Showing posts with label Foreign Language. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Foreign Language. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

TOS Crew Review: Song School Latin by Classical Academic Press

Song School Latin - Click Image to Close
Slave Discipuli!

Oh yes, Latin.  That dead language is like a Zombie that keeps coming back for more...or is it?  Well, Latin really isn't so dead after all~and thank goodness for that.   Pondering the necessity of it is really not such a stretch, especially since our English language is based on quite of bit of Latin root words. So why not revive the very core of our language and teach our youngsters to understand, speak and read it?  I suppose the naysayers would state it is just too hard or difficult to even attempt.  But alas-that is where Song School Latin comes in.  Geared for the students in 1-2/3 grade (now that is really dependent on your student-so special needs kids, and those with reading difficulties could easily slip into this category.  My 3rd grade dyslexic son is enjoying it and learning from it quite nicely), this program is a gentle approach to learning the mostly ignored and/or categorized under the "dead as a door nail" language option.  

Song School Latin Bundle - Click Image to Close

The program bundle contains all you need to jump start your student's Latin career.  The lovely and nicely illustrated (with a cute monkey dude as the mascot) student worktext engages the student and offers just enough pencil to paper work for children this age.  Accompanying the study is a CD containing the songs (noted in the wktxt) for the students to learn and sing along with (which is teaching them the Latin lesson/vocabulary) as they do their work. These little ditties are quite catchy, as we were finding ourselves (yes even me) singing them long afterward.  The teacher's guide contains images of the student workbook pages with the answers, along with extra pages of practice for each lesson.  The Latin Monkey Match Flash Card Game is yet another way to reinforce all the vocabulary the children will be exposed to. What's more, the website has coloring pages to print, and an online Flash Dash game for vocab reinforcement to ramp up the Latin experience.

I found little or no teacher prep was needed, which is always a huge plus for me.  The lessons were short and not overstuffed with too much information, which can lead to confusion or frustration for the student.  What I liked best about this program [the CD has both options on it] is that I could choose to teach the Classical version of Latin, or the Ecclesiastical one (we chose the latter) as our mode of instruction.   Due to my son's reading issues, I have been very leery of introducing him to other languages, but I found this program to be gentle enough, so as not overwhelm him with things that will further delay his reading/English instruction progress. Moreover, he is enjoying it and that is ultimately the goal for me.  For us, the Song School Latin program is a hit, so much so that he has asked if he can do their Greek program too!  Now that speaks volumes to me.

They offer a Bible product as well, but I gave this the world icon due to the fact the
Song School Latin is not necessarily Christian in nature 
[even though you have the op to choose Ecclesiastical version]
Again-the material has to be dripping with God's Word to get a cross icon.  

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Classical Academic Press homepage
Song School info page
Set: $64.00 (includes TG, Student text, Song CD, and Monkey Match Flashcard game)
K-2/3 grade (good fit for struggling dyslexics 10 and under)

*Don't forget to find out what my TOS mates had to say about this, and many other fine homeschooling products over on our TOS Review Crew Homepage.

**Classical Academic Press provided me with a free Song School Latin kit (TG, Student Text, sampling of the Monkey Match Flash cards) so that I could use this with my child, in order to write this review.  I did not receive any financial compensation for providing my honest opinion of this product.

Friday, March 13, 2009

TOS Crew Review: Memoria Press-Prima Latina, Primary Copybook Set and New American Cursive Book

A few years back, I read The Well Trained Mind, which then spurred me on to look for a some of the products discussed within it, Latin being one. Now, we are not a Classical Education family per se, but do enjoy adding components that are typically found within the Classical domain. So my search began for a curricula that could be taught by someone with no background or experience (outside of some vocabulary words in high school science) in Latin. I also wanted a program that taught from the Christian point of view, which narrowed my choices down considerably. It was when I came across Memoria Press, that I knew I had found exactly what I needed for our studies.

When I opened our Latina Christiana, I was relieved to see that I really could teach it. It is clearly laid out, in small enough increments, to keep it from being overwhelming. The program moves along smoothly, so before the students (and teacher) realize it-they are learning Latin. I can truly attest to the benefit of including this supposed "dead language" into our studies. The results of two of our children's ACT scores; and their ability to learn another foreign language more quickly, have been positively influenced by having had completed the Latina Christiana series. Thankfully, Memoria Press now has available, a complete DVD set for the study, which guides the students through [rather independently] the course with ease. I have the Latina DVDs on my "to buy" list for my daughter to work through this coming fall. Regardless of my schedule (which often leads to not getting everything accomplished on our list) she can complete the course as planned. Which is always a good thing, in my opinion.

Before I get into the items we received to review, please note that due to space limitations; not to mention the need to save your eyes from excessive reading, I will not get into the nitty gritty of what each covers. Please be sure to click on the links at the bottom of the review for more detailed information.

When Memoria Press offered their products to us, I quickly jumped on the Prima Latina for the younger children. I have had that on my list for years, and finally my son is old enough to begin instruction in Latin. I was so excited to see that they also included the DVD set, along with the Teacher's Manual, Student Book and Pronunciation CD in our package. Prima Latina is designed like the Latina Christiana series, so I am finding the material familiar, and rather easy to teach. Each lesson provides the student with plenty of opportunity to cover material such as: vocabulary, questions to reinforce the learned material, and prayers. The one thing that concerned me prior to seeing Prima Latina, was whether it would confuse a child who is just beginning to grasp the English language, by adding a whole new set of rules and words from another one. Prima is designed to actually reinforce what they already know about English, while gently introducing new Latin material in a friendly manner. The bonus of the DVD has been such a blessing for us as well. Leigh Lowe's Southern charm, and style make listening enjoyable and fun. I am so pleased that we can begin Latin earlier (by using Prima) then continue our study (with Latina) for my youngest child; so that he will be well-equipped for whatever life experiences the Lord has in mind for him. Lastly, I strongly recommend the DVDs to enhance the study-especially if you are a bit leery of taking this on yourself. But fret not-as you have no need to worry, this series is designed to address that very issue. Simply put, you do not have to have a Latin background to teach it! And that is one of the biggest reasons the Latin series by Memoria Press is worth its weight in gold to me!

Furthermore, I have been on Memoria Press' mailing list since my first purchase, and have always enjoyed reading through the articles and product descriptions. My interest was very peaked when I saw that they developed their own Copy Book Series for elementary-aged children. These consist of three levels (K-about 3rd grade) which utilize printing as the main form of penmanship (but they do offer one which is for cursive) to train the child in the skill of copywork. These also perfectly align with Memoria Press' high standard for their materials. The student begins in book one, then works through to the third one, by copying scripture from the King James version of the Bible, and various classic poems. Each level gradually increases the amount of text they are to copy, eventually dropping the tracing or "help line" (as I call them) feature. For example: the page may have the entire verse written above the line they are to copy on to, so they can follow that-instead of constantly turning their head to see the verse on the other page. As they move along, these helps are gradually eliminated, so that they become independent from such assistance. They also left room for the child to draw what is discussed in the verse/poem. These will definitely make their way into our "save box", due to the precious artwork and penmanship my son has been etching into them. I am so relieved to see a Classical company produce material utilizing the Charlotte Mason method of copywork, which I try to incorporate frequently into our school. These Copy Books are exactly what I was looking for-no searching for verses or various material for the child to copy-it is all there, ready to go. These Copy Books save me precious time and effort; but more importantly-my son is sowing precious Bible verses into his heart while learning punctuation, vocabulary and the mechanics of the English language, to boot.

Lastly, the latest addition is the handwriting book, called The New American Cursive Handwriting Program. I was unaware of this particular style, but am intrigued by the method. One of the biggest concerns with handwriting is not so much the fine tuning of the printing, but the issue of the child having to experience the "backing up of the bus" to retrain their hand to now connect the letters in a manner, which does not resemble something written on an Etch-a-Sketch. The idea is to teach cursive right from the start (about First grade) to avoid such things. I understand the theory behind this approach, and truly feel it has merit . Being that I really favor the Italic method (the New American Handwriting is in the Conventional form most are familiar with) I am not so sure I am going to switch up this late in the game with my family. I do like the clean look, and ease with which the child learns this style though, and will recommend it to my friends who utilize the traditional form of cursive. If it is the manner of handwriting you prefer your children to learn, then I do believe you will really enjoy this latest edition to the Memoria Press line-up.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with the products available from Memoria Press, and will continue to use them as I bring my final two students to the finish line in our homeschooling adventure. I have had nothing but positive experience with their friendly company. I cannot recommend them enough, to families who desire implementing some, or all of the Classical Education components into their studies.

for some instruction and guidance, especially for the Latin series
and for the independent work they are required to do

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Memoria Press Homepage

Prima Latina Text Set
$39.95 for TE, Student book, Pronunciation CD

Primary Copybook Set
$39.95 for the 3 book set

New American Cursive Book

Be sure to check out the TOS Crew Homepage for more info on this product and many others

**Memoria Press provided me with the free copy each of The Prima Latina Pack (TE/Student WKBK/DVD set, The Primary Copybook Set and the New American Cursive Book, in order to test and use it with my family, so I could write this review.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

TOS Crew Review: Auralog- Tell Me More Homeschool Version: German

Guten Tag. Yes I can say that, along with a few other words and a couple sentences, and I can pronounce it (them) properly-thanks to the Tell Me More Deutsch language program. Armed with the microphone/headset (courtesy of Auralog/Tell Me More) I am able to exercise my vocal cords, and stretch them to speak German correctly; while implanting the words/phrases into my slightly-aged grey matter. Please note that the speech recognition is one feature that you will not find in most foreign language programs available on the market today. Another fine aspect of the Tell Me More study is that it equals a four year course. This means the student will be exposed to plenty of activities relating to the reading/writing of the chosen language, study of its culture, speaking and listening exercises, and vocabulary/grammar skill building lessons which are all on the one CD. The program offers three lesson modes (Guided, Dynamic and Free-to-Roam) for the user to select, with the ability to switch up between them throughout the course's study. Each mode takes you along a different process to learn the material. However, all of them accomplish the over-all goal; which is to get the student to the point where they are fluent in the skills (listed above), and within a reasonable amount of time. There are several levels to place the student as well, so if one has had some experience with the language-they can try out the higher levels until they come to new material. Of course, being that we are "beginners", we started at the lowest level, and will remain there for some time. No need to rush really, as I prefer we mosey through the lessons and have them down pat before progressing any further.

Now, as a homeschooling mom, I am also sensitive to the need of a credible way to keep track of my student's progress-and thankfully, they have that covered as well. Each student can log into their account (I signed on too, I mean-why not? I can learn right along with the kids), then work on their lessons all the while the program is tracking their progress. At any time I can check the report to see how things are shaping up, then use that chart for grading purposes. I am also able to (info for this comes with the program and is listed on the Quick Start guide) print the material to create a notebook (or workbook-whichever you prefer to name it) that I can have the student work on as extra practice, or utilize as another visual aid for their instruction. Not bad really, not bad at all.

Right now, the Word Pronunciation and Picture Word Association are my favorite lessons. These require me to say the word or phrase after hearing it, showing me not only what my speech pattern resembles, but how to properly position my tongue to say it correctly. There is a "score" box that shows how well (or not so swell) I said the word. If I see 6 or 7 boxes on the bar graph, I am close to or am speaking the word/phrase correctly (again-this is something missing from many foreign language programs we have used in the past) which I find to be the most helpful of the features for this task so far. I do shake things up a bit, on occasion, by visiting the other lessons to see if I can figure out what is being said. I am happy to report that I can in most instances, which is pretty good considering I have not logged as many hours as I thought I would need in order to do this. My daughter (Freshman in high school) hasn't decided which feature is her favorite at this point, but we both agree it is a worthy and thorough program we plan to keep for our foreign language instruction.

Honestly-I must admit to you, that we struggled at a bit at first with the way the material was presented. We felt like we'd been shoved out of an airplane with a parachute, and a skimpy survival pack; only to land dead-center into a German speaking country, without much preparation. We felt a bit overwhelmed I guess you can say, maybe a bit panicked. Once we assessed the situation, we settled down and let the program walk us through the beginning lessons-even though we didn't understand where it was leading us. Now that we have recuperated from our jet-lag, we are seeing we can do this. My daughter is a somewhat better prepared (than I am) for the immersion-method (and that is what this is), due to working through a different program we had bought last August-but even that hasn't prevented her from feeling lost at times. My best suggestion to you, in order to avoid this, would be to (if at all possible) expose the younger children to the language of choice. That way, when they hit this level (I am thinking Jr/Sr high), that will be more apt to transition into this program, without hitting the panic button like I did. I also highly recommend that you head to your local library and check out their selection of foreign language books/CDs, to test each language available. Due to the higher cost (all though if you break it down by 2 years, it is a very reasonably priced program) you should weigh your choice very carefully. Being sure your student likes the language they picked (as some sound great- but may be hard to pronounce, as some folks cannot roll their "Rs" or hear some of those sounds different languages use)before buying, is a wise decision. Then you can settle on a particular one to study, and get started in the high school course. Another point to consider before making your selection, is to find out what language is recommended for the particular career choice your child has decided to focus on. For example, my oldest daughter decided to pursue a degree in International Management. Spanish was highly recommended as the language to study, so she chose to take it during high school and college. If your child wants to be a missionary in Asia, then learning the Chinese language would make perfect sense.

Unfortunately, it seems the time frame to use this product (before the review was due) has flown by (like a speeding zug, ie: train), and I must admit we have not even touched the "tip of the iceberg" (so to speak) in regard to all of its features. It is a large program that will take many weeks to go through before I (we) can say we have a good grasp on all of the goodies packed into it. I can attest to you that is was easy to install, and to create accounts for us. There is a small owner's manual which comes with it, and the program has 2 PDF files available for extra help. It has taken some time to go through the program in order to figure out all of the features and icons contained within it-but like with any larger program-we will eventually become very familiar with them to the point of being able to truly glean the gems hidden within it.

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Auralog-Tell Me More Homepage
Homeschool Version: $319.99 (included the microphone/headset)
The newest version for the German, French, Spanish and Italian will be available mid-April of this year-please keep that in mind as the new info is not yet available~

****You will need to purchase the additional 5 levels (you get the first 5 as a part of the purchase). The level you start as is determined by the pretest you can take if not a beginner. So for example: Annie has had some German, she takes the test and it says level 3 would be the place to start-so I would get level 3-7 as a part of the purchase price. If I then needed the other levels, the fee would be an additional fee.

Also available at the TOS Store.

Be sure to visit our TOS Crew's Homepage for more insight on this and many other great products.

**Auralog provided me with the free copy of Tell Me More-German Series CD Kit, in order to test and use it with my family, so I could write this review.