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How soon should I start on baby language lessons, and where?

Everyone wants their kid to be a smarty pants. And with more and more early childhood development studies linking higher intelligence to acquisition of...

Illustration: Peter Hoey

Everyone wants their kid to be a smarty pants. And with more and more early childhood development studies linking higher intelligence to acquisition of secondary and tertiary languages at a young age, the question is when to start? According to Pamela Mason, director of the language and literacy program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, it’s never too early. Kids “should be exposed to oral language in other languages as soon as possible,” she says. So hurry up and pick from these area programs:

Alliance Française(810 N Dearborn St, 312-337-1070) offers “Mom, Pop and Tot” French classes for ages 1–2 ($105 for nine half-hour lessons) and 2–4 ($210 for nine hour-long lessons) and “Learn French through music and song” for ages 1–3 ($190 for nine one-hour classes). New sessions begin February 7.

The Language and Music School(150 N Oak Park Ave, Oak Park, 708-524-5252) has “Music with Movement and Spanish” for ages 4 months–4 years old (eight-week sessions meet once a week for $178, twice a week for $278 and three times a week at $378).

Language Stars(1741 N Elston Ave, 773-772-7877) runs Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, Italian and German “Parents and Tots” classes for ages 1–3 at seven Chicago-area centers. Sign up for the full, 34-week academic year or a ten-week summer session ($150 per month).

Little Linguists(1803 W Byron St, 877-557-9744 and other locations) offers Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, French and Italian “Parents and Baby” classes for babies ages 3 months–1 year ($300 for 13-week session). New sessions begin March 21.

Multilingual Chicago(2934 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-292-7676) has Spanish, French, Italian, Hindi, Greek and Korean “Fine Arts for Tots” classes for ages 3 months–1 year, and “Parents and Tots” language classes for 1- to 3-year-olds ($95 per month or $425 for five months; enroll before the first of each month).

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