UPTOWN — Music "is really the first language for children," said Lakeview resident Natacha McClane, whose 2-year-old daughter Sienna and 3-year-old son Lance are two of 58 children enrolled in a foreign language school that recently opened in Uptown.
"So to learn a foreign language through music and expression, that really resonates with the children," said McClane, 32.
The Language Stars Andersonville Center (which is technically in Uptown) opened last week at 4846 N. Clark St.
The program is play-based, teaching languages through singing, chanting, art projects and games, said center director Kerensa Peterson.
The McClanes dropped in Monday morning so the kids could get a one-hour French lesson from instructor Alexandre Coccini. They learned how to say the names of various farm animals in French.
"The teachers are great. They're very expressive, and that really sticks with the children learning the songs," McClane said.
Language Stars, which has 15 Chicago area locations, including two in Hyde Park and Lincoln Park, immerses kids ages 1 to 10 in language instruction in Mandarin, German, French, Italian and Spanish.
"We teach children a foreign language the same way they learn their first language," Peterson said. "Our goal is that even though we have an extremely rigorous curriculum, that the students don't think about the curriculum while they're in the class and playing."
The school is having a grand opening celebration this week. The festivities kicked off Monday with a Mandarin play date with kids aged 1-4, a discussion in Mandarin of the Chinese New Year for children ages 3-10 and various storytime events.
Also this week, the center will host the Lycee Francais children's choir, a scavenger hunt, a showing of "Despicable Me" in French and a ribbon-cutting ceremony and raffle giving participants a shot at a year of free tuition.
For a full schedule of events and more information, click here.