I have some vivid memories of back in 2nd Grade at Port Colden Elementary in Washington, New Jersey. I remember sitting in bed at night with my Mom, who was an English teacher before having my brother and me. After our showers and before going to sleep, she would try to help me understand past participles and the object of the preposition. She diligently tried to help me grasp different grammatical concepts we were learning about in class. I was able to speak and write well, but I wasn’t really able to fully deconstruct sentences and label the parts. It didn’t click for me.

Fast forward to my junior year at Westlake High School here in Austin–a full 8 years later. I sat in my Spanish III Honors class with Professora Withrow. At that point, we were all solid on conjugating verbs and different parts of speech and were beginning to integrate that knowledge into writing our papers on Spanish artists and their work, completely in Spanish. Many of us were going to Sevilla, Spain that summer for an immersion trip, and learning about the artists and their famous works prior to actually seeing them in museums on our trip was a pretty neat concept.

As I sat in Prof. W’s class taking in some of the same lessons my Mom tried to help my grasp in 2nd grade (and really in 3rd, 4th, 5th and all of the grades in between elementary and my junior year!), something clicked for me. It wasn’t the repetition or maturity–at least not fully. It was that I had context. I had to be able to relate the Spanish to the English and something in that connective process allowed me to grasp so many of the grammatical concepts I wasn’t able to prior to age 15.

Interestingly enough, although I took AP English, I didn’t take the AP exam because I didn’t feel like I would do well enough to warrant taking it. I did take the Spanish AP exams though. With my study abroad credits and the AP exam credits, I had earned enough credits for a minor in Spanish before ever taking a Spanish class at UT Austin. But, even having taken AP English, I started with the most basic English courses at UT–and I ended up graduating as an English major, so I guess it was a full circle for me.

When we started Lupine Lane in 2008, we began with an emphasis on bringing different cultures into the classroom through diverse, hands-on experiences in different aspects of each of the cultures–art, music, food and language. Two years later, as we embarked on the foundational aspects of our curriculum for our school, we felt that these elements were crucial to intertwine. We wanted to show the kids the world through these experiences. In turn, we hoped this would pique their curiosity for learning and experiencing more in this vast and wonderful world.

As we learned and experienced more, we felt that integrating a language program would really benefit the kids. I often wondered if I had been a dual language learner or at least had more significant exposure to another language earlier in life if I would have had an easier time in my English and Language Arts classes. There’s no telling for sure, however, there is significant data that illustrates the tremendous benefits of learning more than one language from an early age.

morningsideplaycare.com

In addition to our Spanish and Mandarin programs at our school, we also offer after school classes and summer camps that provide kids with a full immersion experience. This summer, July 15-19, Mrs. Ofe Jauregui will be introducing language and culture through music, art, food and much more. Ms. Ofe is a native Spanish speaker and eager to share her love of language and culture to the kids through providing and fully immersive, hands-on experience. Learn more and enroll here:

Mis Sueños: Spanish Language and Culture Camp

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