by Kirby LindsayOn Sunday, September 12th, from 2p – 6p, the Seattle Language Academy (SLA) will open the door to their new digs, and invite all Fremonsters to stop by – and literally learn a language. Throughout the Open House, SLA instructors will give short classes (approximately 20 minutes) in any of the languages offered at the school – Arabic, Greek (Ancient & Modern), Latin, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, French, Japanese, Spanish, German, Korean, Turkish, and English.
“There are people who are curious about learning a language,” explained Chris Read, the SLA instructor in Ancient Greek and Latin, “but had a weird or bad experience in school, and it doesn’t have to be that way.” SLA primarily works with adult learners, without the formal or stress-filled environment many of us experienced in language classes in school.
Take Another Look
“People don’t know that we survived last year,” Read explained. The Academy has reorganized after a rocky period, and with a new Board of Directors advising, the non-profit organization stands ready to welcome students.
Marc Mariani, Co-Founder and Program Director, said they’ve stuck with “everything that has worked in the past,” while incorporating innovative ideas for the future. These include Friday Night Film & Conversation classes, and weekend classes for those who can’t get to class during the week, or for intensive workshops for those seeking to learn “practical essentials” on a particular country before a pending trip. They also offer Humanities classes, taught in English, for those who want to learn more about the cultural aspects of a particular region.
A big change at the Academy has been its move, one building over, from Canal Centre to the old ‘PROLAB’ building at 123 NW 36th Street. According to Read, “it was a lot more spacious at the old space,” but the landlord of the new location has space for them to expand as needed. Also, the landlord will loan them additional space to use during the Open House. Still, the Academy currently has eight classrooms, of varying sizes, to easily accommodate every class size – including private lessons.
“Everyone comes in with trepidation,” admitted Read, who continues to take language classes, as a student. “People will gravitate to something they think they know,” he said. He currently is studying German, a language he studied before but wanted to review – and has bonded with his classmates.
Since many classes are conversation-based, students share information as they ask and answer questions. “Thrown into an environment where you are all at this basic level,” Read described, “creates a trust and a bond.” Last spring, his classmates discussed their summer plans – and decided, as a group, to wait to continue their German courses in the fall, rather than separating as some went to summer session, and others didn’t.
The community atmosphere provides a supportive environment, something language tapes or self-study can’t provide. Also, conversation among classmates offers opportunities for extemporaneous talk, experience with a variety of pronunciations, and establishes confidence in the language, and communication. Besides, classes – most run 10-weeks with 2 hour-and-a-half classes each week – gather together people that already share a fascination with a particular culture.
Stop by the Open House on September 12th, and indulge in a little glimpse into foreign cultures, languages and the ease of becoming a Seattle Language Academy student.
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.