Primary school age is ideal. Younger children can also learn well though they may have difficulty with the reading activities. For older children, the lesson content will still be valid for them, especially if they are beginner learners.
Animated characters are entertaining. However, their verbal and non-verbal communication is not a good language learning model for children. We prefer to use live presenters who model natural human communication enabling children to better understand, and use normal voice inflection.
It is possible that your child worked through the lessons too quickly. Children should study each lesson and all the exercises at least 3 times before they continue to the next lesson.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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 primary school 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. Although some Reading is taught in 'Sam and Mel', it is mainly there to support Speaking.
As an ESL teacher, I've seen different reactions of learners to videos.