South Charlotte

Kids can learn practical Spanish in new program

Elementary-age children can now learn Spanish outside school through a new program offered through Parks and Recreation in Matthews and Huntersville.

David Rengifo, Rafael Bastidas and Ernesto Hurtado of Venezuela are co-founders of America Learns Spanish, an after-school program that incorporates real-life situations, such as ordering food in a restaurant.

“When people get taught just vocabulary words, they don't remember them so well,” Rengifo said. “But with a context, it will stick.”

The program starts in September; classes are scheduled twice weekly for 15 weeks during fall and spring semesters. Cost is $232 for fall semester, $240 for spring semester.

Huntersville Parks and Recreation center supervisor Sierra Davis says the town has never offered a foreign language program, mainly because no business has ever suggested one. She said she expects the Spanish classes will succeed.

Considering the area's growing Hispanic population, “kids almost need to know a second language these days,” she says.

Says Colten Marble, Matthews' cultural recreation specialist, “In today's times, it's nothing but beneficial to be able to speak Spanish.”

Marble said Matthews has offered Spanish for adults, but not children.

“We're happy to have this for children because they can pick up the Spanish language early,” he said.

Participants will be grouped by age and proficiency. Teachers will be native speakers. Rengifo said the idea is that students will come back each semester, building their vocabulary.

Children from kindergarten through fifth grades are eligible. “Their minds are like sponges,” Rengifo said. “It's easier for them to embrace new sounds that they don't hear in English.”

To register your child for classes, visit www.america