Learning languages made easy

WILLISTON – Children and their parents in Williston will have a chance to become familiar with foreign languages this summer through a summer program being offered on the campus at Williston State College.

Joyce Nadolny Shui, the wife of Williston State College president Raymond Nadolny, is the owner of The Purple School. She launched the program back in 2001 when she was living in Bellevue, Wash., and wanted to encourage bilingualism in her own children. The program, which specializes in teaching foreign languages to children, now is used in classrooms in Washington, New Jersey and Pennsylvania as well as North Dakota.

The program at Williston State College began Monday. It is an eight-week summer program for the price of a six-week program.

The Purple School is a program that offers language classes in two sections. One from 3-month-old babies to 6-year-olds, and the other for kindergarten through sixth-graders. The languages are taught through games and songs, so the children don’t experience the program as a class but as a fun time to absorb language.

The Williston program offers Spanish, Chinese and Norwegian. There is also interest in French.

The program has only been offered in Williston since fall of 2013 to the younger age group. It was not until this January that they began to teach K-6 at St. Joseph’s Catholic School and Trinity Christian School.

“Baby and kid brains can learn language almost effortlessly,” said Shui. “So we use kid-friendly song, games and play to take full advantage of this unique window of opportunity that only kids have. “

Shui called the teaching approach kinesthetic and one that uses all the senses, with a lot of visual cues and exercise in addition to singing.

The 3-month- to 6-year-old programs offer parent child classes, where the parents attend the program with their children. It is a good way for moms to get out and start learning too.

“It is also fun for parents to learn and the classes give them the ability to use songs at home to reinforce the language. The program tries to teach a lot of house held Spanish to be used at home,” said Shui.

Shui said the children will not become fluent in the languages, but they will develop a higher degree of comfort in learning a foreign language. Early exposure to another language will also help them perfect the accent, which will be helpful if they study a foreign language later as high school students.

“The important thing is that kids can get to a comfortable level with different cultural backgrounds early on,” Shui said. “It gets them interested in learning about these cultures with things such as food and song. The program also opens kids’ minds to learning language in general and gives them access to more people within different cultures. “

Most of the teachers Shui hires are native speakers of the foreign languages, but she said her most important criteria is that the teachers are good with kids and are engaging teachers.

The hope for the future of the program is that it will be brought to the public schools, said Shui.

For more information about The Purple School program, please contact Shui at 205-1962 or joyce@thepurpleschool.com.