Q&A With Jackie from Salta -- Objectives, Inspirations and Community Spirit

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Jacqueline Sanin of Salta stopped by to give us some info on the new programs this year and their continuing objectives for their popular Spanish language programs:

What are the new objectives for the Salta program this year? 

We actually have quite a few!  This year, we have launched Salta! Kinder Program which offers classes two hours each morning and afternoon on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays.  I created the Salta! Kinder curriculum to mirror the New Jersey core curriculum kindergarten standards.  The lessons include science, calendar, mathematics, reading and writing - all in Spanish.   We feel this is a strong complement to many half day Kindergarten programs.  It's a lot of fun and extremely interactive.

Salta! also expanded on its cultural class offerings.   We want to instill a love of the Spanish culture as well as the language.  Art, Soccer, Cooking, Latin Dance, Theater Arts classes help children develop their fine and gross motor skills, coordination and boost self confidence. 

Furthermore, it helps children learn Spanish in a less formal environment.  Children learn through different venues and we feel that tapping into children's natural curiosity about culture is the best way for them to learn another language.  Children play fĂștbol with a Spanish speaking coach, learn about Picasso as they create their own Picassos, and help bring a traditional Spanish folklore to life such as La Ratoncita Presumida (The Vain Mouse), in Theatre.

 

Finally, we  have expanded our class offerings to include a reading and writing component that begins at the PreK level and currently goes up to middle school.  Salta! LEAP (Literacy Educational Advancement Program) ensures that children are not only conversational, but that they become truly fluent which means they are also able to read and write in Spanish.  Our pilot year was met with much positive feedback and encouragement with our discerning parents.  Children are conjugating verbs, learning to read and write in Spanish well before their middle school years. 

We have developed an outreach program to offer LEAP to local elementary after school programs. 

 

What are the most valuable aspects of the program, in terms of early childhood development?

 

There is strong evidence that children may never acquire a language if they have not been exposed to a language before they reach the age of 6 or 7. Children between the ages of 2 and 6 acquire language so rapidly that by 6 they are competent language users.  By the time children are of school-age, they have an amazing language ability; it is a seemingly effortless acquisition.   Furthermore, research shows us that learning a second language at an early age has a positive effect on intellectual growth and leaves students with more flexibility in thinking, greater sensitivity to language, and improved listening and problem-solving skills.

What was Jackie's original inspiration for the program?

I wanted my children to appreciate and love their Cuban/Colombian heritage.  So when my daughter, Andrea, was 4 years old, I borrowed the Spanish version of Sesame Street from the library and played it in the car, waiting for the cultural osmosis to begin.  Well, she hated it and started screaming and wanted it turned off!  That's when I realized I need to do something: I couldn't have my daughter hating her culture.  And it dawned on me that I couldn't possibly be alone.

That spawned the idea for Salta! Jump Into Spanish: a class that teaches children the beauty of the Spanish language and culture from 18 months to 10 years old in a fun and unique way. And that is how Salta was born!

Here's some additional info on Jackie:

She is a mom, an entrepreneur and a new resident of Metuchen.  She first started her business (originally named Rice n Beanz) in Metuchen 7 years ago.  She loves to help others (especially other moms who are going to open their own businesses!).  She has a great sense of community and feels that community is what makes strong, happy and healthy children.

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