My Honest Review of Calico Spanish

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Today I’m going to give a full review on the Calico Spanish Curriculum.  I always knew I would teach a foreign language in our homeschool curriculum.  My family is Asian and most of them speak at least one dialect of Chinese.  I don’t speak any.  In fact, I only understand when I’m being yelled at or talked about.  Growing up it drove me crazy because my relatives would always speak to each other in Chinese when they didn’t want us kids to know what they were saying.  So foreign language was huge to me.

The school I had sent my child to offered French.  I thought this was going to be great because I wouldn’t have to teach a foreign language.  But as time went on, I couldn’t figure out why I never heard any French being spoken at home.  When the school went to a distance learning platform, I realized that the children were only getting a short french lesson two days a week.  Not enough to remember or speak efficiently.  I personally can’t make heads or tails of French.  No matter how hard I try it all sounds like gibberish to me.  So I had trouble helping practice. 

I had taken several years of Spanish in high school and had always wanted to continue learning it.  I find it far easier to understand and speak than both Chinese and French.  Plus, where we live it is a very common language that is spoken.  This makes it easier to practice.  After lots of research, I decided to give Calico Spanish a try.  I really wanted something that had videos available to use. I thought that videos would be the most engaging for a child just starting a new language.

Quick Overview

Pros & Cons of Calico Spanish

Pros
  • Open and go curriculum
  • Videos and songs are catchy and fun
  • Simple and Easy to Use
  • Good basic introduction to Spanish for elementary kids
  • Can be used for multiple children
  • No set grade level
  • Subscription cost is for the year and materials can be printed for free or used online
Cons
  • Cost may be a lot for some especially if using multiple levels
  • Printing free materials is time consuming
  • Lessons may be too basic or repetitive for those who have prior Spanish experience
  • Grammar really is not taught and can make more than basic conversation difficult
  • Videos do not accelerate as the children continue going through the lessons which can make it hard for advanced children to pay attention
  • Program is not designed for older children

 

 

The Program

Calico Spanish is broken into levels.  It has Level A to Level D.  Each level is meant to take about a year to complete.  The levels do not coincide with a grade level.  This means that you can start them at any age.  WIthin these levels are units.  Each of these units are broken into days.  The program is designed to be open and go.  As a parent, you literally just pick the day that you are on and it lets you know which video to watch, which flash cards to use and any worksheets that need to be done.

Each level has a teacher’s guide, a student workbook, flash cards, videos, music videos, mini storybooks, and downloadable posters.  You have the ability to purchase all the hands-on products as a package when you start each level or you can choose to download and print them for free.  You can also move from level to level without paying more.  This would allow you to use the program for children of different ages or learning abilities.

 

My Experience

The Calico Spanish Homeschool pricing is $89 per year for the online subscription.  The Level A Visuals Pack is an additional $99. Each level that you are using has its own Visuals Pack.  As you go up in levels they go up in price.  These are the materials you will use during the year.  Most of these items can be printed for free.  I chose the print for free method.  

Honestly, I wish I had spent the money and purchased the hands on materials.  I had to print out the workbooks and teacher’s guide.  Once I did that, I took them to the office supply store to get them bound.  The flash cards had to be printed page by by page and then had to be cut out.  After printing, I had to laminate them so they could be used all year.  Then I had to cut them out. It was way too much work.  I would definitely splurge and get the package.  It would have been so much easier.  Also, the storybooks can’t be printed at all so you can only get them if you purchase them.  They are available in the levels to watch.  But, I don’t think it’s quite the same.  The reader uses a monotone voice which is not exciting to listen to.

Calico Spanish is designed to introduce Spanish in a gentle manner.  Each level builds on the last level.  It focuses on dialogue between characters in the stories.  It doesn’t teach much in the way of grammar at all.    

 

The Pros

This program was a wonderful introduction to Spanish for my child.  The songs are catchy and easy to sing along with.  The videos are simple and easy to watch.  The characters are likable and the worksheets are very simple to do.  The provided teachers guide has the translations available so that you can explain what things mean.  The instruction is extremely straightforward and I was able to easily give day to day instruction.

The posters that are available were a personal favorite of mine.  I was able to print them out and put them up around the classroom for easy reference guides.  By the end of the year, my child enjoyed speaking Spanish and was able to have a basic conversation when speaking to someone who spoke the language.  This program was vastly superior to the foreign language education he had gotten from school.

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The Cons

This program has several issues which need to be mentioned.  While the program could be used to introduce older kids to Spanish, it is definitely meant for elementary kids. It would be difficult to use with multi age children because of this.  You would need more than one program depending on the age ranges of your children.

Another issue I found is that the program is redundant.  I know your thinking that being repetitive is a good thing.  You’re right! it is.  But the program never speeds up.  The videos are spoken very slowly and deliberately.  I thought that as you advanced through the program it would advance with the child.  But it does not.  So over time it begins to feel very slow and almost unnecessarily repetitive.  I found myself tuning out as the months progressed.

On top of that, there is very little instruction on how to go about having real conversation with your children.  I found that there was more listening and watching than actual speaking.  When we would practice this in real life situations, more often than not, I found people correcting our grammar.  Which makes sense since Spanish has multiple ways to say the same thing based on the situation you are in. Calico Spanish only teaches the basic way to say things without any grammar instruction.

 

Why We Are Discontinuing Calico

We made the choice to discontinue this program this year.  I want to be clear.  This is an excellent program for smaller children with no prior knowledge of Spanish.  I was extremely pleased with the first year and I am happy that we went through the program.  It was a great introduction to begin Spanish with. 

However, I think it is time for something more challenging for our family.  I also think I would like something that requires more conversation and dialog between students or between students and teacher.  It is very hard to learn a language that you don’t speak regularly.  I would personally like to see more in the way of conversational practice in this program.  So we are searching out something else.

I hope this review helps you in your search for curriculums.  I will let you know when we find something else.

If you enjoyed reading this post, be sure to check out My Experience with All About Spelling.  Let me know what your favorite language curriculum is in the comments below.

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