Sunday, October 01, 2006

Homeschool Curriculum Review: Bob Jones Spanish

I don’t like admitting that I use Bob Jones Curriculum. When I canceled my Homesat subscription, they asked me for some feedback on my experience. My main complaint was that all their American History books have a Southern slant. In the future posts, I would like to point this out more clearly, such as the instances where they minimize the number of actual slave owners in the 1800s, and how they talk disparagingly of “radical” abolitionists.

However, I will say that there are other subject areas of their curriculum that have been excellent and that I highly recommend.

One of these is their high school Spanish series. I recorded the classroom instruction courses from Homesat, their satellite subscription service, which takes a lot of time and energy. These classes are now available on DVD. For $399 (without tax and shipping) you can get the books with the DVDs for a full year of instruction. You must return the DVDs when you are finished. Even though it is pricey, I think it is a great option.

The Homesat Experience.
The format of the class is a "LINC" class. It is a recording of an actual class that BJU teaches via satellite to small Christian schools around the country. The teacher communicates with these classes much like a teleconference, only you don’t see the students who watch the teacher on their own television monitors. The teacher communicates with the students by asking questions and having students respond by using a communication device like you see the audience using on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Students can also talk into it like a telephone and ask questions at the appropriate time in the class. When you rent it on DVD you won't be able to talk to the teacher, you'll just be an innocent bystander.

Being used to the freedom of homeschooling and working at your own pace, this part of the Homesat experience can be annoying. The teacher takes time at the beginning of class to take prayer requests for some kid's great Uncle Joe's tractor and things of that nature. You get students phoning in answers saying "TAKE-O" for taco and "MAY-AMMO FRED."

But remember, it could be worse. There aren't any f-bombs or bullies. This is all fairly harmless and innocent. It's Homesat and it is comfortable.

The teachers are not native speakers. However, again, the emphasis in not on speaking conversationally, but getting familiar with vocabulary, irregular verbs and grammar. BJU Spanish delivers all this in an organized easy to understand format.

Grading papers isn’t a big deal.

DD15 would correct her own worksheets, which were primarily short answer. I would correct quizzes and tests. I taught her how to make little memory cards for vocabulary, and she used that system throughout Spanish 2 and 3, although it wasn't heavy on memory work.

Especially nice is that included in vocabulary are words for Evangelicals. You'll get the basics to get you through any short-term mission trip to Mexico with flying colors. You even learn to pray and memorize key Bible verses in Spanish. I think this is the biggest plus of all. Learning a language is not about checking off a class for graduation, but taking the opportunity to learn how to communicate cross-culturally.

Was she really learning?

Transferring into public high school, DD15 felt confident that she could handle a Spanish 3 Honors class. So far she has found it to be her easiest class. Her teacher, a native speaker, even wondered if Spanish was spoken in our home.

I have threatened DD15 that if she gets into trouble, I will tell her teacher how she really knows Spanish....BOB JONES Spanish homeschool videos!

There is the variable in that my daughter likes learning foreign languages. It was never something I had to force her to do.

Well, sometimes I would catch her slacking off and I had to help her get on track. So...at times I had to crack my whip (just kidding you social workers). Overall, she enjoyed it and even worked at getting the right pronunciation. You do need to factor in personal motivation on a subject. For some students you will need to prod them in having respect for the language and people by working on correct pronunciation.

A Word about Pronunciation.
Correct pronunciation is partly a "heart" issue....you don't have to be perfect, but you should demonstrate effort in getting close to the right way of saying it. When you don't make an effort to speak it correctly, you show disrespect to the people who speak the language. It's like saying, "You (the people group) are not worth the time for me to learn to communicate with you in a way in which you would understand." I could be a little harsh in this, but I just think you need to put a little effort into it...that's all.

Ways to use the curriculum.

You could teach a couple of your children who are at different grade levels at the same time with this curriculum. A bright middle school child could use this with a little guidance and encouragement from you as a parent.

Maybe you could even sit in and learn along with your student! (Of course this is just hopeful thinking, I personally could not do something so ambitious at this stage in my life).

I give BJU Spanish high marks. It’s simple to use. You don’t have to teach it…just pop in the DVD. They can correct the homework. You can save your energy for giving them the skills to memorize and study for a test. You can confidently teach a foreign language to your high school student at home just like you do any other subject.

No comments: