Stellar Learning provides a safe, stimulating environment for children of families who have chosen an alternative approach to enrich their language skills. We offer an array of intellectually challenging and engaging second language classes.
Learning a second language is beneficial in the development of students’ reading abilities and language learners transfer skills from one language to another. Our immersion classes are designed to be effective for children in grades three to twelve, recognizing that the time to start a second language is when brains are most malleable for learning.
Extensive research shows that second language acquisition correlates with improved cognitive skills, such as improved executive functioning, which is critical for problem solving and leads to higher achievement on standardized test measures. Furthermore, there are many less obvious skills associated with bilingual skills:
Being bilingual improves both children’s cognitive skills and their social abilities
Multilingual children are often better at communication than children with one language
Children in multilingual environments routinely practice considering the perspectives of others
Learning a second language increases a child’s cultural awareness
Multilingual children have a heightened ability to monitor their surroundings
Each of our language classes have a beginning and end, with the duration of classes lasting for three months. Classes are offered throughout the academic year and a more intensive option is offered during the summer vacation months. Classes are limited to eight students and sometimes have as few as four students. Students may advance from the Instrumental Fluency to the Cultural Journey as they gain confidence in conversation and interest in deepening their mastery of the language.
Our classes are led by highly qualified instructors who are both native speakers as well as second language learners and who have achieved superior abilities in their second language. Many of our instructors are currently pursuing doctoral programs in Romance Languages and Literature at nearby universities. They are skilled in our methodology of active participation and conversation for all. Our method is based upon the approach used to prepare Peace Corps volunteers for overseas assignments. Because conversation is the mode of learning, our classes often invite one or two students to join a class who are already relatively fluent in the language offered and wish to practice their skills so that they do not lose them. This approach enhances the conversational quality of the immersion approach we use. If you think your child would qualify for this unique role, please contact the program director.
Students who take our classes are expected to remain in the same level for approximately one year and perhaps the following summer. The entry level for each student is determined by an interview with one of our faculty and a brief 30-minute assessment. Students are promoted to another level with the consent of both parents and instructors.
Instrumental Fluency or Introductory Level
Instrumental fluency classes are designed for students who have not had any formal instruction in a language or have only taken language instruction in school. Through skits, roleplaying and routine everyday dinner conversations, students practice using simple vocabulary and sentences as they develop speaking skills that they can use in ordinary life situations. As students develop greater comfort and ease, they will increase their knowledge of vocabulary, their use of grammatical structures and the conversational fluency. Classes meet for either two, ninety minute sessions each week or three, sixty minute sessions each week. Often students will continue in Instrumental Fluency classes for a year or more before moving to the more advanced Cultural Journey.
Cultural Journey or Advanced Level
As students advance in fluency they may enroll in Level 2 classes, which are designed to encourage participants to explore the language through historical, artistic and cultural lenses. The advanced level students acquire skills that extend beyond oral fluency and are provided opportunities to advance in critical analysis of second language texts and writing in the second language. Students are guided through a cultural journey in which they are exposed to folklore, culinary traditions and linguistic variances of specific countries. All class activities will be centered on building vocabulary, grammatical structure with continued strong emphasis on oral conversations. Many of the rituals that are established in Level 1 classes are maintained so that the comfort and ease of interaction is enhanced. Due to the more advanced content and skill level of Level 2 classes, classes meet for three, ninety minute sessions each week.
We offer Summer Intensive classes in which a three-month class is condensed into a three-week intensive experience. Classes meet for three hour sessions, five days a week (four days a week for high school students). Students can begin classes during the summer and continue during the academic year or if they started classes during the academic year continue during the summer.