As a lover of language and culture, my passions take me to multi-cultural environments. Since college, I’ve focused on studying Arabic. Immediately after graduating from James Madison University, I moved to Amman, Jordan for what
was supposed to be a 10-week language intensive grant called the Critical Language Scholarship program; I ended up staying in Amman for two years. I had a serious language goal, and as an adult pursuing the second most difficult language in the world, I knew I had to fully commit to be successful. One of my career goals is to serve a diplomatic role as an American patriot (whether formal or informal) and foreign language skills are essential to achieve this goal. In school, students learn Modern Standard Arabic; being in-country and experiencing the colloquial dialect felt like learning a whole new language. Even with my extensive education, I was not able to communicate at the level I expected. The key here is the immersion factor – without the constant full immersion of Arabic in my life, I could not have achieved my level of fluency. Today, it’s a matter of practicing and not neglecting my skill. This will always be a work in progress because I waited and learned Arabic as an adult.
After returning home to my family in the Washington, DC area in 2014, I volunteered my time in positive spaces while on the job hunt. One of the organizations I found was Language Stars. Shortly after I started volunteering, I was recruited by the company and hired as an Assistant Center Director.
Fast forward two years later, and I am now the director of our DC hub in the Language Stars Alexandria Center located in Old Town Alexandria. I have the honor of working with families who have been with us since the day we opened our doors in 2008, and I have new families joining us this week. We are part of a community of wonderful, open-minded, and driven people. At Language Stars, we focus on conversation skills and offer a full immersion, play-based program for children ages 10 months to 12 years. We also work with older children in our private immersion one-on-one setting. Our teachers are native speakers and have a passion for working with kids and supporting their development.
Language myths shouldn’t scare you away
Some parents worry that starting their toddler on a second language will interfere with developing English skills. Scientifically, the opposite is true. “Learning another language actually enhances a child’s overall verbal development,” says Roberta Michnick Golinkoff Ph.D., author of How Babies Talk.
Another common myth is learning a second language will distract a child from developing skills in other core areas. In fact, language skills enhance the neural pathways which make learning in STEM fields easier. In a 2007 study conducted at the University of Maine, children who studied foreign languages saw an academic boost in core subjects: reading, math, social studies, and English literacy.
Language Stars prepares young learners for the future
I always tell my families, “I wish I had a program like Language Stars to learn Arabic at an earlier age; it would have been so much easier.” Given the international nature of Metro DC, everyone can agree language skills are essential. At Language Stars, we focus on individual family goals. With our programs running year-round and a rolling enrollment system, families are able to join us any time. We just entered our busiest season with the release of the new Academic Year schedule. Join us as you prepare your young learner to become a global citizen!