Music and singing can be heard outside the house. Enter, and find a pile of shoes both little and big. Turn right and discover a group of young moms sitting barefoot in a circle on the living room floor. Happy toddlers squirm in their laps. One woman with dark hair and a wildly vibrant smile leads the group in a Spanish song. Everyone sings along in Spanish and mimics her hand motions that match the words.
This is Samantha Cox’s Spanish class for children. She teaches out of her Stapleton home and uses a unique teaching program called Music Lingua that combines music and language.
The program is 10 weeks long. Classes are once a week for 45 minutes, most of which is spent singing and using toys.
“It doesn’t feel like learning; it feels like play. There is no stress at all,” Cox says, and flashes another firecracker smile.
Cox has always loved language and travel. She lived in Rome for five years and traveled extensively in Spain and Mexico. She is not native to any other language but is now fluent in Spanish and Italian, and strives to raise her son to be trilingual.
Cox teaches Spanish at Jefferson High School. In January she became inspired to start teaching young children Spanish, but in a fun alternative way. During her research she stumbled upon Music Lingua.
Although widely unheard of, Music Lingua has been around for more than 10 years. Two moms in Montana conceived the idea. Their shared love of languages and dedication to raising their children bilingual sparked visions of a teaching program that is both fun and effective for kids and parents. After seven years of development, they created a program that is now practiced around the world.
Rather than focusing on technical grammar, Music Lingua emphasizes hearing the spoken language through activities, singing songs and learning gestures to match words. The program bases its research on linguists’ proven value of exposing children to foreign languages early on, even if they are just listening to music.
“When they start now at a young age, they will speak with the accent of a native speaker,” Cox says.
The program is designed for children up to age 6, but Cox thinks the younger the better. “Anyone can learn a language, but it’s best to start when young,” she says. She believes mere exposure to other languages has an effect.
Every parent receives a CD of Spanish songs with the class. Most parents play the CD at times throughout the week. After the 10-week session, parents in the class have said their toddlers now use Spanish words to refer to objects. Samantha’s curly-haired son, Charlie, now says “agua” when he wants water.
Since starting Music Lingua in Stapleton, Cox’s class has grown to 20 students. She will start a 9-week course beginning in September, which will be African safari-themed. Classes will be Saturdays at 9, 10 and 11am. She is also open to brainstorming other types of language classes based on people’s interests and has taught private adult classes like “Spanish and Vino.”
Visit www.musiclingua.com to find out more about Music Lingua. To contact Samantha Cox directly with questions about the program or other language classes, email firstname.lastname@example.org.