Youth language learning in Chicago: Language Stars opens its 15th local center this week

My husband and I are always quick to say we wish we could speak more than one language. While both of us took a language early on in school, we never progressed past a basic understanding of Spanish for him and French for me. From the first time we spoke about our hopes and dreams for our children, as all new parents do, we agreed that we wanted them to at least be bilingual and to also be able to feel at home in the world - no matter where their studying, travels and life took them. And, then we had our first son. As new, first-time parents, we couldn't wait to sign him up for parent-baby classes. That's why we were thrilled to learn we could enroll him in a Spanish language class at Language Stars as soon as he turned one years old. And that we did.

Our older son is now eight years old. Since we first signed him up for his very first class, he has taken Spanish and French classes at three different Language Stars locations (in the city and suburbs), with his younger brother getting in on the action as soon as he was old enough. In each class, at each location, we were impressed with the passion and personalities of their native-speaking teachers. Each one made it fun to learn basic words and phrases through play - and helped to infuse an early appreciation of their respective cultures, too.

Today, our sons are enrolled in a French international school where they spend most of their days learning and conversing in French. As they become more proficient and feel more confident in speaking a second language, I continue to be grateful for our early decision to sign them up for a foreign language class - even when they were still learning to speak their native language. It's also why I'm glad that Language Stars continues to open new locations throughout the city and suburbs, bringing its language-immersion classes to children (ages 1 to 12) throughout the Chicago area. And, I'm happy to virtually toast them in the opening their fifteenth Chicago-area location in the city's Andersonville neighborhood.

A weeklong celebration of language - and a new location

Language Stars is celebrating the grand opening of its new Andersonville location (4846 N. Clark St., Unit 100) with a weeklong series of events jam-packed with story time, art projects, games, a raffle and more.

It all culminates with a grand opening party on Thursday, January 23 at 5:45 pm. The family-friendly event will feature entertainment by Little Miss Ann, food, drinks and activities for the kids, plus raffle prizes and goodie bags. There is a suggested $5 donation for admission to the event, with the funds benefiting Barrel of Monkeys, a local organization that teaches creative writing workshops to Chicago Public School students.

If you've ever been interested in checking out a Language Stars class - in Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, German and/or Italian - for your children in the city, this is the perfect time to do it.

Open your children's global horizons - and try to keep up

I was lucky to be able to participate in many parent-baby and then parent-tot Spanish and French classes when my sons were young. In a lot of ways, we learned the languages together while singing songs, having snacks, doing art projects and playing games at Language Stars.

As my children move on in their foreign language learning efforts, I'm glad they got their very early start at Language Stars. And, now it's up to me to build my own language skills. With it being January, I guess it's a good time as any to resolve to continue on  with my own language studies - and try to keep up with my kids.

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