Thanks to Stephanie Meade of InCultureParent.com for this guest post.
As someone raising trilingual kids in Arabic and Spanish, I am always on the lookout for immersion after-school options. A weekly language class is great for exposure to a language and the basics, but it's not enough to make kids become speakers of another language. Immersion is really where it's at.
One of the many benefits of raising kids in the Bay Area is the diversity of cultures and languages all around us everyday. My daughter came home singing in a language I couldn't readily identify last year, and after some fact finding, I discovered her friends at school had taught her a Korean song, which she proceeded to teach to her little sister. Diversity and experiences likes these are my favorite things about our Berkeley public school.
Despite all the languages surrounding my children on a daily basis, the East Bay is very limited for after school language programs. There are some but we need a lot more. If watching Berkeley's Spanish immersion public schools tells me anything, it's that demand is high and supply is low.
Below is a list of the existing after school language programs (beyond just one hour per week) that I am aware of in the Berkeley-Oakland (and one in Alameda) area. Please add more in the comments!
World Kids Academy in Oakland: Classes from 3-5 days per week from 3-6 p.m.
Ecole Bilingue: Mon and Weds 4:00-5:30
Berkeley Language School: Classes two days per week, different times
Some of the public schools in Berkeley, Albany and Oakland also offer both before school or after school language classes and after school language immersion programs. Albany has an after school immersion program in Mandarin, for example. I wish all public schools offered options like these as our kids could benefit immensely from them. Go Albany!
Did I leave something out? Please let us know in the comments. I am always grateful and excited to discover more language options in the East Bay, especially in Spanish and Arabic.