to to review Elementary French I for grades K-2 by Middlebury Interactive Languages, I was pretty excited.

Middlebury Interactive Languages uses an immersion approach to teach children of all ages foreign languages. Designed by Ph.D. level academics and linguistic experts, this online, browser based program is designed to teach students various languages from around the world. Whether Chinese, French, Spanish or German, this approach is said to be a full curriculum using the same techniques used by Middlebury College's language schools.

What We Thought:

I would really like to say this worked for my kids. Unfortunately, it did not. The format of this particular lesson was extremely difficult to navigate and very confusing for both my kids.  I have looked at other lessons from this particular group and it seems as if maybe it's just because the Kindergarten version of French isn't as developed as the others that seem to flow seamlessly.  With this particular lesson, everything has to be navigated from the side and various folders in order to get to the lesson each day.  This proved an aggravation for both my kids who wanted to be able to go right back to the lesson they were on.  They had to again navigate back through these folders each time they finished a slide for their lesson.  This may work well enough for older students but for younger kids, this is very confusing for them, as they had to click through 2-3 folders just to get to the lesson.

Very Confusing Navigation Format

On the plus side, Ashleigh really enjoyed the cute graphics and the learning games. She also really enjoyed the Speaking labs where she could record herself speaking French phrases and being able to play those recordings back to hear herself speaking French.

Final Impressions:

As said, I feel that this particular language lesson might just be unfinished, as other lessons look much more polished and user friendly.  Until then, I wouldn't recommend this particular format for younger children who are just learning to use a computer and would be easily confused.  Older students will probably do better with it but as this particular lesson is geared for grades K-2, I think it needs much work before it's able to be used by the intended target audience.

In this particular case, there was a bit more that interested Ashleigh then there was for Garrett and this particular program failed to hold his attention.  Ash really liked the cute graphics, especially the ones involving animals - she loves anything animals.

Overall, it has much potential. But as it stands, my kids did not find this particular curriculum engaging and I didn't find a whole lot of learning going on.  It might work for your kids, but for my younger children, it just didn't work for us.

Have my kids been learning French?  Yes and no. Ashleigh has picked up a few phrases but I wouldn't say she has picked up any real comprehension as to what she is saying. Maybe this will come as they use the program more and more.  Garrett however, zones out when we pull this out and really wants nothing to do with it.  So, it's somewhat working for one kid and not working at all for another (which is pretty typical for ANY curriculum and isn't a real fault for Middlebury Languages).  I do believe if they would more away form the Table of Contents formatting for Navigation and make this much more user friendly for younger kids, it would be so much better.

Middlebury Interactive Languages can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google +.

Members of the Crew had the opportunity to review various other languages and levels.  Be sure to check out what they have to say about the other various offerings from Middlebury Interactive Languages by clicking the banner below.

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review


  1. Hi Brenda, I was checking out some other reviews and just wanted to mention something to you that will hopefully make this easier for you and your children so maybe they will enjoy it more. Were you aware that you don't have to go through the Table of Contents?
    I actually clicked on Calendar (which is right above the Table of Contents on the drop down menu in the left corner) and it takes you to the calendar. All you have to do here is find the lesson that does not have a check mark on it yet.
    However, as I was exploring today, I noticed something I didn't notice before that makes it even easier. When you first come to the page where your dashboard is, there should be a Section Announcements section, and below it there is an Up Next section. The date will probably be wrong unless your child zinged ahead, because of when we got access for the review. However, if you click on the little play arrow in the bottom right it should take you to the lesson your child is on.
    Just thought I would let you know.
    Not sure if you moderate comments, but if you do, feel free to not publish this, I was just trying to find the best way to contact you.

  2. Thanks for the suggestions.. I went back to look at the calendar and it does make it easier, but for some reason, originally, my calendar did not look like it does now. Originally, it looked more like a memo board and was blank - weird.. Maybe they fixed it or maybe it was my original browser but that indeed does make it much easier to work with now. :)


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