Friday, January 21, 2011

Homeschool Review: Speekee

Since we've been learning Spanish this year, I was thrilled to get the chance to review Speekee. Since it's from the UK, and apparently European DVDs don't always play on American DVD players (who knew?), they let us review their new, online subscription. For a low monthly fee (seriously, $7.50/month, what a bargain!!!) , you can watch the videos on your computer and download and print several great worksheets to go with each video. There are also additional "teaching suggestions" under each video with fun activities like making sock puppets, to make learning fun.

Speekee is an immersion program. The videos are 100% Spanish, and the children learn, much as babies learn their native tongue, but figuring out the words based on context.  There is the option to turn on closed captioning however, which gives the dialog in both Spanish and English.

Speekee, is the purple puppet you see pictured above, and she (he? *I* think it's a girl, others of the TOS Crew reviewers, and their children, are convinced it's a boy) is in all the videos, along with the same group of children (and one adult, Jim), and the 2 sock puppets (Dino and Lupi). Speekee and the children visit various places (a house, school, the market, the park . . .) in the videos, and learn words associated with these places. Each video builds on the one before, reinforcing words already learned, and adding new words.

During school time, we watch one Speekee video, sometimes a new one, sometimes going back to re-watch one we've seen before. The big girls found it extremely frustrating to try to figure out the words w/o English, so we leave the close-captioning on for them. Depending on the day, we sometimes will do some worksheets as well.

This program is designed for ages 2-10.  Little Bit (22 mo) LOVES it!! It's hard to tell how much she's learning, since she's not talking much yet, but she loves watching the videos. And will often ask for "Peekee" (accompanied by the sign for "wolf", I'm not sure WHY she thinks Speekee is a wolf, but whatever . . . ).  The big girls (7 1/2) aren't big fans, they think Speekee is "for little kids", and as I mentioned, they got extremely frustrated when we tried to watch it without the captions.  So, at least in our house, this would be more of a "preschool" option. For that age, I think it's great. The songs are catchy, and you do learn basic Spanish, almost without trying.

Personally, I'd rather have a DVD than online videos. BUT since it's a European company it's great that they've set up the online option for their American customers. And if you're using it alot, the monthly price is a great deal! If Little Bit were a year older, I think we'd be keeping the subscription until she'd fully "digested" all the videos. And we may re-visit it for her in a year or two.

Interestingly, while the big girls haven't been fans of the videos (they *have* learned from them though, whether they'll admit it or not, hee hee), they do like the worksheets. I found many of the worksheets included more writing than I wanted to get into with them at this age. Spelling and writing is still a new skill for them in English, so being able to write in Spanish isn't something I care about for them right now, it seemed to me that alot of the worksheets were geared quite abit older than what I would consider the target age of the videos. But, obviously, each parent can pick and choose which worksheets will be a good fit for their child(ren).

You can check out other reviews for this product on the TOS Crew Blog.

Disclaimer: I received a 2 month subscription to Speekee online, in exchange for writing this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.


Julie Coney said...

Fellow TOS member stopping by... You mentioned that your youngest signed wolf for Speekee. Do you just sign to help with communication?

I am curious. I studied Sign as a college student and worked for a time at a deaf school in CA. I love sign, but I am rusty....
there is no one here to practice with :)

Sweetpeas said...

We have a bunch of the Signing Times videos & used them with the big girls when they were toddlers, and now with Little Bit. The big girls ended up learning to talk as fast as they learned the signs, so they never did much with the signs, but Little Bit really took off with signing. My problem is, I don't do well sitting and watching a video, so now Little Bit knows some signs that I don't LOL. The big girls have enjoyed learning some signs along with her though, they like that they can "talk" in church and such by signing LOL. But yes, I find signing to be SUCH a life-saver for this age where they know what they want, but can't always say the words. We never really had "terrible twos" with the big girls,and I really think a big part of it was that they could communicate.

Jim said...

Hello Sweetpeas, Thanks so much for your review of Speekee. I am very interested to learn what you have got out of it as a family. I have noted what you have said about the worksheets, as we are designing a curriculum for homeschoolers. ¡AdiĆ³s! Jim (the one in Speekee)