Back in 2014, I featured the moms behind The Spanish Corner, which offers parent-child language programs.
The total immersion program for kids and their caregivers feature 45-minute classes with songs and conversations, all in Spanish. Created by Kelly Parker and Kate Kiec, long-time Spanish instructors, the program uses various props to help non-Spanish speakers follow along and learn the language at the same time.
A lot has changed in the past few years. Parker moved away from the Triangle, but Kiec has been busy building the program, hiring another teacher and creating a new album of Spanish language lessons and corresponding songs.
I checked in with Kiec to learn more about what she's offering through The Spanish Corner. Here's our Q&A:
Go Ask Mom: A lot has changed since we last spoke. What's been going on with The Spanish Corner in the last couple of years?
Kate Kiec: There have been some changes indeed! I have taken over as sole owner of The Spanish Corner and have a new venue for our classes. We teach at Wild @ Art in the Five Points area. Based on our success in the Five Points area of Raleigh, we are expanding this spring to Apex/Cary/Holly Springs by teaming up with Playdays in Apex. And I am excited to have had Annabel Coleman, a native of Venezuela, as a TSC teacher for the past year. She has been such a talented addition to the program!
GAM: Tell me about your programs. What ages are they designed for? What do they entail?
KK: The classes are designed for kids ages 2 to 8, but all ages are welcome. Each 45-minute lesson is taught in total-immersion Spanish (no English at all!) through songs, movement and hands-on activities. The classes are designed to engage the whole family. Kids and their parents (or other caretakers) learn Spanish together!
I believe it’s important for the adults to be learning alongside their kids so that they’re able to reinforce the lessons at home. TSC’s main goal is to give families the Spanish skills to carve out time each day to practice together at home. The lessons are designed to make the material easy to incorporate into everyday life. Each five-week session is a theme such as “daily routine,” “celebrations,” or “food/meals,” and families are given a folder with lesson notes, song lyrics and activities (both printed and downloadable from my website) to do together at home. In addition, TSC families have access to online video supplements that I create for each session that help reinforce what we learn in class.
GAM: You've also joined forces with a musician and producer, along with an illustrator. Tell us about those projects.
KK: Yes — what fun! After creating The Spanish Corner characters, Cata la Gata and Ponce el Perro, I had an idea to write a book/music series in which they would go on Spanish language adventures together.
I had written the songs and was looking for someone local to help me create an album when a friend recommended the musician/producer Grady Crumpler of Raleigh’s BrickHouse band. He helped me turn my vision into an album of audio lessons and songs that’s now available on Amazon and CDBaby.
During the recording process, I was simultaneously looking for an illustrator to bring my characters and book ideas to life. The art teacher at my daughter’s school, Beth O’Brien, was just the person! The idea is for the book and the album to be sold together with access to online supplements as well.
GAM: Why is it so important for kids to learn a foreign language? Why do you think they respond to your program?
KK: Spanish is one of the most spoken languages throughout the world. Parents recognize the value in knowing a foreign language and having cultural awareness. They see the opportunities that this can bring for their children. I believe it’s important to instill global awareness in our children; learning a foreign language is a great way to do this.
In addition, studies show that children learn language more easily than adults — the earlier the better! But the bottom line is that it’s FUN! Families respond well to TSC classes because they engage both the child and the adult, encouraging them to bond through learning a foreign language together.
GAM: How do you hope The Spanish Corner will grow and change in the future?
KK: Oh my — I have big dreams for The Spanish Corner! I plan to grow our seated classes so that we are able to offer an even wider variety of times and locations for our families. After the first book is published, I will continue to work on a series of Cata and Ponce adventures through more books/albums.
My ultimate vision is to not only grow the local area classes, but also to create an online learning program, themed in a way that will engage families all over the world in reading and speaking Spanish together!
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.