Research has shown that young children have a unique ability to absorb a foreign language naturally. Experts estimate that by age 8-12, humans already lose the ability to hear and say new sounds. Young brains are hard wired to acquire language. Taking advantage of the window of opportunity that exists between birth and adolescence allows a child to optimize his or her learning potential, and speak the second language with a native accent. In addition, studies show that young children who learn a second language enjoy many additional cognitive benefits, such as enhanced problem-solving skills, enhanced spatial relation skills, and heightened creativity. When children enjoy their environment and feel safe, they absorb their surroundings and learn without even realizing it.
Mis Amigos uses a preschool curriculum program designed by our staff. The curriculum has a thematic approach each month, with a variety of hands-on opportunities for exploration of the world around them. We feature three main themes each month including the season and the study of a Spanish-speaking country. In addition, the children are continually reinforcing their knowledge of letters, numbers, colors, and shapes through songs, stories, science, games, and fun. Our teachers have experience with preschoolers from their home countries and also bring their own ideas into the classroom. All of this is done in a Spanish immersion environment with no English spoken.
Mis Amigos is just like a "regular" preschool except it is all done in Spanish! The daily schedule at Mis Amigos includes: circle time when students share in common experiences and discuss activities for the day, snack time, activity time when students are taught Spanish while also developing fine motor skills through art projects, songs and games, outdoor/indoor play time, story time, and circle time once again when students reflect on the activities of the day.
Preschool classes are usually 10 children with 1 teacher. We believe the classes should be small to create a meaningful experience for each student. Mis Amigos' commitment to small class size ensures that the teacher is able to engage each student in the Spanish language.
At Mis Amigos, your child will be taught entirely in Spanish. Almost all of teachers were raised the language and culture of Spanish. Our teachers are always energetic, compassionate, creative, and well-spoken. Coming from various countries, they are gifted as natural teachers and each teacher brings a different view of the world. Our teachers have degrees from their native countries and they each have experience teaching young children. All of our teachers and staff have had background checks and are licensed as preschool teachers by the MN Dept of Human Services.
The class is complete immersion, which means no English will be spoken except in emergency situations. Communication with parents will be in English. Once the children enter the classroom, they are immersed in (surrounded by) the Spanish language.
Young children learning a second language will learn Spanish the same way they learned their first language. The teacher will use hand and body cues, stories, inflection, facial signals, songs, games, and fun to make clear what is being conveyed. This way of teaching is known as Total Physical Response (TPR), and it is very successful in communicating in situations where the language is not understood. Children learn to explore and examine their surroundings and environment. In a short time, they catch on to what is being communicated. Young children do not have the same inhibitions that older people tend to have while learning. They are natural mimics and have little fear in making mistakes; they absorb the second language much more naturally and without hesitation than an older child or adult might.
No prior exposure or knowledge of Spanish is required. We assume children coming to our class are being exposed to Spanish immersion for the first time. However, we welcome and encourage children who have some prior knowledge of Spanish - they tend to be natural tutors and helpers to the other kids!
It is not necessary that parents speak Spanish. The teachers instruct your child with proper pronunciation, grammar, and accent. Of course, having reinforcement at home is always an advantage, but children with little or no reinforcement of Spanish at home are just as successful in immersion programs as those with native speakers at home. Parents often enjoy learning Spanish at the same time as their children. Most parents observe that the younger students quickly surpass adults in their learning curve.
It is difficult to quantify exactly how much a child will retain since each child is unique in his/her language development. However, studies have shown that exposure to foreign language at a young age aids in learning a second or third language at adolescence and adulthood. The familiarity with the Spanish language will also help them to "pick it up again" at a later age. Studies have shown that learning a foreign language adds additional cognitive benefits some of which include: enhanced problem-solving skills, enhanced spatial relation skills and heightened creativity.
No, Mis Amigos is a private preschool and receives no public funding. Our high caliber programming is run exclusively with our tuition base and minimal fundraising. We do provide before- and after-school care for International Spanish Language Academy (ISLA), a charter school sponsored by the Hopkins School District.
No, Mis Amigos is not religiously affiliated. Mis Amigos Spanish Immersion is dedicated to embracing the diversity that makes our world rich.