Friday, January 21, 2011


I have never been a fan of time travel.  You end up spending your time thinking about what should've, could've, would've, instead of experiencing this daily life you already have.  And if you could time travel, imagine all the new decisions you would face; what do you change, (after all, why relive the past if you can't change it) and what consequences is it going to have?  There is also the dread of knowing what is going to happen.  All the life would be sucked out of life.

With that being said, sometimes I do get a little wistful.  And Speekee, a Spanish program for younger kids, is definitely a wistfulness instigator.

When Dragonette was 2, she was already a master of the English language.  She could talk your ear off and if that got old, was not beyond reading your other ear off.  So I, her earless mother, was always on the look out for something to pour into that head of hers.  I tried to interest her in French, after all, I had taken four years of it in high school and her father had taken two, so I figured we could handle the basics. But that stubborn streak (I won't mention where she got that) was a mile long and dear little Dragonette insisted upon Spanish.

Now let me just begin that a decade ago in a small town NE town in Ohio, Spanish was not in abundance.  Not in the stores, nor the population, and definitely not the library.  The few videos available were, to a 2 year old, insipid.  Needless to say, other than what Dora the Explorer taught, Dragonette did not learn Spanish.

What I would have done if SpeekeeTV had been available to us like it was these last few months!  Imagine a Sesame Street that teaches Spanish instead of English.  Complete with puppets, kids, colors, numbers, subtitles in English and Spanish, and catchy songs.
Speekee, Dino, and Lupi

Speekee is program that currently has 10 episodes that are 15-20 minutes long. There is a host puppet, Speekee, along with sock puppets Lupi and Dino, a human man named Jim, and a cast of human kids.  There is a loose format to each episode, where opening and closing songs are sung, along with visiting a new place each episode (the store, the playground, the zoo, the school, etc.)  Vocabulary is covered for each place, as is a review of numbers, colors, and vocabulary from earlier episodes.  Common phrases (like "Where are we going") are used repetitively and everything is captioned on your computer screen in English and Spanish.  That is very convenient for visual learners who need to see what is being said, and for parents who don't have a clue about Spanish.
10 episodes available

Activities to download/print
But what really sets this program apart is the activities found with each episode.  There are not only recipes and activities you can try, but worksheets to reinforce what is being said.  Some writing, some drawing, some coloring, but most importantly, you are learning how to write the language as you learn it.  I wish high school language classes had been this fun.

Now the suggested ages for this program is 2-10 years old.  I don't have any little littles around anymore, but I signed up for this program because Dragonette has finally got her wish and is enrolled in Spanish 1 and I was intrigued about what she would think about the songs.

We started watch on the computer, but four of us crowded around the monitor is not a pretty sight.  We were thrilled when the Wii option was added, as watching on our TV was much more comfortable. On the Wii, Speekee was more challenging, as there were no subtitles.  This would be true immersion for first time viewing, or a good way to test if you really are picking up the Spanish. If I had young children, I would have definitely let this run often during the day, but as a family with older kids, we often found ourself waiting for Dad to get home so we could watch as a family.  What other puppets do you know that inspire a whole family to sit down and watch?

Speekee and Jim
I like the puppets; I like that it is not dumbed down; I like the subtitles; I like the worksheets; but most of all, I love the songs.  All four of us walk around the house singing these ditties because they get stuck in your head. My Latin learner and my jobsite Spanish speaker are totally into it with Dragonette, and are always having to coach poor Mom, who gets her English, French, and now Spanish very, very jumbled in her head.

So if I had a time machine, I would definitely take Speekee back to that small NE Ohio town's library and deal with the consequences. 

Speekee is available in 2 formats, DVD and streaming (SpeekeeTV).

  • The Speekee DVDs are produced in Europe and use the PAL format for colour encoding. US / Canadian systems use the NTSC format as standard. Many, but not all, North American DVD players are capable of playing PAL media. If you are based in North America, please check your equipment before purchase. Alternatively, subscribe for Speekee TV
  • 4 DVD video discs, 34-track audio CD plus 70 page guide
  • 30 money-back guarantee
  • The price is in British pounds (95.00) so your price will depend on the current exchange rate
Speekee TV
  • All 10 episodes plus the activities
  • can be streamed on your computer with the subtitles or through your Wii's Internet channel without the subtitles (great for practicing to see if you really know what is going on)
  • can subscribe monthly for $7.50 and yearly for $75.00
There is a free two week trial for SpeekeeTV.  You do have to enter your credit card number, but customer service has been excellent for the Review Crew, and not only put prices in American dollars with a yearly option at our request, but also talked to their tech guy and within a few days of being asked, had figured out how to make SpeekeeTV available on the Wii. I have very high praise for their attention to their customers' concerns.

    1 comment:

    1. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL REVIEW! If I could travel back in time, I would visit your house and observe you watching Speekeee as a family, once Dad was home. Love to you all from Jim (the one in Speekee)