Please Note: A Beka does not sell their materials to Exodus Books. The following overview is meant to help you evaluate A Beka as a curriculum, and give you some other options to consider as well.
As they do for many other subjects, A Beka stresses a primarily practical purpose behind learning a foreign language (French and Spanish). The primary impetus for them is to enable broader evangelism. The course, therefore, is more concerned with conversational fluency than with technical proficiency. Formal proficiency is not ignored, however, as the courses both use a grammatical approach to instruction.
How Do These Work?
Though A Beka has made itself known as a home school-friendly publisher, they stress in both Spanish and French the importance of the classroom due to the oral and aural nature of learning a new language. In the classroom students are able to converse, review orally and check their own and each other’s homework aloud.
There are two years each for Spanish and French. Designed as high school electives, they can be used anytime from grades 7-12 (the content would be too much for younger students unless they’re linguistic geniuses). Each year is covered in two consumable student texts with 32-35 chapters altogether.
Spanish 1 includes the two-volume student text, teacher guide, vocabulary manual with accompanying teacher edition, test book and key, vocabulary CD and pronunciation CD; only the test book/key is optional. Spanish 2 is more manageable, with two consumable student books, teacher guide, vocabulary manual with teacher edition, and test book with key; again, only the test book is optional. There is a Spanish praise songbook optionally available for both levels.
As with the Spanish course, French 1 is more involved than French 2. French 1 includes two consumable student worktexts, teacher guide, vocabulary manual with teacher edition, oral mastery exercises book, test book with key, vocabulary CD and pronunciation CD. The same elements are included in French 2 with the exception of the CDs and oral mastery exercises.
The layout of both courses is standard A Beka. For the most part students can read the text, listen to the CDs, and complete the exercises on their own, though teacher supervision is also required.
Review is heavily emphasized, especially oral review. Exercises center on vocabulary and grammar and are mostly of the fill-in-the-blank variety. Tests are multiple choice, matching, and fill-in-the-blank. Student books are sparsely illustrated in black and white, and the pictures are generally illustrative of concepts being taught.
The recommended teaching schedule is five days a week, 36 weeks per year. One day a week should be devoted to each of the following: vocabulary, grammar, verse, grammar, and reading, with daily review on top of introduction of new topics. Detailed lesson plans are provided in the teacher guides, as well as answers to all written exercises and general philosophy of language instruction.
Biblical emphasis is maintained throughout. Students learn Scripture verses in the foreign language, and vocabulary includes Christian terms and phrases unlikely to be in most other foreign language programs. You won’t need to worry about any objectionable content sometimes present in secular courses, though you may also be frustrated by the lack of some vocabulary omitted.
Our Honest Opinion:
These are pretty standard foreign language courses. Students will get a foundational grounding in Spanish or French grammar and usage, and be prepared for further study if they want to pursue it. Most users, however, complain that unless the teacher is personally well versed in the language the course is extremely difficult to use; some Spanish-speaking teachers even find the course awkward to implement. Of course, the argument could be used that only a fluent speaker should be trying to teach a given language anyway, but for homeschoolers this often isn’t feasible. For Spanish or French that is less teacher intensive (due to computer software-based instruction) we suggest you consider Tell Me More.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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