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Parents Launch 'Immersive' Dual-Language School in LIC to Fill Local Void

 The school will offer classes for babies, toddlers and kids up to 11 years old.
The school will offer classes for babies, toddlers and kids up to 11 years old.
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Courtesy LinguaLab

LONG ISLAND CITY — A pair of local parents and educators are opening their own "immersive" language school for youngsters this fall, after efforts to bring a French dual-language program to a public school in the neighborhood have so far proved unsuccessful. 

LinguaLab will open its doors on Sept. 11 at 11-11 44th Road, offering enrichment programs in French, Russian and Spanish for infants, toddlers and kids up to 11 years old. The school will feature classes that teach language through movement, music, dance, art and other interactive activities.

"To live in our world, to speak more than one language and understand different cultures — it’s a gift," said Madelia Bergeroo, LinguaLab's co-founder. "It's a long process to learn a different language. The earlier you do it, the easier it's going to be."

Bergeroo, a certified language teacher and parent who lives in Astoria, will be teaching many of the classes at LinguaLab. She worked as an instructor for the past two years with La Caravane FrancoFun, a French immersion program that rents classroom space at the Queens Paideia School building in Court Square.

She founded LinguaLab alongside Nodra Isamiddinova, another local parent and translator, and the team includes six other instructors, including two professional dancers who will be teaching "creative movement" classes in Spanish and Russian. 

The fall semester will feature more than 20 beginner and advanced courses, each able to accommodate between eight and 12 kids, organized by the children's age and language proficiency.

Options include an 80-minute "French Learners" class for 3 to 5 year olds that runs for 12 weeks at the cost of $360; Russian-language "baby and me" classes that costs $25 for each 45-minute session; and hourlong Spanish after-school classes priced at $432 for 12 weeks. 

Both Bergeroo are Isamiddinova raising bilingual and multilingual children themselves, and say their classes fill a void in language education in western Queens. The public schools in District 30 currently only offer dual-language programs in Spanish, but none in French or Russian, according to the city's kindergarten directory for the 2017-'18 school year. 

"The solution is to go to Manhattan or go to Greenpoint, or far away," said Bergeroo, who's sending her own son to a school in Brooklyn this fall because it has a French program. 

The pair eventually hope to expand their offerings at LinguaLab, including adding classes for adults down the road to have the school serve "more as a community center."

"That's the idea — to offer various languages to the community of Long Island City and Astoria," Bergeroo said.

LinguaLab will be offering demo classes later this month. For more information and a complete schedule of fall sessions, visit the school's website.