Nothing sounds as sweet to a 21st-century parent’s ears than a child saying “I want a pony” in more than one language. Whether beginning with “bonjour,” “hola” or “ni hao,” explore our five top places for children’s foreign language classes. Then go out and get that passport stamped.
This cheerful spot grows future world travelers with an array of language classes. Currently located in Logan Square/Avondale, it’s moving to West Bucktown in June. Choose from Spanish, French, Italian, Hebrew, Mandarin and more. From the mix, we recommend this tasty standout: A Spanish culture food and language immersion summer camp. While little ones learn, parents can relax at the onsite Language Café with complimentary organic coffee, tea and Wi-Fi.
Insider tip: On select school holidays, you can drop your child off starting at 8:30 am for a day of games and language fun. Pickup can be as late as 4:30 pm. Check the website for an upcoming announcement of 2013-2014 school year dates.
2934 N. Milwaukee Ave., Suite C
From Lincoln Park to Barrington, Language Stars’ 15 locations (7 centers and 8 satellites) are conveniently located. A play-based curriculum keeps kids interested in their language, whether Spanish, French, German, Italian or Mandarin. Lessons have themes ranging from robots to dinosaurs to camping. All together now: Let’s say, “Do you have a flashlight in your backpack?” in Mandarin.
Insider tip: Try Foreign Language Blasts, one-time classes that will have your kids taking off for a Dora/Diego scavenger hunt or a Disney princess tea party.
1741 N. Elston Ave.
Additional locations across the city and suburbs
The Cervantes Kids class prepares kids ages 5 and up for their first trip to Barcelona. The engaging, interactive Spanish language program is led by native speakers and is offered in schools (including several CPS locations) and via after-school classes at the Instituto. Summer immersion campers learn Spanish through music, acting and crafts.
Insider tip: Every Saturday, from 10:30 am–11:30 am, there’s a storytelling and music session in Spanish for tots ages 2-4.
31 W. Ohio St.
With more than a billion speakers, Mandarin fluency isn’t bad to put on the resume. Start your child’s education early; China Friends has classes aimed at students 18 months and older in its bright, colorful and inspiring center. The non-profit started as a program for adults who wanted to learn the language before voyaging abroad to pick up adopted babies. Soon, kids were being enrolled, too.
Insider tip: Lessons via Skype will help make Mandarin study squeeze neatly between soccer practice and violin lessons.
800 W. Buena Ave.
That Tintin — he sure is cute. Mon dieu, your child can speak the same native tongue and set off on adventures of his own at this downtown charmer. Along with learning ABCs and how to count to dix at regular classes, kids engage with French culture through cooking and storytelling at Chez Kids Academy summer camp (for ages 1 and up).
Insider tip: On Saturday afternoons once a month, experience a little slice of Paris with family films (French with English subtitles) or storytelling.
810 N. Dearborn St.
Do your kids speak more than one language? Let us know in the Comments section below.
— Kelly Haramis