Nov 242010

“Time for Spanish playtime, kids!” That is what can be heard as Lourdes’ new Spanish teacher steps through the door. The children, in preschool and prekindergarten, take their spots on the rug.

Researchers believe that the earlier a child is exposed to a foreign language, the better the child will acquire and retain it. The word “playtime” is used because that is exactly what the Spanish sessions are. The children have such fun playing, they don’t even realize they are learning. What they’re really doing is acquiring language through songs, drama, stories, games and art.

After having taught high school foreign language for four years, Andrea Miles came to believe that there was a better way to help students become multilingual. It wasn’t until she studied a year in Mexico that it became clear to her: students need to be completely enveloped in the language. Not only is Lourdes teaching students how to communicate with others, but the school is cultivating an interest and respect for others during these lessons.

Miles has introduced a new curriculum designed for young children. It is called “Sonrisas,” meaning “smiles.” Just by listening and interacting with the curriculum, the children are receiving knowledge of the language. When they are ready, they start speaking it. There are no tests or corrections unless an error affects what the child is trying to convey. This truly is pleasurable learning at its finest.

After Spanish “playtime” is over, the halls are buzzing with preschool and pre-kindergarten students shouting their new favorite Spanish words to their friends and family. As anyone who has witnessed the enthusiasm will tell you, Lourdes’ new Spanish instruction is wonderful for all who are involved. It provides a great foundation for Spanish-language education that  continues from kindergarten to eighth grade.

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