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Despite participation increase, afterschool programs still under-supported nationally

SUMMARY

  • TULIP focuses on providing Spanish instruction through reading and writing in the language, with teachers leading small groups in various language exercises. The students in the afterschool program are in kindergarten through third grade, and are entirely immersed in the Spanish language only between 3 and 5:30 p.m., the hours of the program.

  • The director of the program says 19 students are currently enrolled, some of whom attend five days a week. They begin to understand the language “very quickly,” and try to keep the course a smaller environment where children are able to bond with each other and their teachers, creating a more productive learning environment. The program is staffed by native speakers from Argentina, Venezuela and Colombia, as well as a college student whose parents immigrated from Mexico.

  • The program has been especially beneficial in the wake of some cutbacks in foreign language instruction in area schools. Instructors say the younger age is an ideal time for children to be immersed in other languages and cultures.

INSIGHT

The program established by TULIP features many similar types of activities you’d find in a standard afterschool program, but in Spanish and with a language-based focus. Children still come in, form relationships with their teachers and peers, enjoy snacks and games and participate in lessons, but the twist is that it’s entirely in Spanish. 

TULIP says the program works for children because it’s an organic environment, “where they don’t even know that learning is happening because they are immersed in playing and being creative with kids their age.” 

With the ever-rising number of fluent Spanish speakers in the United States, this is a wonderful twist on afterschool programming that is truly beneficial to the children who participate. Well done to TULIP and its instructors!

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