Tots to learn Spanish in new preschool 

Burlingame preschoolers will soon be saying "buenos dias, profesor" — that is, "good morning, teacher" in Spanish — after a new class designed to develop bilingual toddlers.

The city’s first preschool Spanish class will begin later this month for 3- to 5-year olds to learn vocabulary, music and other subjects in Spanish. The 57 percent white, 13 percent Hispanic school district does have a Spanish-language immersion program in its elementary schools, but this course will be a before-school program at the Recreation Center and will not be affiliated with the schools.

"The younger they are, the easier it is to learn a second language," said Francisca Bustos, owner of the A-Plus Spanish Academy in San Ramon, which is teaching the class. "Because we live in California, everyone wants their children to learn Spanish."

Young students can more easily develop second-language skills and use it throughout their lives if they are taught at the same time they are developing their primary language, the Spanish teachers said.

Sandra Brown, who teaches Spanish to kindergartners through fifth graders at North School in Hillsborough, said students can begin speaking conversational Spanish by the time they finish elementary school if they are taught early enough.

"Kids are just more malleable at those ages," Brown said. "With the number of Spanish- speaking people, particularly in California, they are certainly going to have to" start learning Spanish at an earlier age, she said.

The average class size is eight students; the class limit is 12 students. Classes consist of hands-on activities for learning numbers, ABCs and opposites, and introducing new vocabulary and phrases. The goal is to gain conversational skills, said Bustos, who has been teaching these classes around the Bay Area for 10 years.

The Parks and Recreation Department will be offering the classes, which start Oct. 29, Oct. 30 and Nov. 2. The two twice-per-week classes will be $398 for residents and $462 for non-residents. The once-per-week class will cost $203 and $243 for residents and non-residents, respectively. All classes will be held 9 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. and end in December.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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