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Excelerate Spanish Review by Lisa MaynardCaryn Powell Hommel
6600 Monnell Dr.
Raleigh, NC 27617
Spanish is definitely one of those subjects that I need help teaching. I received a set of four Excelerate Spanish DVDs with a video for each lesson, a student workbook, a teacher manual, and an answer key.
This program uses a method called TPR or Total Physical Response. Basically, along with each new vocabulary word, a gesture is taught at the same time. This aids the student in remembering what they are taught. It activates various motor cortices of the brain making it easier to learn the new language. After taking lessons using the traditional method of learning a language, and still not being able to speak a word, the idea of TPR idea intrigued me.
There are twenty four lessons in this program, and two ways the program can be used. The first explanation in the teacher manual explains how you use this program if you are a Spanish teacher, the second is if you are using this as a home-school student or independent learner. We used this program in our home-school and I have really noticed a difference in what my student remembers.
The first thing you do each day is to watch the video for the assigned lesson. It's advised to have the student book with you while watching the DVD. This helped my student link the written words to the oral words in the video. I like to work as many senses at the same time and this program does just that. The DVD lesson is to be used as if you are in the classroom. This can feel strange at first but works well. When the teacher gives an instruction I encourage my student to do it. Sometimes we watched the complete lesson and sometimes we broke them into more than one sitting. We found it best to break it into two. We worked on the new vocabulary and actions, and then on the skit. This was recommended in the teacher guide and I noticed when we worked this way my child retained more of the vocabulary.
This program is self-paced. You can work as slow or as fast as needed. A student can easily repeat a lesson when they feel the material is hard. Making it perfect for anyone. Sometimes we watched the video or a specific part of the video more than once. However, one thing we noticed was if we didn't participate as if we were there we didn't remember as much.
We followed the suggested schedule found in the teacher’s guide for the most part, and it worked really well for us. On the first day we watched the lesson video and completed the TPR we were currently on for the main vocabulary and action series. We did this once or sometimes twice. Then we would go to the workbook and pick a couple of exercises. The teacher’s guide says that you don't have to do them in order. So my child would pick the ones he found the easiest. On the second day we would re-watch the previous day's portion, but add in the skit portion. Day two ends by reading part of the text in the teacher manual called 'Lectura' and answering the questions. Day Three—finish the workbook activities. Day four and five suggestions would be to try the homework, project, and review ideas found from the teacher manual. However, my student found the main notebook enough work most of the time.
My children all liked the DVDs. We all watched them together. However, only my oldest worked through the student course workbook. I feel that although all of my children benefited from the DVDs, you could see that my teenager who used the workbook alongside the DVDs retained more of the information and vocabulary. I feel this course is suitable as a high school course as there is well over 150 hours of work; especially if you add in the homework, project, and review ideas included in the teacher manual.
I appreciated the format of this language curriculum. It flowed well, was easy to implement, and was easy for my high-school student to work with unassisted. I do plan on finishing this curriculum with my oldest, and purchasing another student workbook for my freshman too. This has made speaking Spanish an obtainable goal in our homeschool.
- Product review by Lisa Maynard, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC August 8th 2016.