Since I am married to a native Spanish speaker, I was extra excited to receive a temporary subscription to Speekee in exchange for my review. Although I took Spanish in college, Latin was and is my first love. Hence, I have never been as diligent about learning Spanish as I should have been. After almost two decades with my husband and his family, I can follow conversations, but I lack the basic grammar to fully engage in them. I've already made one mistake in not immersing my children in Spanish from the start (which would result in adults like my husband - equally fluent in Spanish and English, with perfect native accents in both languages). Speekee is a great way to begin immersion training with very young children.
There is much debate on the best way to teach children a language. Some people are partisans of immersion training, in which one experiences repeated exposure to Spanish-only speaking, with an emphasis on learning vocabulary trumping the need for formal grammar. Speekee fits this mold perfectly.
Speekee comes from the UK, but thanks to their online videos, the program is equally accessible in the U.S. After a free trial two-week period, subscribers can continue to use Speekee for the price of $7.50 per month.
So what does your subscription to Speekee buy? Essentially, the course consists of ten videos, each approximately 15-20 minutes long, featuring native Spanish speaking children engaging in daily activities with Speekee, the title character puppet. Speekee and the children (along with the adult, Jim) sing and dance while teaching children basic Spanish vocabulary thematically. One video focuses on modes of transportation, so there are several different vignettes in which the children use the words "barco" (boat), "coche" (car), etc. The emphasis on the theme words is punctuated by repetition of small phrases in Spanish, like those meaning, "is it yours?" and "it is mine." Finally, along with each video, there are downloadable worksheets to complement the lesson.
My first impression of Speekee was that my children would not like it. It seemed too simplistic and young for them. I was hugely surprised to find out exactly how much they loved it! My nine year-old was definitely too old, plus with several years of Latin under her belt, she is used to learning language in a far more systematic way than Speekee presents it. My seven year-old and my six year-old twins, however, can't get enough of Speekee! The definitely think the program is funny, but they also love the songs and they love feeling like they have started to learn Spanish!
An advantage of not being a seasoned reader is the fact that you don't have time to assimilate the subtitles in Speekee, so you truly are learning by immersion and exposure. For young children who don't really have the tools to study language more formally, Speekee is the perfect introduction to Spanish. It is gentle and friendly, much like an episode of Sesame Street.
Although the Speekee website indicates that the program is intended for ages 2-10, I think much depends on the individual child. As I said, my nine year-old is too old for the program, but I know several ten year-olds I think would love it. As for my own children, I can definitely attest to the fact that 6-7 is a perfect age.
Because Speekee is intended to be immersion and, hence, each video should be watched several times, you should certainly plan on subscribing, rather than assuming you can watch all of the videos in the free two week trial period. The advantage of the monthly subscription is that you can decide how long to use Speekee with your children. If they learn very quickly, you are not out a large sum for an annual subscripton.
I learned a valuable lesson with this review: I don't always know what will appeal to my children. Thus, if you think that Speekee may not work with your kids, I really encourage you to take advantage of the free trial before making a decision. If you are interested in subscribing, or in learning more about Speekee, visit their webiste at Speekee. You can find other ways to contact Speekee on their contact form, but email will probably work best, as the company is based in the UK.
To find out what other Crew members thought about Speekee, visit the Crew Blog.