If there’s one thing that Dora has taught us grown-ups, it’s that kids lovelovelove a foreign language adventure. Lucky for our little linguists, D.C. is chock full of classes that will teach them to be bilingual, while also appreciating other cultures. Help your chatterbox embrace his gift of gab with one of these cool kid-friendly foreign language courses.
Arabic at Language Stars
Language Stars pulls out all of the props to help kids learn a new language—we’re talking puppets, posters, microphones, and musical instruments. Explore Arabic with a free trial class at the Alexandria, Va or McLean, Va outposts (FYI, there are seven locations across the DC-metro area, but only these two currently offer Arabic). Music, games, and a snack time of Goldfish and Cheerios are incorporated into each lesson. Language Stars prides itself in not only teaching kiddos to speak a foreign language, but to ace the accent as well.
Cost: $165/month (meet once a week)
Other Languages? Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, Italian
318 Montgomery St. (Alexandria, Va)
6224-C Old Dominion Dr. (McLean, Va)
French at Communikids
The French teachers at this language school are native speakers from all over the globe (think: Democratic Republic of Congo and Morocco), and keep their pupils focused with tons of free play and role play. It’s not unusual to pop in and find kiddo “baking” a cake or “climbing” a mountain or “raising” farm animals in French! And if you have a hunch that you have a mini-francophile on your hands, consider enrolling him into CommuniKids’ full/half day preschool program for extra exposure.
Ages: 18 months-8
Cost: $238-$256/session (7 classes per session)
Other Languages? Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic
510 North Washington St., Ste. 400 (Falls Church, Va)
Chinese at Language Planet DC
Mandarin Chinese is one of the most popular foreign language classes at this school (and at others in the D.C. area), attracting kids whose parents recognize that the language is a growing force on the world stage. At Language Planet little ones are fully immersed in Chinese by talking about the everyday things they do—bath time, nap time, snack time. Bonus: Kids 6 and older can sign up for a webcam class if they have travel plans or anticipate missing an in-person session.
Ages: 6 months-6
Cost: $240/session (8 classes per session)
Other Languages? Spanish and French
4825 Bethesda Ave. (Bethesda, Md)
Sign Language at Baby Signs by Dana
Can’t tell what she’s pointing at? Give your non-talking tot a “voice” of her own so she can tell you definitively, “more banana, please.” At Baby Signs, little ones learn some of the most useful signs with the help of BeeBo (a super-cool signing bear). Don’t worry if he signs “mama” before he says it—studies show that babies who sign actually develop speech sooner and have larger vocabularies when they do start talking.
Ages: 6 months-2
Cost: $132/six weeks (class meets once a week)
Other Languages? No
Spanish at Hola Baby
Music is a universal language, which is why this Spanish-focused program uses a lot of it. The parent-and-tot format makes it easy for moms and dads to learn fun ways to boost learning at home. The teachers get help from a language class mascot named Coquí (a friendly frog), who visits with each playgroup to help reinforce the week’s theme. Can’t commit to an eight week session? Hola Baby also offers a shortened mini summer camp!
Ages: 10 months-5
Cost: $155-$170/session (class meets once a week for 8 weeks)
Other Languages? No
700 Commonwealth Ave. (Alexandria, Va)
Mount Olivet UMC
1500 N. Quebec St. (Arlington, Va)
Do you have a bilingual bebé? Tell us about their language adventure in the comments section below.
Photo courtesy of Language Stars