When I am out and about with my boys, I frequently hear parents chatting with one another about great classes and other activities they participate in, hoping to give their child an advantage in the complex and ever changing world. Since language plays such an important part in our day to day lives, Lourdes Hubard and Fernando Alessandrini opened the successful Totus Lingua program to teach foreign languages to even the littlest of learners.
Totus Lingua is a licensee of the New York based Language Workshop for Children, an internationally recognized language program inspired by the findings of Francois Thibaut. Thibaut’s 40 years of successful experience has yielded The Thibaut Technique, which engages both sides of the brain to connect logical and creative domains so that the new language is fully absorbed and comprehended.
The Totus Lingua program understands that first children hear, understand, and then speak so the teachers utilize an immersion technique so that children learn naturally, not through translation. Using play based instruction, even the most reluctant of learners are engaged by the language-rich program.
With class enrollment, your child is provided with language-rich activities to expand upon what is taught in each weekly session. For the Tots class, there is a vocabulary workbook/CD set and older students receive a storybook to practice what they are learning at home.
Since consistency is key, there is a new and exclusive Language Workshop for Children book given to students every ten weeks. No matter what class your child attends (for example, Chinese Mandarin for Tots) the same topic will be the main focus of the lesson, although teachers have some creative flexibility in choosing traditional toys to support the topic.
What to Expect
Totus Lingua employs only native speakers who are children oriented, trained in the Thibaut Technique, and are warm and welcoming to families. My three year old son was a little hesitant upon taking our first Spanish class since he had never really had any experience with the language, but the energetic and nurturing teacher grasped his attention right from the start.
Right from the get go, Miss Fatima integrated upbeat music and corresponding movements to have students up and learning. Since parent participation was still key during the tot level class we attended, the teacher did a great job modeling for us what to do and how to encourage our children with the tasks at hand.
As a former teacher and school administrator I can be rather particular about language instruction, but I was impressed with the balance between structure and fun to introduce the young learners to key vocabulary, such as animals, colors, food names, body parts, and numbers. Miss Fatima utilized toys that all of the children were already familiar with as a way to introduce new vocabulary, also making new students like my son feel more relaxed and less anxious about his new surroundings.
Each activity was short so that the students were engaged and interested in the new concepts the teacher was sharing with them, with about seven major activities planned during the hour long class. The hands on manipulatives were a hit with the class, especially the colored scarves, play food, and my personal favorite—the Miss Potato Head. By the time the final song was played, all of the children were following the teacher’s movements with smiling faces.
What makes Totus Lingua unique
The name Totus Lingua means “Whole Language,” and it reflects Lourdes and Fernando’s dedication to creating a play based language immersion experience for all children. With accessible tuition rates, their program introduces your children to award winning vocabulary building songs, time tested visual aids, and innovative instructional methods. You can find parent accolades on their website.
Where to find Totus Lingua
Totus Lingua offers language services to schools such as St. Mary of the Angels School in Bucktown, The Bennett Day School in Chicago, day cares, and also holds classes at popular play spaces such as The Sod Room and Purple Monkey Playroom.
You can check their class options for children ages 6 months to 9 years here.
Disclaimer: I received free admission to Totus Lingua. All of the opinions and descriptions of our experience are my own and not affected by Totus Lingua.
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