Tuttle Publishing’s Easy Mandarin Chinese Review


Easy Mandarin Chinese by Tuttle Publishing is a complete language course which focuses on daily practical conversations. It is best for those who are traveling to a Mandarin speaking country or those who wish to understand the basics of the language. It comes with an Audio CD of the lessons being spoken by a native Mandarin speaker to guide the student as he learns about the language. Mandarin language is spoken in many Asian countries and this is being taught through the PinYin or english pronunciation guide.

This book has 20 Chapters and the topics include greetings, introducing yourself, going shopping, eating, making a phone call, feeling unwell, geography, riding to the airport and farewell. It even has a glossary section where the common words are listed in pinyin with their english meaning.


In the beginning of every chapter, there is a comic section where you see the characters talking in pinyin and in english. Then the dialogue is written again on the first page of the chapter. The lessons are written down in english in the grammar notes section. Then for application, the pattern practice follows plus the exercises. There is an answer key at the end of the book.

It is a very easy to use language book and very straight forward. My son and I have been going through the book for the past month now and we’ve been going slowly so he remembers the words he’s been learning to speak. This is very helpful as we only want to tackle basic and common phrases. Even for a non Mandarin speaker, Easy Mandarin Chinese is easy to follow and understand.

Hopefully, at the end of our school year, my son will be fluently speaking basic Mandarin so he is ready for our future travels!

For more information about this book, you may check Tuttle Publishing website and Tuttle Publishing FB page.

Middlebury Interactive Languages Middle School German Review

Learning different languages has been part of our homeschool. This year, as part of the Homeschool Review Crew, we were given a 6 month access to Middlebury Interactive Languages. My 7th grade daughter wanted to learn a new language so she chose to try the Middle School German 1 class.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
Middlebury Interactive Languages is not new to our family. We have actually tried the Elementary Chinese  Course a few years back. We loved how the program uses the immersive approach in developing one’s skill in languages so we were quite excited how the Middle School German 1 course will help my daughter understand German and appreciate Germany’s culture.

About the Company

Middlebury Interactive Languages offers K-12 Language programs in French, German, Chinese and Spanish. Each language has elementary, middle school and high school courses. Though the products are not credit bearing, the lessons are aligned with the standards of the leading world language and digital learning organizations (ACTFL and iNACOL). The courses are designed to deliver a holistic learning approach through reading, writing, listening and speaking activities in digital format.

About the Product

The Middle School German 1  course consists of 18 weeks or units (90 days) of content.  In each unit, there are 10 lessons. There are 2 semesters and for each semester, there is a midterm and a final exam. This is a self-paced program ideal for 6th Grade-8th Grade students.  The program is good for beginners.

The course introduces common vocabulary terms and phrases. At the end of the course, students should be able to follow the grammar patterns, participate in simple conversations and communicate using basic conversational phrases.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}

Using the system is fairly easy as you only need to have a stable internet connection and a browser to access the program. Upon log-in to the system, the student will see the dashboard. The lessons that she can learn for the day will be displayed here.

You may also check the Table of Contents to see the entire course.


There is also a calendar where  the lessons are already scheduled daily so you can finish the entire course on time.  But this is just a recommendation, you may choose to go faster or slower than the recommended pace.

The lessons are very visual but it is also good for auditory learners as there is a green button where you can play the audio file of the entire slide. The lessons are very interactive too. You can answer the questions thru the drop down menu and there is an auto-correct button to see if your answers are correct. The left side of the screen shows the slides that you will be studying for the entire lesson. You can move forward or go back as you may want to review old lessons.


The lessons also include cultural topics. This allows the student to get immersed on the culture of the language as well. It creates an awareness of the different lifestyle of the German people. There are some videos of the architectures that you can find in Berlin, Germany too.


The pop-quiz results are recorded in the gradebook section. If you need to see the grades of your student, then this is the place to go. If you want to see what your student has completed,  you may also browse through the different slides of the lessons and see which ones has a check mark which signifies your student has completed the lessons.

What I Thought of the Product

I really like this product for our homeschool and here are the reasons why:

  • Product requires minimal parental supervision.
  • Thorough language lessons yet very holistic in approach as it includes a study of culture as well.
  • Systematic and step-by-step lessons easy for beginners to understand the language thoroughly.
  • The product without teacher support is being sold at $119 only.
  • If you need teacher support, there is an option to get teacher support with a higher fee.

For more information, please follow the social media accounts of Middlebury Interactive Languages!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Middlebury-Interactive-Languages-141015515949753/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MiddInteractive   @middinteractive
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/middinteractive/

To read the reviews of the Homeschool Review Crew on other products of the Middlebury Interactive Languages, please click on the image below.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
Crew Disclaimer

Language Helps for Children

Learning a new language can be extremely difficult. Adults and teenagers have had challenges learning a new language for a class, job or for any other type of reason. A new language can be difficult for children as well. However, there are helps for children.

Understanding Children
Children learn differently than adults. Although this may seem like an obvious statement, it is true. Adults may attend lectures and conferences in order to gain further knowledge, but children learn other ways. When learning a new language, it can help children to experience a school that features a specific language. A Chinese immersion school or a similar one can help children receive the instruction that is needed in order to function efficiently in the current century.

Helpful Parents
Parents can often be overlooked in terms of helping children with schooling, but they play a vital role in a child learning a new language. Parents can help with vocabulary and other similar types of schoolwork. In addition to this, parents can keep their children accountable for homework. Furthermore, parents can provide their children with the unconditional love and support that is needed when they feel down due to learning a new skill. The personal involvement of parents can never be overlooked.

Like any other skill in life, learning a new language takes practice and patience. Parents and teachers can work together in enabling children to succeed. The result is that a child can thrive in learning a new language.

French Essentials Review

As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we were asked to review the  French Essentials program. We were given a one-year Full Access Online Program.

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My 9 year old, 4th grade daughter and I were very excited as we are both facinated with foreign languages. I can remember wanting to learn French back in college but wasn’t able to pursue it. My daughter who is taking up ballet lessons wants to learn more French as well.

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French Essentials is a downloadable French curriculum with online exercises, lesson tests and cultural lessons. This product was designed by Irene Shone and Greg Shone. They are both french teachers who started to tutor friends in their homeschooling community. Later they developed DVD French Curriculum for home use and in August 2010, they decided to make it more affordable and accessible by moving the curriculum to a downloadable format.

French Essentials focuses on the 4 areas of language acquisition skills which include reading, writing, listening comprehension and speaking. The language is taught using a step-by-step method with video and audio instructions. Students can listen and repeat the audio and visual instruction on the actual lesson page. The video lessons have 3 steps process which focuses on students watching, listening, repeating and speaking.  The lessons are reinforced with fun and challenging exercises from the printable PDF workbook. This helps the student practice their writing and reading skils. The online exercises reinforces the comprehension of the student by understanding grammar and sentence structure. The student area offers different activities as well:

  • Online flash cards
  • Listening comprehension & spelling
  • 2 challenging games (Scatter & Space race)
  • A Test section that gives parents 4 different evaluation options.

The student area also includes a section about Francophone culture. It gives a background about the richness of the language and a brief history lesson.

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The program currently offers 5 modules. Modules 6-10 will be coming soon. Each module has a different level of difficulty.

Pre-highschool – Grades 4/5 – 7/8 Modules 1 – 5      
Middle school (junior high) – Grades – 8-9 Modules 5 & 6
High school   Grades 10-12 Modules 7-10

If your student already knows how to speak French, it would be good to take the Online Placement test to know which module your student should start in. If you don’t have any prior knowledge of French, Module 1 would be a good place to start in. If you want to find out what is included in each module, you can check out the full curriculum outline of each module. You can also view sample lessons.

To use French Essentials, you would need a reliable internet connection to download the files and access the online excercises and tests area. You would also need to install  the following free software products on your computer: Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash player and Quick Time.

If you want to try out French Essentials first and see if it will work for your family, you can purchase a single module only.  Single module costs $69.95. You have 90 days to download the lessons and workbook exercises. But if you want to buy full access, it costs $149.95 only and you have one year access to all lessons and workbook exercises.



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We have no knowledge of French so we started from Module 1. Upon logging in, I downloaded the different lessons from the module. This module includes 20 lessons which is divided into 5 units. We also installed the needed software applications so that we can listen to the audio files and view the video files.

My daughter started with lesson 1 and immediately, she was introduced to the French Alphabet. She listened to the correct pronounciation. She noticed right away the similarities and differences of the French Alphabet to the English Alphabet. The lesson was presented in a clear and straight forward manner. The visual drawings made the curriculum less intimidating as well.  She studied the lesson 1 in less than 15 minutes. So she immediately went to the 2nd lesson. I could see that she was very much interested and was able to comprehend the first 2 lessons in just one sitting. As the lesson progressed, she just did 1 lesson a day. She reviews her past lesson, then studies her current lesson then she also has to work on the online activities as well.  Overall, it took her about 30 minutes a day to work on her French lessons.  She studies French Essentials 3-4 times a week.

I liked French Essentials because each lesson starts with an objective, some grammar & linguistic explanation, audio and visual teaching, several exercises and a printable worksheet. It is a complete curriculum and isn’t complicated for beginners like us. I also like the way we can review the previous lessons as needed. Knowing what to expect through its curriculum outline and the checklist for parents are a big help to keep track what our children has been learning too.  If  you are looking for French curriculum, I highly recommend this product. My daughter has been learning French on her own and has been teaching me all that she has learned!  French Essentials is a good homeschool tool and is a good fit for our family.

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.


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