‒Chancellor Edward Lee Gorsuch
We started school in September knowing that we would have to focus on Foreign Language for my high schooler this year. In Mississippi, students are required to have two credits of Foreign Language for high school Graduation and althought he had taken some French and Spanish classes in middle school, my Eagle Scout has not taken any high school level language courses to date. As we discussed curriculum together this summer, I asked him which language he would like to make his focus in our quest for credits. He was quick to answer "German." I'm not sure if it's his fascination with World War II (shared with him by his great-grandfather when he was just a toddler) or his conversations with his Minecraft friend who spent a month in Germany this summer, but the Eagle Scout has often expressed an interest in learning to speak the German language. I've researched resources to help make this desire a reality and have even asked for a local instructor, but have been unsuccessful in finding a way to actually make it happen. Until now.
Thank goodness for Middlebury Interactive Languages. Developed specifically for students by linguistic experts, Middlebury Interactive Languages has full semester courses for students in Kindergarten through 12th Grade. Students can choose between Spanish, French, Chinese, and German semester courses and there's even an Arabic couse taught as a Summer Language Academy. To meet the graduation requirements, my 10th Grade Eagle Scout has been using Middlebury German Courses. The high school level German I course ($119) is divided into 18 Units that each contain 5 Lessons. That's 90 lessons for the first semester. A Middlebury semester is 18 weeks so a student can easily finish the entire course by completing just one unit a week doing one lesson a day.
Having had no German language training prior to beginning German I, the immersive aspects of the course have proven to be somewhat trying for the Eagle Scout and he has moved at a slightly slower pace than one lesson a day. He loves that German I is a self-paced program and he has the freedom to re-visit lessons until he feels confident enough to move on. Instead of working online 5 days a week, he completes lessons 4 days a week and makes every effort to completely understand the day's lessons before continuing. I like that he can work within the structure of the course and really fit it to his specific strengths.
Middlebury courses are designed to incorporate all four of the major language skills. Students HEAR the language, SPEAK the language, READ the language, and WRITE the language being studied. This is accomplished through video and interactive lessons where students listen to dialogue and can follow along with written transcipts, through quizzes that test comprehesion skills, through Culture Tidbits that teach about the sights and sounds of Germany and its population taking students on a first-hand tour of important places and cities, and Conversation Stations that test coversational skills in both English and German. The Eagle Scout enjoys the cultural visits more than anything else and struggles to speak the language clearly during the conversational training. I especially like that it is explained WHY learning languages is important and specifically why it is important to learn the German language. These explanations help to motivate my son to keep working and not to give up.
Each unit begins with stated objectives and goals so that students know what they will be learning and how they are expected to gain mastery of the vocabulary words taught in the unit. There are Vocabulary Guides that offer audio for each new word introduced AND printable pages that share the German words alongside their corresponding English words. It took the Eagle Scout a while to figure out how to use these printables -- he actually asked for a German/English Dictionary before he realized the printables gave you just what you needed for each unit -- but they have made all of the difference in his ability to succeed. Drag and drop matching games help him to clearly SEE the words in action.
Although he started out slowly, my Eagle Scout is beginning to understand and remember more German words and is beginning to grasp the very basics of the language. He is picking up the pace of study, repeating lessons less frequently, and pushing himself to learn more. Each lesson can be completed in about 20 minutes, so he is oftentimes working more than one lesson a day now. He is excited to complete German I and plans to re-watch some of his favorite WWII movies to hear and understand conversations like never before.
As always, I am excited to see my children learn new things.
Das Leben ist schön. (Life is good.)