Monday, August 11, 2008

I want to be a kid again and spend my summer here!

I stumbled across the website for A La Vanille, a French-language day care in San Francisco, and fell in love with their summer programs for kids. It sure sounds better than any of the summer day camps I ever went to! Too bad nothing like this exists here in the Boulder area.

Maybe I'll have to start my own French-language day care for Northern Colorado! Seriously, I do think about some day offering French classes for children at my home (once we finish the basement and have space for kids to move around safely and room to store all the materials and supplies that such an enterprise would require). But it had never occurred to me to organize week-long themed programs like A La Vanille's French garden and others. Brillant!

Does anyone know of other foreign language preschools or daycares or camps? Share the link or tell us what they do!

(Of course, if your children are old enough for sleep-away camp, send them to Concordia Language Villages for remarkable language immersion experiences. I can't praise these programs enough! Located throughout Minnesota, the villages are amazing: they are summer immersion camps for 14 different languages for kids through 12th grade. In high school, I attended Sjolunden, the Swedish village, for two weeks, and Lac du Bois, the French village, for a month (and then got credit for a year of high school French because it's so intensive). They recreate the country where the language is spoken, right down to exchanging your money for the other country's currency, feeding you food typical of that place, and taking away reading material in English when you go through "customs." All the activities, from sports and meals, are centered on exposing the campers to the target language and teaching them about the target culture(s), and there are formal language classes several times a day as well. It's all extremely interactive and high energy with great communicative activities. (Plus I can still sing songs from both camps 15+ years later!) I would recommend these camps to any child learning any language they offer (from Spanish to Arabic and Korean), even if the child is a complete beginner. Oh, and last year, one of my former students worked as a counselor at Lac du Bois! I was thrilled.)


  1. Wow that looks like a really fun day care. They look like they are well organized and have fun activities.

    For your readers in Utah, here are a few immersion schools and daycares that I am aware of:

    Until recently, my wife ran a Spanish immersion preschool in Salt Lake City, Utah called the The McKee Language School. Students of the school learn Spanish from native Spanish-speakers through activities based on things that are commonly done in the home. It is a 100% immersion program. The school is now run by International Language Programs, which operates several other Spanish immersion preschools in the state.

    We are also fortunate to have the Dual Immersion Academy in Salt Lake City which is a K-6 charter elementary school where half of the classes are taught completely in Spanish and the other half in English. The school also has an immersion daycare as part of the facility.

    Hope that helps!

  2. I attended the Teacher Seminars at Concordia Language Villages, and I had an opportunity to visit the villages as well. Forever changed the way I taught! I can only speak of them in superlatives! One of these days, I'd love to do the family programs they offer.

  3. Hi Sarah,
    Here's a list for folks in the Portland, OR area...
    La Creche Nursery (
    French American International School ( (french immersion 100% in preschool-5, the middle schol immersion for French, Spanish, German and Arabic I think)
    Portland French School ( (preschool-5 full-time immersion)

    I know there are a couple of preschool programs for French through parks and rec (Tualatin Hills Park and Rec and the Fulton Park community center). For Spanish, the options are endless for immersion, but public, private and religious. I know there are immersion charters and magnets for a couple other languages in Portland Public Schools too, but not sure which ones.

    For those in the Eugene, OR area, there is a charter system for French immersion k-12, with the middle and high school years taking up a portion of an existing school. The elementary is its own building. I believe it is called the Charlemagne School. I'd love to go visit it and see how it operates, and I believe it's 50% immersion.

    Hope that helps others around these parts!

  4. @Josh & Dory--Thanks for sharing the resources! I'm jealous.

    @Diane--I'd love to go back to the language villages as a teacher! That must have been such an inspiring experience. Have you read the book of language activities that Concordia published a few years ago? It's a good one.

  5. Oh, when can I go? That looks like a wonderful place!

  6. I'm so glad you mentioned Concordia Language Villages and specifically Lac du Bois. I attended Lac du Bois three times as a villager and then was a staff member for four summers after college. My husband was a villager for 10 summers and then was on staff for 10 summers. We both agree that Lac du Bois was one of the major formative experiences of our lives. It doesn't hurt that we first met each other there 20 years ago!

    A few weeks ago, we were fortunate to be able to attend the first ever Lac du Bois staff reunion, which was held in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the French village. It was wonderful to reconnect with people who had been our counselors and colleagues. Former staff members came in from all over the country and we got to share our current lives with each other. For example, one of the counselors I had as a villager is now working for the United Nations and another is an international human rights monitor. The Language Village experience is truly extraordinary and I look forward to sending our daughter there one day.

  7. @Molly--And you're the one who introduced me to Lac du Bois in the first place--thanks! We'll have to arrange for Griffin and Kellyn to attend the same sessions a few years down the road.

    While I was never a counselor there, one of my students was--she made me so proud!