Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Middlebury Interactive Languages

I had the opportunity to review Chinese Language, by Middlebury Interactive Languages. Middlebury offers digital language learning courses in Spanish, French, German and Chinese. The courses are offered for elementary, middle, and high school levels. Middlebury Curriculum provides the student with versatile implementation options in an immersive, online, interactive environment. 

How we used the curriculum
I reviewed the full course demo of Middlebury Elementary Chinese I, for grades 3-5 with my 4th grader. She was very excited to learn a new language. Middlebury Interactive Languages uses an immersion style of learning. Through the use of stories and interactive activities the program aims to make learning Chinese, not only fun, but cultural understand of China and its people. My daughter could not understand most of what was spoken but she became engrossed when listening to the stories. The pictures used to tell the story adequately allow the student to understand what is being told.

Elementary Chinese Course Breakdown
There are 16 units in the Full Course of Elementary Chinese. Within each unit there are 6 lessons with the exception of units 8 and 16 being review units. Unit 8 reviews the first seven units in the program and Unit 16 reviews Units 9-15.  Each lesson incorporates four major tools of learning:
  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing
 Lessons include a variety of instructional activities such as:
  • Explore
  • Practice
  • Speaking Lab
  • Stories
  • Objective
  • Video Teacher
  • Quiz
  • Review
  • Coloring Book
  • Culture
  • Greetings
  • Vocabulary
  • Tests
  • Matching
Middlebury utilizes many task-based activities in order to accelerate a student's learning. By providing multiple levels the program is able to engage students using grade level appropriate material to enhance learning. 

HouYi and the Ten Suns, The Mice and the Rice Ball, The Box and the Pearl, and One Rice, One Thousand Gold are just a few of the many stories that your student will listen to while learning lesson concepts along with Chinese culture and ways. When listening to the stories my other children were often draw in and wanted to know whenever a story was being told. My daughter would often go back an listen to the stories over and over. Each time she would pick up on more and more and a smile would come across her face. As an educator, I know that this repetition was important so I encouraged her desire to listen to the stories as often as she wanted.

Character Writing
The step by step instructions on writing characters was excellent. Looking at the characters it is quite overwhelming but with the writing tutorials learning to write characters is not that hard. My daughter practiced over and over in order to remember the order of the strokes to write each character. We soon realized that making notecard cheats was very helpful not only to reference back on, use while working through the activities, and studying for the quizzes/tests in the lessons. Chinese writing is beautiful. The strokes flow and the characters are quite detailed. My daughter really enjoyed learning how to write Chinese.

There is link within the program to print special graph-like paper to help the student with writing characters. 

Speaking Lab
The Speaking Lab is a great way to practice speaking what you have learned. The student is able to click on a given character, picture, phrase, or sentence and hear it spoken. After listening to the proper pronunciation the student then records themselves speaking. They can then listen to their recording to hear how they sound. This is not only fun but extremely helpful in the learning process. I was quite surprised at how quickly my daughter caught onto learning the language. 

In order to help learn the colors in Chinese the student can complete online coloring pages. I really applaud the stimulating ways that Middlebury Interactive makes learning pleasurable.   Both my older and younger children were quite curious about all of the fun their sister was having learning Chinese. 

What My Daughter Said
My daughter said, "Learning Chinese was hard work. The program was fun and not like doing schoolwork at all. I really liked the stories. It was fun to record myself saying different things. The Chinese language has some funny sounds and made me laugh which didn't make my mom happy. Writing Chinese is hard, much harder than English."

Overall Thoughts
My daughter really enjoyed working through Middlebury Elementary Chinese. I enjoyed learning along with her. I would highly recommend this program for educators and parents wishing to introduce a second language to their child or student. Your child will come away with more than just learning the spoken language. They will become familiar with world culture and understanding. I will continue to use Middlebury Interactive Languages with my children.

Middlebury Interactive Languages offers Chinese in multiple levels including:
  • Elementary Chinese I, Grades K-2
  • Elementary Chinese I, Grades 3-5
  • Middle School Chinese I & II, Grades 6-8
  • High School Chinese I & II, Grades 9-12
  • High School Chinese Fluency I & II, Grades 9-12


xiǎo dòng bù bǔ, dà dòng chī kǔ 
A small hole not mended in time will become a big hole much more difficult to mend.

~ Chinese Proverb ~

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