There’s no great fanfare over here at Speekee Central but we’re quietly proud of the achievement: 10 years in operation!
I still remember quite vividly the wildly creative brainstorming process in early 2006 – those reams of paper (actually it was an extremely long roll of Spanish paper tablecloth of the type commonly found in bars!) which filled all walls in a very large room, and onto which we penned idea after idea. After that of course we had to narrow it all down until we had a concept we could really work with.
We had already looked at other products on the market – quite few and far between in those days – and had paid particular attention not only to the Spanish content but the way that content was being delivered. We concluded that the content itself jumped too often from easy to difficult and then back again, and felt strongly that it had to be possible to make a Spanish course which would start out very simple and never become too difficult for the learner.
You know, we considered presenting the Spanish in cartoon form. However, one of the brainstorming phrases clearly pointed towards the value real Spanish spoken by real Spanish children, and that idea quickly became very appealing once we learned that children in southern Spain are natural performers in front of a camera (don’t be fooled, the Speekee kids are not professional actors!).
Then there was the idea of a puppet to help teach the children. You can read all about how Speekee herself was made in this blog post.
Initially we were not aware of the Homeschool market, but that soon changed and over the years we have developed extremely comprehensive and well received programs for parents wishing to teach their children Spanish at home. We named these programs FastTrack and Accelerate.
FastTrack came first and was followed by Accelerate, by which time we had made a second series of videos aimed at helping kids in an older age range, around 8-12.
Schoolteachers were always in the forefront of our thinking processes and so we made for them a Scheme of Work which has constantly evolved according to demand, and continues to do so. We listen to teachers’ requirements and implement their suggestions whenever and wherever possible, concentrating always on making their lesson planning as simple and clear as we can. For example, a teacher recently told us she was making her own printable vocabulary sheets for each unit. She suggested these should be available as part of the Speekee Scheme of Work – saving her time of course – and we agreed. Updates such as these are ongoing, just as they should be.
Let us not forget Speekee Play either. It’s an interactive Spanish learning platform where children can communicate and play together, safely and securely, using all the Spanish language presented in the Speekee videos. We look forward to refining this concept as time passes.
Through watching other providers of Spanish learning products for children via Facebook, I have noticed that some have come and gone. It’s not easy to create a business – any business – let alone make it work over a period of time. You need to listen to your customers of course. You need to modify the nature of your product according to those customer demands. You need to be smart.
You also need a little luck along the way!
How long have you been a Speekee user? Have you noticed how the product has evolved over the years? It’s always great to hear from you!
Jim Porter is a co-founder of Speekee®, the most comprehensive Spanish for kids learning program ever to appear online. Jim’s work includes this homeschool Spanish curriculum and this homeschool Spanish curriculum (not a misprint – he wrote two!) and this Primary School Spanish curriculum.
Jim began his Spanish learning journey in 1990. He has been a language teacher since 1994 and he lives in sunny southern Spain with his two bilingual children. Loves it! More…