A Language Stars Mandarin class in Reston.
For the 90 minutes that five- to eight-year-olds take their French class at Language Stars, their instructor will never speak English. Same goes for the three- to five-year-olds taking Spanish.
Regional Director of Language Stars Joe Trsar says a summer at his school isn’t so different from camp.
“One of our philosophies is fun with a purpose," he says. "So we are play based activities, art projects, snack time, relay races.”
The big difference is all those activities will be conducted in French, Spanish or Mandarin.
Language Stars opened offices in Reston and Alexandria last fall, and will add locations in Ashburn and Bethesda this summer. The group starts teaching foreign languages to children as soon as they turn one year old.
"The norm of, say, starting in 7th grade is too late," says Trsar. "It's past that window of opportunity where the children can learn through being immersed in the language and playing in the language."
That's why language schools are seeing increasing demand for intensive summer immersion programs. CommuniKids, a language school based in D.C. and Falls Church, has been around for five years, but saw a dramatic uptick in interest for their summer immersion program this year.
Co-founder Raul Echevarria says he thinks parents want the exposure their children get to a foreign language during the school year to take root with total immersion during the summer.
As global competition increases and children move to this country and learn English as a second language, Trsar says, being multi-lingual becomes more necessary.
"Thirty years from now, the average person will have a bachelors degree, maybe even a masters degree that might not set you apart," he says. "So what's going to set you apart, its going to be those unique characteristics like speaking two, three, four languages."