Language Camp: World-Class Fun
Language-oriented summer camps provide opportunities for kids to immerse themselves in a world language while having fun and learning about another culture.
A Ticket to a Promising Future
Shuhan Wang, deputy director of National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland, says, “Language learning is a ticket for future economic prosperity.” We’ve heard of the three Rs, but Wang says the four Cs — Creativity, Critical Reasoning, Collaboration and Communication — have become important in our global community. Language learning is central to all four.
The University of Maryland’s Startalk program, part of the National Security Language Initiative, operates day and residential summer camps throughout the nation that teach students 10 critical languages, such as Arabic, Chinese and Hindi. Several are in the Delaware Valley. Startalk also offers programs for teachers of those languages.
Learning Can Be Fun!
“Real language learning happens when it’s fun” says Colin Angevine co-founder of LinguaZone Language Academy, which operates a summer camp in Wynnewood, PA that offers 11 different languages for ages 4-17. “LinguaZone students don’t just memorize lists of vocabulary words. Instead, we teach colors by frosting sugar cookies, teach numbers by creating a shop to buy and sell and teach everyday language through activities like playing kickball or completing a scavenger hunt,” he says.
“Learning happens best when kids are doing something fun!” echoes Claudia Krusch, director of Easy Learn Languages, with 12 South Jersey locations. During a typical day at camp, kids might play with blocks, a puppet theater or kitchen, all the while reinforcing their target language in their everyday activities. Easy Learn operates half- and full-day Spanish camps for ages 5-10.
With the knowledge of a new language comes a natural curiosity about the places and people who speak it. Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture in Philadelphia teaches Arabic language through an appreciation of the Arabian art, music and dance. “The language is best learned by understanding the culture and making it fun for kids” says Miranda Bennett of Al-Bustan.
When a language becomes second nature to a child, you know you have hit gold. Summer camp at Dynamic Language Services in Haddonfield, NJ “incorporates intuitive, conversational teaching methods that encourage the child to not only speak in the target language, but to think in it as well,” says director Gary Klosner.
“The Chinese language is so closely tied to the culture that it is impossible for us to teach one without the other,” says Julia Chou operations director of the Main Line Chinese Culture Center, which offers several summer camps in the greater Philadelphia area. “It is precisely through cultural learning that the basic characteristics the Chinese hold sacred are instilled — working hard, being persistent and respecting others.”
Katie Verkamp is a local freelance writer and mother of three kids, one husband and a Labrador retriever.