Calico Spanish Stories Online vs. Middlebury Interactive

Calico Spanish Stories Online and Middlebury Interactive World Language Curriculum both provide schools with online, video-based, immersion-style curriculum developed by experts in language education in light of national language proficiency standards.

Beyond these similarities, we note some differences that will help you choose the product that best fits your school. Calico Spanish Stories Online is a program exclusively focused on helping young children experience Spanish in a way that is fully comprehensible.

A program for the family

At Calico Spanish we know that it’s tempting to look far and wide for a program that promises children can work as independently as possible. We firmly believe that world language study, however, is not the subject where that feature is the highest priority. We believe that focusing on language study as “independent learning” and “self-study,” especially for young children, is attractive but deceptive: a life-long language journey is always experienced in community.

Comprehensible now, authentic later

The Video Stories that form the core of the Calico Spanish Stories Online program are designed in every way to be as comprehensible as possible to young children without offering English translations. In the videos, children will see arrows, character movements, and flash cards that help them understand. The narrator will ask them many questions per story, offering alternative answers to help them move from yes/no and either/or answers to producing Spanish answers to questions. All Spanish audio in the program is recorded by native speakers, but the content has been manipulated to focus on high-frequency words, phrases, and situations that children can relate to and understand from the start.

Children working with the Middlebury Interactive program will find that in an effort to focus on the authenticity of the language, comprehensible words and phrases that are targets of a story, for example, will be surrounded by complex language incomprehensible to early learners.

Teachers using Calico Spanish Stories Online will find authentic cultural and Spanish-language resources in our Culture Capsules and in the lesson-supplementing links online, but these are opportunities for the children to explore. An authentic resource created for a child even four or five years old contains language that is directed at someone who has had years of extensive input in Spanish already, not a young language learner. At Calico Spanish, we prefer to make our language-learning input rich but simplified to be comprehensible with children beginning this journey.

Culture Capsules on an inquiry model

Middlebury Interactive integrates authentic resources into their materials that present language and cultural concepts at the same time. With the Calico Spanish Stories Online program, we have chosen to use an inquiry model to develop separate Culture Capsules that accompany each level. Each Capsule is directly related to the lessons’ content in the level, but invites teachers and children to explore in English the cultures of the Spanish-speaking peoples. Within the Capsule, your class will investigate deep cultural questions and compare the answers they find to their own cultural perspectives and practices. These Capsules are not independent of our language goals, however; each one ends in a real Spanish-language task, usually based on an authentic resource such as a house-for-sale advertisement, that supports national standards in intercultural competence.

Making the choice

Middlebury Interactive World Languages curriculum is an attractive program for schools wanting their students to work on languages other than Spanish, or to work independently. Classes of older children or those who desire a program featuring high levels of complex, authentic language may find it particularly fitting for their language journey. Also, Middlebury Interactive offers one-on-one online teacher support and feedback.

Teachers who are looking for a program to experience together with their learners with language input designed to be highly comprehensible for young children beginning their Spanish journey will want to further explore Calico Spanish Stories Online.

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