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Kids can try learning Spanish this summer

By: Eileen Wilson, Folsom Lake Entertainer
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Bienvenidos a bordo, or welcome aboard. Blanca Lawton will welcome kids to a new week of summer camp ? Los Piratas! Or Pirates Week, on July 9, and kids can?t wait. Lawton started her Spanish Immersion program eight years ago in response to her own kids? need to further their Spanish skills. ?I created the whole program for the need of my own children,? she said. ?I knew there was no other place for my kids to experience a fun language program.? After friends and neighbors encouraged her to teach a program, as well, she got started, creating a curriculum that is music and movement based, and most important, it?s fun. With locations in both Folsom and Sacramento, the Mexico City native knows how hard it is to learn a language as an adult. ?I?m a good example of not knowing a language and having to learn it as an adult. I really know the struggle of learning a language as an older person. That?s why I put so much love in to the classes I teach,? Lawton said. ?And, I get to be a kid again when I?m teaching the kids.? While Lawton learned English basics in school, she said that if you don?t use a language conversationally, you will never really get it. ?I thought, if I was to learn a second language as a child, I would want to learn it with songs and games ? kids learn it easily if it is done in a fun way,? she said. Many area parents agree. ?Not only do I want for my children to be able to communicate with their grandmother, (who primarily speaks Spanish), but I also understand that being bilingual is a vital tool for their future,? said Estella Juarez-Pisi, who has four-year-old and seven-year-old children in the program.  ?I am a registered nurse, and I use Spanish at work almost daily.   I searched all over for a program where children would only receive instruction in Spanish.  In my research, I found that preschool programs only offered small blocks of instruction in Spanish.  I could not find a true immersion program.  That was until I came across Blanca?s school.  Her program was exactly what I was searching for.? An added bonus, according to Juarez-Pisi, is that her children are interested in Spanish culture, as well. Lawton teaches kids ages two and a half and up, both pre-school, and after-school programs, which included more advanced, conversational Spanish. The summer camps are geared toward kids ages three to 11. Kids are grouped according to their skills, and the three-hour class consists of eight to 10 children and one teacher. Los Piratas will begin with lessons on pirate clothing and sea animals, and kids will read Spanish and role play. Kids also create ships and other props. ?We bring all the imagination so children can experience the full immersion of the language, including music and lots of movement,? Lawton said. ?It?s very active, and they do everything using Spanish. After one week they learn vocabulary, and they lay the foundation for learning the second language.? Lawton knows how important it is for kids to learn a second language. ?The benefit of having two languages at an early age is it helps kids with cognitive learning. It makes us smarter, really. Kids do better on tests, and have better cognition ? and it doesn?t matter what the two languages are,? Lawton said. ?It helps kids reach their greatest potential.? Though the Spanish Immersion summer program is short, after one week, Lawton said kids will know all the sounds of letters, they will be able to count to 100, know their colors, and be able to express what they like and don?t like in Spanish. ?They will be speaking in complete phrases, and it really increases their confidence,? Lawton said. For more information, visit thespanishimmersion.com. * * * Spanish Immersion Program Where: 1289 Loren Court, Folsom and 1500 Dom Way, Room 17, Sacramento Time: 9 a.m. to noon, one-week sessions, July 9 ? 12 Los Piratas! (Pirates Week), July 16 ? 19 Dinosaurs, July 25 ? 29 Astronauts, July 30 ? Aug. 2 Vamos a la Feria! (Let?s go to the Fair) Cost: $120 per week Information: thespanishimmersion.com