What is Speekee? It is a funny name for a funny little purple puppet who loves to teach kids how to speak in Spanish! Filmed in Spain and using native Spanish speakers, this series of videos is available on DVD or as an online subscription. The DVD set is formated for European players, so most American readers will want to go with the online subscription. This option is $7.50 a month.
Speekee is especially created to help younger learners, from toddlers up, develop Spanish skills using the immersion method. What is that? Immersion is the way we learned our native tongue- no translations, just letting our brains figure out the meaning. That is the only way to become truly proficient at a language, because it eliminates the mental translation stage. Speekee does contain closed captioning, in both Spanish and English to help the parents and teachers. You can shut this off if it is keeping true immersion from happening.
There are ten videos in all, each taking place in a different setting like the park, the zoo, and the home. Several basic concepts are included in the videos, like counting, colors, food and family names, and basic phrases. These are taught in a very natural way using story lines, songs, and simple conversations. You, as the teacher, do NOT need to know even basic Spanish to use this. All you have to do is watch the programs with your little ones and you will learn too!
Each movie includes worksheets to go along with it. These do require that the child be able to do at least basic writing. I would recommend focusing on the videos and simple games with younger ones. It is pretty easy to so short role-playing with puppets, stuffed animals, or toys. You can mimic the conversations in the videos or just play along with them while you watch it. Encourage your children to say the words and then start using them in everyday life as you learn them.
So what did we think of Speekee? I loved it! I like watching the movies and I really feel like I am picking up the language without any translation in my head, and I have never experienced this before so it is really neat. The kids are picking it up easily as well. They sometimes have trouble following what is happening in the story on the first or second viewing, but I think that is normal with immersion. The girls love the movies, and Baby girls always asks to "Watch Peekee!" CJ is a little reserved about them, and says he doesn't want to watch. But as soon as I start it he is right there joining in.
They have all picked up several phrases very quickly, and have started using them all the time. "Me gusta" was the first, and I think Baby Girl actually forgot how to say yummy in English! They are also using several of the words for different fruits, and saying please and thank-you in Spanish. Bop even asked me for "Un manzana" (an apple) this week.
I was really surprised at how quickly our kids picked up the language using these DVDs. I really did very little in the way of supplemental/ support activities. I can think of so many really fun things to do along with this, that would really get the kids SPEAKING. I am sure that they would learn even more using different activities, but even if all you use are the movies, they will pick up a lot.
You can sign up for a two-week preview of Speekee to see if it is right for you, and the subscription is on a month-by-month basis. You really don't have anything to lose, and I cannot recommend this highly enough for those who are wanting to start their little ones learning a new language.
There are only two downfalls that I found to this program. ONE: You will have the catchy tunes from Speekee running through your head at the oddest times. Like the middle of the night. TWO: Your kids may start speaking Spanish instead of English. They may tell you things you don't want to hear. They may point at you and say, "Un GRANDE mama!"
This is a true story.
Speekee website. To read more TOS Crew reviews, go The Old Schoolhouse Crew blog.
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