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Foreign language programs for children in New York City

Once enrolled in one of NYC's foreign language programs, your little culture fiend will be multilingual before she can say "Danke." 

  • Photograph: Courtesy Bilingual Buds

    Foreign language programs for children in New York City

    Bilingual Buds

  • Foreign language programs for children in New York City

    Bonjour NY

  • Foreign language programs for children in New York City

    Collina Italia

  • Photograph: Michael George

    Foreign language programs for children in New York City

    FIAF

  • Photograph: Arianys Wilson

    Foreign language programs for children in New York City

    FIAF

  • Foreign language programs for children in New York City

    Hola Playgroup

  • Foreign language programs for children in New York City

    Instituto Cervantes

  • Foreign language programs for children in New York City

    Language Workshop for Children

  • Photograph: Keith Sill

    Foreign language programs for children in New York City

    La Petite Ecole

  • Photograph: Keith Sill

    Foreign language programs for children in New York City

    La Petite Ecole

Photograph: Courtesy Bilingual Buds

Foreign language programs for children in New York City

Bilingual Buds


Although many foreign language programs are already taught in school, it's good to know that New York City's can provide terrific supplementary learning for your multicultural kid. From le franais and Deutsch to Italian and Spanish, your kids will be breaking out in Bonjours, Danke schns, Gratzies and Holas before you know it. Foreign language programs are taught both individually and privately and range from full-immersion to focusing on the basics to help kids become multilingual.

RECOMMENDED: Kids' classes: NYC's ultimate guide to the best programs

ABC Language Exchange
ABC designs customized language programs based around children's interests and schedules. Looking for Cantonese lessons in the a.m.? Done. One-on-one Dutch after school? Sure. With more than 20 languages offered, the hard part is helping your tot decide if she has a knack for le francais or Deutsch. 146 W 29th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves, suite 6E (212-563-7580, abclang.com). Private classes ongoing. Twelve classes $825, single class $75. Ages 3 and up.

Bilingual Buds
With China now boasting the second largest economy in the world, kids who become fluent in Mandarin may have an upper hand when they enter the workforce one day. Bilingual Buds offers full-immersion after-school programs in which kids draw pictures and sing songs to learn the language. Children ages one to three begin building fluency in the Mommy and Me Mandarin Program, which features guided play and the use of props, like puppets, instruments and arts, to spark tots' interest in the language. 175 Riverside Blvd at 68th St (212-787-8088, bilingualbuds.com). Visit website for date and price information. Ages 1 to 10.

Bonjour NY
The Bonjour NY After-School Club operates a little like a summer camp—participants immerse themselves in French through a revolving door of activities and workshops, including crafts, performing arts offerings, songs, games, creative movement and more. During all lessons and activities students are encouraged to speak, read and write in the language. Various locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn (917-887-6652, bonjourny.com). Fall session begins in late September. $400 and up per semester. Ages 4 to 11.

Carousel of Languages
Weekly one-hour sessions (for kids as young as six months) or after-school classes (for elementary- and middle-schoolers) are dedicated to the use of visual, verbal and tactile learning exercises designed to foster the imagination. Each Italian, French, Spanish and Mandarin class (plus new additions English and Russian) focuses on various themes, from seasons to local neighborhoods. 144 W 72th between Columbus and Amsterdam Aves, second floor (212-501-8524, thecarouseloflanguages.com). *1300 Madison Ave between 92nd and 93rd Sts. Fall semester starts Sept 9. Fourteen classes $725. Ages 6 months to 12 years.

Collina Italiana
In the Girotondo programs, bambinos ages two to five learn the language while participating in age-appropriate arts activities, such as games, songs, dances and movies (think Disney flicks in Italian). Older children (ages 5 to 12) put together a play entirely in Italian (which they present at the end of the session) in the Teatro Italiano classes. As they prepare their lines, costumes and songs, they'll also practice Italian vocabulary, idioms and grammar. 1556 Third Ave at 87th St, suite 603 (212-427-7770, collinaitaliana.com). Fall session begins Sept 28. Fifteen classes $580 (Girotondo), 16 classes $670 (Teatro Italiano). Ages 2 to 12.

French Institute Alliance Franaise
If you're after the language de l'amour, look no further than FIAF—a full-immersion school that ties its exploration of the language to French art and culture. Highlights include Petits Pas, designed especially for toddlers. 22 E 60th St between Madison and Park Aves (646-388-6612, fiaf.org). Fall session starts Sept 22. Eleven classes $335–$615. Ages 1 and up.

Hola! A Playgroup in Spanish
For more than eight years, young New Yorkers have been boning up on their Spanish vocabulary, phonetics and oral skills with this immersion program that introduces tykes to Espaol through traditional music, movement, props, games and art. Various locations in Manhattan (917-648-5006, holaplaygroup.com). Fall session begin Sept 16. Eighteen classes $680–$720. Ages 1 to 7.

Instituto Cervantes
Want your kid to pick up some serious Spanish skills? At this institute founded by Spain in the '90s, native Spanish speakers ease children into to the language with games, songs and crafts; they also teach them about Spanish and Latin American cultures. As an added bonus, classes are broken into sections based on students' level of fluency. 211 E 49th St at Third Ave (212-308-7720, newyork.cervantes.org). Fall session begins Sept 28. Ten classes $315–$525. Ages 3 to 17.

The Language Workshop for Children
This spot teaches kids languages through word games, silly songs and peer interaction. Private and group classes are offered in French, Spanish, Italian and Chinese, and each semester students receive new materials, including CDs with original songs, picture workbooks and storybooks. 888 Lexington Ave at 66th St (212-628-2700, languageworkshopforchildren.com). Fall session begins Sept 17. Ten classes $345–$738. Ages 3 to 9.

La Petite Ecole
Though kids have plenty of opportunities to practice their franais, the curriculum here goes beyond straight French lessons. Kids can participate in the Giant Palette Painting Class, where they experiment with 2D art in painting and mixed media, or try their hand at La Petite Cuisine Global Cooking (little ones cook sweet and savory recipes with learning French words). *159 W 82nd St between Columbus and Amsterdam Aves (646-504-9694, lpeny.com). *45 White St between Broadway and Church St. Fall session begins September 30. Nine classes $525. Ages 5 to 10.

Little Language Playhouse
One-hour classes are conducted exclusively in Italian and emphasize the importance of "multisensory" foreign-language learning (think music, puppets and educational play). Visual learners will embrace the tactile, hands-on experience. 7921 7th Ave between 79th and 80th Sts, Dyker Heights, Brooklyn (718-238-3727, italianplaygroup.com). Fall session begins Sept 23. Visit website for price information. Ages 6 months to 12 years.


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