You don't need to speak Spanish for a trip to The Spanish Corner, but don't expect to hear much English.
The Spanish Corner is a new total immersion program for kids and their caregivers in the Triangle. Here Kelly Parker and Kate Kiec, long-time Spanish instructors and local moms, run the 45-minute class with songs and conversations, all in Spanish.
But it's hard not to understand what they're talking about - even if you don't speak a word of Spanish. The two sing and repeat and use various props to help the non-Spanish speakers follow along and actually learn the language at the same time.
Parker and Kiec have been friends and colleagues for more than a decade. The two completed the same master's degree in teaching Spanish at UNC-Chapel Hill. They taught Spanish together at Cary High School. Kiec was there from 2001 to 2005. Parker was there from 2002 to 2008.
Parker, a mom of two young boys, and Kiec, mom of a four-year-old girl, also work as Spanish tutors. And Kiec is an associate professor of Spanish at Wake Tech.
Both Parker and Kiec (pronounced Kish) teach their own kids Spanish. Bath times and other routines are conducted in Spanish at Kiec's house. Parker said some of her friends were asking her if she could teach their kids the language. While their work had mostly been with teens and adults, Parker and Kiec, whose graduate program including a stint working with young children, started talking about launching a program for kids and caregivers.
"We have the skills," Kiec said. "We knew we could do it."
"It was exciting as a stay-at-home mom to do something outside the home that was manageable," Parker said.
The two got to work putting together a curriculum and writing songs and rhymes that all are part of their classes. They've created supplements and fun online videos of those songs for families to reinforce what they learned in class and continue the learning at home. They started teaching classes in June.
Parents are part of the program so they can learn along with their kids, if they don't speak Spanish already, and can weave those songs and lessons into daily life to boost retention of the language.
"It is fun and games, but it is something we want them to take home and practice," said Kiec.
The two complement each other. Parker is high-energy with lots of ideas. Kiec is calm and logical and pays attention to detail.
"We work really well together," Parker said.
I took my four-year-old to a class a couple of weeks ago and we both had a blast. Parker and Kiec switch off leading the class. We sang about animals and colors and our names. My four-year-old came away singing several of the very catchy songs.
The Spanish Corner currently offers classes at Sweet Bottoms Baby Boutique on Jones Franklin Road in Cary. The fall schedule is designed for ages 3 and up. The two have plans to expand their program and offerings as they move forward. They promised to keep me posted!
Check The Spanish Corner's Facebook page for more information.
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