Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Media: Toddlers take Spanish lessons

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)
By Nika Megino Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - Holding up two holiday cards, Emma Troutner asked 2-year-old Deven Lakhan which one he wanted to decorate.

'El hombre de nieve,' Deven replied as he reached for the card with a snowman.

Spanish isn't his primary language, but Deven repeated more than a handful of Spanish words without hesitation during his Spanish For Children class Wednesday.

Troutner has brought the course to Joseph Nelson Community Center to give parents an opportunity to expose their children to a foreign language. The idea of bringing the class to Suisun City originated with her sister, who teaches a similar course in the Contra Costa area.

Samantha Lakhan enrolled Deven in the class to give him an opportunity to learn something new. She said her son even speaks some Spanish at home.

As the children painted on cut-out Christmas trees, Deven repeated the Spanish words for blue, red and orange as Troutner helped him pour paint onto his palette.

'I want verde,' said 3-year-old Satchel Ford, pointing to a bottle of green paint. Next to her, 3-year-old Savannah Milton asked for red paint.

'Por favor,' Savannah said.

Exposing children to a second language at a young age can be beneficial, said Katy Milton, Savannah's mother. Knowing Spanish as a California resident can be a great advantage, she added.

Savannah has been learning Spanish at home, and Milton said she enrolled Savannah in the class to give her another avenue to learn the language.

Learning another language as a toddler comes with ease because toddlers naturally absorb a lot of information, Milton said.

'They're just little sponges,' she added.

Another benefit toddlers have is their willingness to repeat words without concern for pronouncing them incorrectly, Troutner said.

Using visuals is the focus of Troutner's teachings. With every activity comes a new word. As the children were singing a Spanish song, Troutner taught the word 'musica.' With the Christmas trees, the toddlers learned 'arbol de Navidad.'

'It's easier to visualize than to memorize a word,' Troutner said. 'It stimulates their brain to different sounds and different words. It stimulates them to learn to speak. It doesn't matter if they speak English, Spanish or Chinese. They learn words together.'

Reach Nika Megino at 427-6953 or

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