Of all the subjects we cover in our homeschool, foreign languages are usually where our family struggles most. Maybe it’s because I am not fluent in a second language myself or because it’s taken us several years to click with a program that teaches French or Spanish for homeschool. Whatever the reason, language learning often falls to the bottom of our list.
This year, though, I hope to change that.
DISCLAIMER: I received free access to Vista Academy’s inaugural fall 2021 Spanish course for homeschooling students for review purposes and I was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own and I am not required to post a positive review.
Why We Need to Study a Second Language in Our Homeschool
As I wrote about last year, our family was determined to pick up some Spanish in 2020 in preparation for a winter spent in Mexico. Sadly, when travel restrictions made it impossible for us to go, the impetus to develop our Spanish-speaking skills also melted away.
But this year, I’m not letting us off the hook so easily. Not only will we still require those language skills when we do finally get to take our trip, but there are several other compelling reasons why my kids need to double down on their foreign language skills pronto.
- As my two older girls head into high school, it’s imperative that they stay on par with their schooled peers. Many universities in Canada require a grade 11 or grade 12 foreign language credit for admission, so they can’t afford to get behind now.
- Studying a foreign language boosts brainpower, improves memory, and sharpens the mind. (Maybe I should be studying Spanish harder too!)
- Foreign language training also helps students achieve higher results in other subject areas.
- Learning Spanish or another second language can also lead to greater creativity by increasing the range of ideas and stimuli you expose your brain to. My kids aren’t lacking at all in the creativity department, but as aspiring writers and creators, this is one area where I hope they never stop growing.
This year, we’re trying out Vista Academy’s inaugural fall 2021 homeschool Spanish courses for homeschooling students. So far, we’ve found this Spanish homeschool curriculum fantástico.
About Vista Academy
Vista Academy is a virtual world language school that provides an innovative learning environment with native speaker oversight and instruction. It uses the Vista Higher Learning platform to deliver online language learning training to over a million students worldwide. This fall, Vista Academy is launching its inaugural homeschool Spanish program for high school students.
How Vista Academy’s New Online Spanish Homeschool Curriculum Works
Vista Academy offers three levels of high-school Spanish, aptly named Spanish 1, 2, and 3. This review focuses solely on the Spanish 1 course, which would be suitable to a ninth grade student or any highschooler studying Spanish for the first time.
The Spanish for Homeschoolers course is a full-year program and you receive one year’s access to the program when you join.
There are two streams to choose from: ¡Olé! and ¡Bravo! The chart below summarizes the differences and similarities between the two programs. The foundation for each stream is the same, the differences primarily relate to the level of interaction with the teacher and other students.
The curriculum is designed for beginning-level students with little or no previous knowledge of Spanish. Students are introduced to a wide range of vocabulary and grammar while developing their listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills.
The course has six units, each of which is broken down into five phases. The lessons include: introductions and greetings, classroom vocabulary, family, hobbies, holidays, and shopping.
Within each of the five lesson parts, students have a huge variety of assignments to give them as much practice and exposure to the Spanish language as possible. Activities include:
- Presentation of vocabulary terms
- Vocabulary tutorials (listen and repeat)
- Matching spoken words to pictures
- Practice (this is not a complete list of activities–there are tons!)
- Listening to a question or statement and choosing the correct response
- Listening to a series of expressions and choosing the one that doesn’t belong
- Listening to a recording of a short exchange and determining what type of conversation it is
- Matching a spoken conversation to a picture
- Recording yourself speaking the vocabulary phrases and comparing it to a recording of a native speaker
- Putting a scrambled conversation in order
- Having a conversation with pre-recorded speaker.
- Short multiple choices quizzes
Student Dashboard Overview
While I would normally give you a bunch of screenshots here to show you all the various parts of the course dashboard and components, Vista Higher Learning has put together this excellent overview video that does a much better job explaining it than I ever could. Give it a quick watch to get an up-close look at the online learning platform.
Our Favorite Features of the Vista Academy Online Language Learning Program
Here are some of the things we enjoy most about the Vista Academy online homeschool Spanish program:
- I guess it turns out I’m a bit old school–I like to have a textbook to look at when I’m studying, particularly if the subject is as foreign to me as, well, a foreign language. I love that Vista Academy has taken the time to develop a digital textbook that can be used along with the online program as a supplemental resource. I can also print this out for easy reference.
- At first, I felt like the program jumps into the activities a little too quickly without giving me an overview of the vocabulary and phrases being taught, but then I discovered the vocabulary lists. Each lesson has a comprehensive list of all the vocabulary in the lesson along with the English definitions. I also printed these out for easy reference. (I’m really starting to feel like a dinosaur here! I do love online learning, but I also need a stack of paper resources at my side to help my ailing memory, so I assume my kids do too. They probably don’t!)
- Along the same lines, I like the digitized version of another old-school favorite: flash cards! Kids can navigate to the flash cards section and view flashcards for some or all of their learning sections. If they know the terms on the cards, they can mark them as done. If not, they can keep them in the stack and they’ll come up again.
- I love that they can contact a teacher via live chat if they have any questions about the platform or content.
- My kids are also big fans of interactive classes where they can connect with a teacher on Zoom. It helps keep them more accountable and makes them want to get their work done when they know there’s a real person checking in on them.
Who is Vista Academy’s Online Spanish for Homeschool Program Best For?
Vista Academy’s Online Spanish for homeschool programs would be a great fit for you if:
- You are not a Spanish speaker or you don’t have the time to teach your kids Spanish yourself (bonus: you can learn along with them when you use Vista Academy’s program. I’ve already picked up quite a few words!)
- You want to give your kids a premium online learning experience that covers a full-year of college prep Spanish on an engaging platform that was specifically designed for online language learning.
- You want an asynchronous (self-paced) program that can be done completely on your own schedule but still has the benefit of a live chat option with the teacher (choose the ¡Olé! stream).
- You want a self-paced program that included Live Zoom tutoring sessions with a native speaker teacher and small groups of students as well as interactive office hours (choose the ¡Bravo stream).
- You want to organize a customized class with five or more students and have them work interactively with each other. Vista Academy will put together a custom class at any time of the year if you place a request and have five or more students.
Learn More and Grab 20% Off
Want to learn more about Vista Academy’s inaugural fall 2021 Spanish courses for homeschooling students? Click the image below to visit their website and if you decide to try it out, use coupon code SPANISH20 to grab 20% off your enrolment fee.
Sophie Agbonkhese is a writer, homeschooling mother of four, and a recovering overachiever (who occasionally relapses). She is the founder of My Cup Runs Over, a site dedicated to helping busy women simplify and enrich their lives. When she’s not writing or debugging websites, Sophie spends her time reading, dancing, bullet journaling, reading, gardening, listening to audiobooks, and striving fruitlessly to have a clean house for at least five minutes.