“Learning multiple languages is invaluable,” says Ms. Danyali, Head of School at The New Century School, which focuses on Spanish and Mandarin elementary immersion programs. “When children are exposed to or learn foreign languages they learn how to look at the world in new ways. It is a key component of problem solving to see something different and know there are multiple ways to interpret and embrace that difference.”
Historically Baltimore was a second home to Irish, German, Italian, English, Greek, and African immigrants and slaves. According to William Connery, a writer on Civil War and Baltimore topics who was raised in Upper Fells Point, Baltimore was the second entry point for European immigrants next to Ellis Island. Today, Baltimore’s historic neighborhoods like Fells Point, Highland Town, and Little Italy are a reminder of the city’s rich immigrant history and continue to be a bridge for new immigrants from Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East as well as provide welcoming and authentic language experiences for Baltimore families.
Baltimore bilingual story times (and other multilingual opportunities for kids!)
Looking for Spanish? ¡Empieza aquí! The Southeast and Brooklyn branches of the Enoch Pratt Free Library host Buena Casa, Buena Rasa Spanish story times for ages 0-3 on Thursdays at 11am. Cherry Hill has Hola Friends = Hello Amigos a bilingual story time for ages 3-5 on Wednesdays at 10:30. A K-5 Spanish immersion book club is held at the Southeast branch on Saturdays from 10:30-12:00 for eight weeks each season.
Canton resident, Yan Zhao, is a regular at the Buena Casa program. A native of China she finds exposing her 5-month-old to the Spanish story time helps create basic life skills. “My husband, who is American, and I feel it is important that she learn about other cultures and how to accept those around her. I also learn Spanish and share it with my husband at home. We learn as a family. That is important.”
EBLO Offers free Spanish children’s classes on Saturdays geared toward native speakers wishing to maintain their Spanish skills, however all interested are welcome.
Three languages on the go! The Enoch Pratt Free Library provides Story Any Time. Dial 410-396-8396 to listen to a new story each month in English, French, or Spanish.
English support. Mi Segunda Casa has free after school programs for international children needing support in English.
E italiano? Head to Little Italy’s Learning Center where children of all ages and levels can take Italian classes for eight weeks. Adults can join the fun and sign up for cultural and/or language classes. Pre-registration is a must.
Ready to take on Mandarin? Easy. Register at the Baltimore Chinese School housed at Morgan State University. There are K-adult Mandarin SAT, AP, Chinese dance, and art classes on Sundays throughout the year.
Go global after school! Lingo Leaps in Fells Point runs a range of movement based language activities for ages 3-10 in eight-week segments. Past classes include French Yoga, Chinese Chi-Tai, and intro to Arabic. They also hold language based summer camps and birthday parties.