I was recently asked by Denise Leitch of Foreign Language Friends to review her online Spanish language learning program. She explained that the target audience for the program is children aged 2 to 8. Since I have a two year old and five year old, my children would certainly fit into that category. However, since Spanish is their first language I decided to have my six year old English-speaking niece be my guinea pig on this project.
What is it?
Foreign Languages Friends is an online computer learning program that uses a "theme-based, full immersion approach" to learning Spanish. The child is given the choice of several themes, such as food, farm animals, and transportation, and through several different exercises practices the vocabulary words related to that theme. Some of these activities include matching games, a cartoon that uses the target vocabulary, a spelling bee, a sing-a-long song, and printables.
What I liked:
Quality, clear sound
Easy to navigate for my Kindergarten-aged niece
You can keep up with your child's mastery of an activity on the Progress Tracker.
Themes use relevant, interesting vocabulary
Vocabulary is repeated several times in several different contexts
Fun, engaging activities
What I would like to see:
My sister sat with my niece as she used the program and the only complaint that she had was that she did not understand some of what was said during the cartoons and the sing-a-longs. My suggestion for the company would be a "cheat sheet" with the translated dialog and songs for parents for this type of activity. Although I commend the company on using a "full immersion" approach, I know as a parent, who would like to be involved in the language learning process, I would like to be able to help by following along and answering questions.
I was very impressed with this program as a vocabulary-building activity. My niece very much wants to learn Spanish so that she knows what her cousins are saying. ;) She played several times and had to be pryed away from the computer each time. I quizzed her afterwards and she learned several vocabulary words from just a few sessions. She may be attending a Spanish immersion school next year and I think that she would benefit from the vocabulary that she can learn from this program. The Spanish vocabulary is too simple for my sons but I would be very interested in a French version of this program.
Disclosure: I was given a free trial of this program to review. I did not receive any other compensation from the company. All opinions are mine, my niece's, and my sister's.