Thursday, April 2, 2009

Product Review: Early Advantage Muzzy, the BBC Language Course for Children

We have used Muzzy for both German and Spanish language studies. The German sets we purchased, and the Spanish we were lucky enough to encounter at a local library while visiting relatives on vacation. This is another language course which uses the immersion method (not my favorite), but can be adapted into other forms of study. Your children will not become fluent in a foreign language using this set, but it is a good beginning, reference point, and accent trainer.

The sets we purchased came with two story DVDs in German, one German audio CD, one vocabulary builder DVD, a repeat of the story in English on DVD, a script book, and a German CD-ROM for each of the two level sets. We purchased the activity workbooks for the two levels separately. We have used these sets for about four years, and although we use them now mainly as reference material, we will probably continue to make use of them for some time yet.

The animation is a bit primitive, and some of the characters are a little bit ugly. One in particular, seems to be a vampire, and is seen stalking another character, and in later stories her daughter (even the children thought that was creepy).

The real value of series however, is the vocabulary builder DVD, which reviews just over 500 vocabulary words in flash card style. This has been a tremendous help to us in building vocabulary with proper pronunciation. The vocabulary is also included in the video script books, which include the 500 words of vocabulary, plus the entire story scripts printed in five different languages: English, German, Spanish, French and Italian. The potential for learning through reading, memorization, and acting out the story are fairly great here.

The accompanying workbooks, which can be purchased separately, are quite good, but would be difficult to teach without a previous knowledge of the language. I studied German for four years in college, and still found helping the children through the exercises a little difficult. However, there are not many German workbooks available for children, so we take what we can get.

Overall, we have been pleased with the program. I do not regret the purchase, and by the time I am completely done with the materials, I think I will have gotten all of my money's worth out of them. They are quite expensive, which can definitely be viewed as a negative, but one that is not uncommon to foreign language curriculum. For teaching beginning German to younger children, the cost is probably about right. Spanish and French might be another story however, since there are more options available in those languages.

If you are working with older children from 7th grade on up, this would not be a good option. There are other programs out there designed for the older grades, that are far superior. If you run into this set at a library though, it might be worth a shot with the older crowd.

It's great to be a homeschooler!

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