Hao Nguyen's children have grown up speaking Vietnamese and Spanish at home.
But as her daughter entered preschool, Nguyen noticed that she was using English more and the other languages less. Nguyen, who also grew up speaking Vietnamese and studied Spanish in college, wondered why she lost interest in using the other languages.
She considered her daughter's life in an English-dominant world that included playdates with English-speaking friends and other activities.
"Anything fun we do is always in English," said Nguyen, a mom of two in Durham and teacher. "She quickly learned that she didn't need Vietnamese or Spanish."
Nguyen didn't expect to find a Vietnamese language program here to help boost her daughter's interest. She looked for activities in Spanish, but couldn't find anything in her area.
The experience and their love of languages led Nguyen and husband John Gaskin to create Flip 4 Kids, a language immersion program that will begin offering summer camps in Spanish and Chinese this summer. The program uses the Thibaut Technique, which combines a structured curriculum and a child's love of play.
Summer camps at Rashkis Elementary School in Chapel Hill are for kids ages 4 to 11. Starting in the fall, Flip4Kids will offer 10-week sessions for kids ages six months to three years and their caregivers, along with a separate program for kids ages 4 to 11, at spots across the Triangle.
Teachers, who are native speakers, will lead sessions in games, music, movement, arts and crafts, hands-on projects, storytimes and more. Kids and caregivers don't need any experience speaking the language before entering the program.
"The goal here to is build a good foundation," Nguyen said.
Nguyen can list the cognitive benefits of learning a second language, including better standardized test scores. She includes them all on the Flip4Kids website.
But for Nguyen, who loves to travel, the ability to communicate with people around the world is a benefit that will last a lifetime, long after kids have to hunker down for the SATs, ACTs and other tests.
"For me, I feel that it helps them to be a part of the world," she said.
Learn more about the program from Nguyen in the video. Go to Flip4Kids' website to find out about the program and the upcoming summer camps, which are offered in June and July.
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