Top Foreign Language Programs for Kids in NYC

Languages 1Happy 2014 to all our MommyBites readers! Our series of top NYC spots and programs for children continues this year. We know that many of you are still looking for cozy, indoor activities for your children. This month, we decided to write about our favorite bilingual programs in the city that never sleeps. What better way to promote language development than to expose your child to another language?

In fact, research shows that learning more than one language leads to a more well-rounded and creative individual, increased cognitive development, and more opportunities in the workforce as adults. As you may know, learning a new language as an adult can be quite difficult since the neural pathways of our brain are already hard-wired, so the earlier you start as a child, the better! And, of course, learning a second language (or even a third or fourth!) can be quite the accomplishment!

Here goes our list…

Bilingual Birdies – This amazing program teaches languages such as Spanish, French, Mandarin, and Hebrew through engaging live music, dance, puppets, and games. Every class has a theme and children learn new vocabulary via their Six Step Plan. It allows children to express themselves through movement and view the world from another perspective.  Not only are the brains of children being stimulated auditorily, but the way in which the classes are run promotes the ultimate level of socialization, which we of course as speech pathologists love!

Carousel of Languages – Imagine a program that uses children’s verbal, visual, and tactile senses to learn a new language. They also offer full immersion classes and have developed their own materials. Overall, the class sizes are small and the classes are super fun! It is a great way to help promote understanding of other cultures. They also have some awesome alphabet apps in Italian, Mandarin, French, Spanish, Russian, Hebrew, and English!

Languages 2Baby Fingers – The American Sign Language (ASL) classes are run by a fantastic instructor by the name of Lora Heller. She is a music therapist and an early childhood deaf educator. As speech pathologists, we often use signs and gestures during our therapy to encourage production of verbal words and we find that signing usually reduces a child’s frustration. ASL allows them to request and communicate via another language…it gives them another outlet!

Other researched benefits include increased IQ, improved motor coordination, and advanced spatial skills. She teaches ASL via familiar books, songs, games, and dramatic play. Aside from signing, Lora also provides amazing infant massage classes that not only promotes a strong bond with your child, but also enhances your baby’s growth and development.

La Petite Ecole – We say “Oui Oui!” to this program! Contemporary artists from around the world visit this preschool to teach your kids. The school day is completely in French and instruction is adapted to each student. They believe, like many other programs, that the earlier the child is exposed to a language the better! Children take part in yummy global cooking activities using the freshest of ingredients and even create 2-dimensional art using a giant 8-foot paint palette. They also take advantage of NYC’s amazing art museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim, etc.

ABC Languages – This language school has native speakers of many languages – from Urdu to Portuguese to Swahili – teach group lessons. They can be customized to meet your children’s needs and fit whichever frequency or location you prefer (even in your home!).  They also provide private one-on-one sessions for children as well as tutoring.

BonjourNY –  They are known for their interactive after-school program supervised by their summer day camp staff. The program allows children to be exposed to Francophone cultures and teaches children to learn languages through discovery. They target learning in fun ways such as charades, Simon Says, and Twenty Questions! The program also works closely with the New York City Department of Education to support bilingualism. They even have a delicious French cooking club at MS51 in Brooklyn… children can bake or cook something and take it home for their whole family to enjoy!  Bon appetit!

The Language Workshop for Children (LWFC) – They just recently celebrated their 40th year in business! The teachers are trained in Thibault techniques and concentrate on 4 languages – Italian, Spanish, French, and Chinese. Classes are run as structured playgroups that employ a whole language approach – including songs that focus on grammar, visual aids for vocabulary, and games that target emotions. The songs used are original and were created with professional composers. After every session, children are given a new CD with a workbook so that they can carry over what they learned at home!

Collina Italiana – Ciao!!  If you prefer that your child learns Italian – this is the class for you! Knowing Italian in general may increase the chance of knowing the meaning of an English word. The root words are also very closely related to Latin, which later on leads to higher SAT scores since your child develops a solid foundation. Their classes employ a multi-sensory approach that includes film, music, play, story time, etc. They also provide children with various art activities to reinforce what is learned. Class sizes are kept small in order to tailor it to each student’s needs. They even provide homework help and the opportunity for your children to act in Teatro Italiano!

Languages 3Hola Playgroup – Interested in a Spanish only class? This program is ideal for children from 1 to 8 years of age. They employ a very naturalistic method of learning via hands-on exploration and encourage consistency. They believe that with repetition any child can become bilingual even if their parents are monolingual. It also exposes children to Latin cultures all over the world.  Knowing another language not only gives your child increased confidence, but allows them to appreciate the diversity in such a great city as NYC! After all, the Latino population is the largest and fastest growing population in the United States.

Brooklyn Beanstalk – We did not forget about Brooklynites! Brooklyn Beanstalk has rave reviews. It is an arts-driven educational organization offering specialized Spanish and French language immersion classes and creative enrichment programs through arts and performances, to children aged 16 months throughout elementary grades. Stephanie Larriere and Sophie Amieva are the co-founders – they also have an impressive background in education and the arts. Your child can receive private lessons through Brooklyn Beanstalk or you can register to take classes at their many affiliates: International School of Brooklyn, Montessori Day School of Brooklyn, Trilok Preschool, Abundance of God Daycare, Olive Tree House Group, PS11, Union Temple Preschool, Language and Laughter Studio, Science, Language and Art International School, Art & Letters, and PS 133.

And again Happy New Year’s everyone – and this time in many languages 🙂  Bonne annee!  Shana Tova!  Buon Anno Nuovo!  Feliz Ano Nuevo!  Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!  Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!  Xin Nian Yu Kuai!  Kul’am Wa Antum Bikhair!  Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun 🙂

Thanks to Wikimedia and ETA for photographs.
Languages bioGift of Gab Resources 1-855-SPEAK-HELP are:
Debbie Shiwbalak, M.A., CCC-SLP [email protected]
Alpin Gundem, M.A., CCC-SLP [email protected]

Alpin Rezvani, M.A., CCC-SLP, graduated from New York University with a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology.  She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association (ASHA) and has New York licensure in Speech-Language Pathology.  She is a speech-language pathologist for the New York Department of Education and was an adjunct instructor at New York University.  She co-authored two chapters (Community-Based Speech-Language Pathology and Joint Action Routines) in “Cutting-Edge Therapies for Autism”, and is PROMPT trained.  She is also the co-founder of Gift of Gab Resources and has been in private practice since 2008.

Debbie Shiwbalak, M.A., CCC-SLP, is an undergraduate of St. John’s University where she received her Baccalaureate of Arts in Speech Pathology in 1999, and is a graduate of Long Island University-CW Post Campus, where she received a Master of Arts in Speech Pathology in 2001. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and is licensed by the state of New York to practice speech-language pathology. Debbie is PROMPT trained and has had 13 years experience as a speech pathologist in the New York City area and has been in private practice for 7 years. She is also the co-founder of Gift of Gab Resources.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.

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