Sunday, November 4, 2012

KidStart Spanish Review

Hi Guys! Here's my review of Reading Amigo, as originally posted on my old blog and migrated here.

It's a very cool program! And Ricardo Cuevas over at Reading Amigo is a fellow early learning parent and member of BrillKids, one of my absolute favorite early learning forums. If you have any questions about the program he is super friendly and helpful, as is the customer service department who responds in inquiries very quickly.

I had the opportunity to try out Reading Amigo with my kids, a new program to help teach your child to read in Spanish. We were excited to try this set as we have a decent collection of kids DVD’s with Spanish audio options but very few that teach reading, which I believe is one of the most vital parts of learning a new language.

From the KidStart Spanish Website:

How the Program Works

Your child watches the videos and will start to associate written words with their related action scenes.

Your child will hear the spoken words from the video and will start to associate sounds with written language.

By saying the words the child will reaffirm the connections between the visual, and audio imagery in the child’s mind.

By touching and playing with physical objects as we our interactive tools such as our Ipad and Iphone application your child’s mind will once again reaffirm and cement the newly acquired language. The complete path is completed between the audio, visual imagery, and the related motor skills.

The DVDs and flashcards teach words and phrases from the following subjects:

• Greetings
• Body Parts
• Household items
• Classic Children’s Music
• Barnyard Animals
• Foods
• Shapes
• Active Children’s Music
• Places
• Activities
• Colors
• Latin Landmarks
• Phrases
• Exotic Animals
• Review

What I like best about this program:
  • Overall, it is just really cute! It has a catchy and fun vibe to it, the music is lively, the colors are vibrant, and the kids are enthusiastic. It was designed from the perspective of a native Spanish-speaker. This is reflected in many of the words, song choices, and culturally significant landmarks shown.

  • The words are spoken clearly in multiple voices with underlining arrows to highlight left to right reading patterns. They are also repeated twice in succession to make sure it sinks in.

  • The children featured in this video are young children and babies, not just babies, so it will appeal to children across a wide age range.

  • It offers true to life footage of kids, animals, and objects intermixed with cartoon animations and various background. This variety appeals to multiple learning styles to help capture and maintain a child’s attention.
  • The quality of flash cards in this set is fantastic!  The color coding makes them super easy to organize and the surface is very glossy so they can be wiped clean. I have used other reading programs that use thick, slide-out word cards. The reading Amigo cards are much better because they’re far more durable and toddler friendly. Not only are those difficult to flash rapidly for right brain learning, my son unintentionally destroys them while trying to slide the words in and out because they bend so easily. He has ruined pretty much the entire set! So these are much better.
  • New words are introduced in every DVD but there is a significant amount of consistency and repetition of the songs throughout the DVD’s. Particularly when learning a second language, learning entire songs clearly requires more exposure than single words. In that respect, intermixing new words with familiar songs throughout the series is a great learning strategy.  Learning entire song lyrics by heart helps children develop their sense of sentence structure as well.  The frequent songs are a great way to break up the words with lively music and maintain interest.
  • The font in the “Book of Opposites” is HUGE, making it visible for even tiny babies, which I love! It can be difficult to source books with font that is truly big enough, but the text size in this book is ideal and comfortable for all ages. With my kids, I notice even as they get a bit older they simply prefer larger font. When I was transitioning my daughter from flashcards to books, she seemed to find small print intimidating, so this is especially great for giving babies and toddlers a gentle transition in that area.
  •  My son especially loves the corresponding App included with the program. The picture and audio quality is excellent and my kids naturally repeat the words while  intuitively flipping through the program. The images are sharp and spoken clearly, first displaying the image and then the dimming it to show the word over the picture. My kids love i-things so it’s a great tool for reinforcing the material from the videos.
Overall, my kids (ages 2 and 3) really love the program  and as a parent, I am thrilled that they are practicing their Spanish while having fun! The songs are their favorite part of course. Our babysitter is a native of Bolivia and the first thing she commented on was how culturally authentic the program is, which certainly impressed me! The kids are already singing along and have learned lots of new words. It is quality programs like Reading Amigo that are helping change the way young children learn. This program is ideal for native speaking families and families learning Spanish alike–our family gives it two thumbs up!


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