The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

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Learnables Foreign Language, The Review by Heather Jackowitz

I have a degree in French, but when it came time to teach it to my children, I found that I just do not have enough hours in the day. I also felt that Spanish would be much more practical since we live in California, but I can't speak a word of the language. So I was thrilled to find out about The Learnables, a self-teaching program that requires no teacher preparation and no knowledge of the foreign language. Each level of The Learnables is the equivalent of one year of high school foreign language; however, the unique teaching method allows children as young as seven to take a course. The philosophy behind The Learnables is that learning any language begins with listening and understanding rather than speaking and reading. Each level has two components, The Learnables and Basic Structures. The Learnables consists of a book and cassettes or CDs. This book is the same for every language as there are no words. Students listen as a native speaker says a sentence for each picture. Each lesson takes about 20 minutes and should be repeated one or two times before moving on to the next lesson. Tests follow every two lessons. Following The Learnables Book 1, students move on to Basic Structures Book 1. Students listen to the native speaker read the sentences as they read along and select the appropriate picture. Answers are at the back of the book. This book can be reused if students write the answers on a separate sheet of paper.

This is really a delightfully simple program to use. Because it requires nothing from me other than providing a time and quiet place, I was able to let my daughter start French while my son and I are learning Spanish. My daughter is nine, and she absolutely loves learning French. She begs to do her lessons, and I am amazed at how quickly she is picking it up. My son is seven, and less enthusiastic. But he tolerates it because it involves snuggling with Mom and getting his back tickled too! And, although the folks at The Learnables strongly forbid it, I let him repeat the words when he wants, just to keep him interested. It has dramatically increased his interest in learning Spanish, which I think outweighs any damage caused by mispronunciation. Find out more about this unique foreign language program at

I also reviewed Bible Stories in French, a book and CD combination with a sentence for every picture. The CD is about 20 minutes long, and narrated by a native French speaker. Topics include creation; the Garden of Eden; Noah's ark; Moses and the Ten Commandments; and the birth, baptism, miracles, death and resurrection of Jesus. The publisher says that these stories are readable after Level Two and easily readable after Level Three, but my daughter likes listening and picking up words here and there. Parents may wish to know that the drawings of the Ten Commandments show each specific commandment in action. Due to the nature of the "Thou shalt not" commandments, some may consider them suitable for older eyes only, because of the sixth commandment (murder), showing a thief shooting a man, and the seventh commandment (adultery). Personally, I had no problem showing them to my children, and we are very protective of what our children view. I was very comfortable with the pictures, as they are key to understanding the sentences, but I expect that some parents may object. The stories are simple and effective for building up a Biblical vocabulary. Bible Stories is available in Spanish, French, and German.

-- Product Review by: Heather Jackowitz, Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine