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 20th year playing with children, every week we have approximately 3,700 students participating in our classes throughout the Greater Charlotte area. Over the past 20 years, we have worked with over 15,000 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 26 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 went back 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:
Pamela Montalvo is from Portoviejo, Ecuador and holds a degree in Business Administration from Pontificia Universidad Católica. She joined our team during the summer of 2015 and very quickly became an integral part of it thanks to her great personality and ability to work with children. She is married and expecting her first child in late February.
Darlynn Caraballo-Solivan is an Accountant from Puerto Rico with a B.S. degree from The University of Puerto Rico at Cayey. Darlynn joined our team in August 2016. She is married and has 2 children.
Alicia Duvall is from Mexico where she got a degree in Marketing from The University of Coahuila. She joined our team in August 2016. Alicia is married and has 2 children.
Carmen Guisao is a Teacher form San Juan, Puerto Rico where she earned a B.A. degree in Education from the Univeristy of Puerto Rico. Carmen joined our staff in September 2016 with over 5 years of classroom experience. She is married and has a 3-year old son.
Yara Santamaría is from Panama, married and with 2 children. She joined our team in October 2016. She holds a degree in Education from the University of Panama.
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