PlaySpanish™ is a program designed to introduce children to the Spanish language and culture through a play-based curriculum. When approached this way, the language becomes a lively and captivating experience for everybody involved. While in class, children participate in a variety of activities that includes arts, crafts, story-telling, puppetry, music, dance, and games. As several parents have said: "PlaySpanish™ is learning made fun."
We, Carmela Tondo-Mata and Ricardo Mata, started the program in January 1997 with a group of 5 students. As we celebrate our 17th year playing with children, every week we have approximately 2,000 students participating in our classes throughout the Greater Charlotte area. Over the past 17 years, we have worked with over 12,000 children.
The classes are led by degreed native speakers and conducted in a small-group setting with an average class size of 8 students. The groups are organized by age and previous exposure to the language so that nobody feels left out or behind. In a typical group, the age range is no more than 2 or 2 ½ years of age between the youngest and the oldest child. Classes last between 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the age of the children.
Parents are encouraged to join us in class whenever possible. Since the setting is very casual, a PlaySpanish™® class is a great way to relax and spend quality time with your child.
Who Are We?
We are natives of Venezuela and Spanish is our native language. Carmela holds a B.A. in Education from Universidad de Carabobo in Valencia, Venezuela. She has 25 years of teaching experience working with children of all ages. Carmela, the heart and soul of PlaySpanish™, designs and develops the curricula, themes, activities and material used in class.
Ricardo holds degrees in Business Administration and Hotels Management. After several years in the corporate world, he returned to his true passion: working with children. During his college years in Caracas, he taught English as a second language, including two years at a private school where he worked with 5th and 6th graders, and as a private tutor working with Middle and High School students.
We are totally committed to the success of PlaySpanish™ --it is our present and our future. A key part of that commitment is our objective for the program: To make PlaySpanish™® the best foreign language program for children in North Carolina. The foundation of that objective is our staff. We have selected a group of highly qualified professionals who teach some of the classes. These individuals have been carefully screened --including thorough personal and criminal background checks-- and have received extensive training in the PlaySpanish™® methodology. They are native Spanish speakers who bring to the classroom vast knowledge and experience. Additionally, all our teachers receive training in First Aid and Child/Infant CPR –one of our requirements before they can begin working with the children. This is a partial list of the current teachers and their credentials and qualifications:
Sandra Valencia is from Lima, Perú. After 18 years in the corporate world, she decided to pursue a different career and became a teacher. She has been in our staff for 9 years and, during that time, has gained the hearts of many children including both our daughters. Sandra is a very tender, playful individual who fits perfectly in our organization.
In addition to her duties as a PlaySpanish™® Instructor, Sandra is also our Director Of Training and is responsible for most of the training our new instructors receive.
Evelyn Morales is an Occupational Therapist from Medellín. Colombia, with a B.S. degree from Universidad María Cano. Evelyn is a mother of two and brings to the classroom a very sweet and caring personality.
Leocadio "Leo" Ortega is a teacher from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He brings to the classroom a very friendly and outgoing personality, and superb ability to connect with the children. He is married and has two daughters.
Silvana Wilkin is the newest addition to our team. She is originally from Santiago, Chile but grew up in Venezuela. She holds an A.A. in Early Childhood Education from Central Piedmont Community College and has over 20 years of experience working in paid and volunteer positions where she taught Spanish and/or used it as part of her job. She is married and has one daughter.
PlaySpanish™ has been an integral part of our school since September 2000. Their teachers join our classes to present music, songs and story-telling among other activities. The material is presented in a fun-filled environment and, as a result, our children really enjoy the experience of learning a new language. While our 18-36 month old children learn to identify colors, shapes and animals in Spanish, the vocabulary of our 3-6 year old children includes many basic words and terms of everyday use.
The PlaySpanish™ faculty members also go the extra mile by joining our Peace Day Celebrations in April each year. They prepare the children in a Spanish-oriented production which showcases the children's acquired skills.
Our school is enriched by our PlaySpanish™ partnership; It adds to the strength of our academic experience. Ana Leahy Director The Charlotte Montessori School
NewBridge Children's Academy in Belmont is proud to offer PlaySpanish™ to all of the children enrolled. The creative and engaging activities offer all children the opportunity to be successful at any age level. The pace of the activities is quick and keeps the children completely involved. The theme-related activities are always relevant and pertain to what children are interested in learning. Our teachers are very impressed and learning Spanish right along with the children. We are so happy we selected PlaySpanish™ to provide enrichment opportunities for our children.
Amanda Hommel Director NewBridge Children's Academy Belmont, NC.
I used the PlaySpanish™ program as an introduction to a collaborative program with the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. During the PlaySpanish™ program, the children learned several Spanish words and they learned them in such a fun way that they had no idea they were learning at all. The PlaySpanish™ programs are delightfully interactive, extraordinarily effective, and literacy-based. Teresa Cain Student Services Spangler Library at ImaginOn