How do I know that my credit card details are safe?
At 'Sam and Mel' we have no access to members' credit card details. Payment is done through Paypal, one of the most reputable and secure payment gateways in the world. You have the choice to pay as a Paypal member or using your credit card. Both ways are completely secure.
My child has been learning English at school for 2 years. Can't she skip to later lessons?
If your child has some knowledge of English, they may be able to move through the early lessons faster. However, in order to reinforce a strong foundation of grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary, it is best that the child starts from Lesson 1.
What is the best age for my child to start learning with 'Sam and Mel'?
The best age is 4-8 years old. We have had good results with children in their last year of kindergarten although some find the Reading activities too challenging. For children beyond the age of 8, the lesson content may still be valid for them, especially if they have had no prior English lessons, or if English lessons were taught by a non-native English speaker.
Why do you want learners to move their hands when they learn new words?
Doing the gestures engages two learning methods: Firstly, visual learning when the child watches the presenter speak and move their hands; secondly kinesthetic learning which means that moving the hands helps children remember the word when linking it to a gesture. Some children are predominantly visual learners and will learn the words just by watching the gestures. Others are predominantly kinesthetic learners who will have difficulty memorizing the words unless they do the gestures.
Why are all the lessons videos?
Video is by definition audio-visual, it engages hearing and seeing. These are the 2 most powerful senses for learning. As we are unable to put a native English speaking teacher in every home and classroom, we attempt to do the next best thing with video.
Our lessons concentrate on the oral skills of Listening and Speaking which in child development occur naturally. Reading and Writing are skills that do not develop naturally, they must be taught. Therefore it is normal for children to master Listening and Speaking first. Although some Reading is taught in 'Sam and Mel', it is mainly with the goal of making the children speak out loud when they read.
Why don't you have animated characters in your lessons?
We do not use animated characters in our lessons because they do not show human facial expression and movement of the mouth. These non-verbal features are essential to effective communication and learning correct pronunciation. Furthermore, animated characters usually have electronically altered voices that are not natural.
How do I know that my child has learnt the lesson if there is no test?
This is easy. Invite them to do the lesson in your presence. Watch and listen to them. If they know all the words, can say the sentences and can sing the song, then they are ready to proceed to the next lesson. Their performance does not have to be perfect. Praise them for what they know rather than correcting their errors. If you feel that they do not know the material well enough yet, ask them to spend some more time working on it.
Why don't you set tests at the end of each lesson?
Tests send a message to the child that once they have passed the test, they can forget what they had studied before the test. It is not possible to learn a language in this way.
Learning a language is like building a tall tower. Firstly, a firm foundation must be established. Then each floor must stay solidly in place in order for the next floor to be built on top. Our lessons are designed to give children a solid foundation in English that they will always remember. (See our blog on Tests for further information).
My child has finished the first 10 lessons but does not seem to remember very much. Why is that?
It is possible that your child worked through the lessons too quickly. We recommend that children study each lesson for 10-15 minutes a day for at least a week.
Why don't you provide translations for the 10 vocabulary words in each lesson?
We are wary about the usefulness of using word for word translation in language learning, especially for words that sometimes have several meanings. Furthermore, it is sometimes difficult to provide suitable translations for individual words. However, we have used PDF translations to facilitate comprehension of the conversation scenes.
Why don't you show the English text within the dialogue translations you provide?
On the one hand, we recognize that a person's native language can help in learning a new language. Indeed, we have translated the dialogues into several languages so that parents and teachers can help children understand the conversation scenes of each lesson. On the other hand, comparing two languages is not a natural method of learning a new language. We prefer that children learn the English language directly, without needing to use their native language as a medium.
Why haven't you provided dialogue translations for my language?
We have provided translations for several Asian and European languages. Unfortunately, we have not yet translated the dialogues into every language. However, if we see that a particular language group is using our lessons in sufficient numbers, we will endeavor to provide translations for those people in the future. In the meantime, we suggest that you download the English text and use Google Translate to understand the overall meaning of the dialogues.
Why do you use American spelling for words like 'color' and 'favorite' (Lesson 7)?
We chose the American spelling of those words for simplicity. The American spelling of those words is one letter shorter. Otherwise, we have no particular preference between American and British spelling. We are placing a greater emphasis on oral English, rather than written English.
Why don't you teach the phonic method of reading?
Teaching Reading by the Phonic method is outside of the scope of what we seek to achieve with Sam and Mel. Our primary goal is not to teach Reading but to teach Speaking. The parts of the lesson that contain writing are designed so that children will have another opportunity to speak by reading or singing aloud.
Some features of the Website are not working…
The ‘Sam and Mel’ website uses modern functionality that unfortunately is not supported by some older Internet browsers (like some older versions of ‘Internet Explorer’). If you are experiencing problems with an older browser the good news is that you can download the latest version of Firefox or Google Chrome for free. If you are still experiencing problems after updating your browser to the latest version please do let us know so that we can investigate further.
The videos are not playing at all…
If the videos are not playing at all check that your Internet browser is up to date. You can download the latest versions of Firefox or Google Chrome for free. If you are still unable to view the videos please let us know so that we can investigate further.
The videos do not play smoothly…
This is likely due to slow Internet speed. If upgrading your Internet speed isn’t possible then we recommend trying one or both of the following.
- Click the ‘HD’ button at the bottom right of the video play bar. This will turn HD viewing off and should provide a lower resolution but faster loading viewing experience.
- After clicking the play button to start a video, click pause to allow the video some time to load before clicking play again and watching.