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Good for the Brain: Learning more than one language
By Konni Barich
Foreign Language for Youth
Meet the Author: Director Konni Barich
In 1994, my three kids were at Columbia Elementary in the Mukilteo School District. I started Foreign Language for Youth because I wanted my own children to become fluent in a language and I was not alone: many other parents I met wanted the same thing for their children.
Studies show the window of opportunity for learning a language is before the age of 12, so I still had a couple years for my own children to be exposed. After much research and observation, I envisioned a program where students learned basic dialogue segments that they could build into conversations; all through games, songs, fun activities and drama. It had to be fun for the kids.
In March of 1995, FLY had three classes teaching Spanish, Korean and Japanese to thirty students in the Mukilteo School District. Since that time we’ve added curricula for French, German, Mandarin Chinese and Arabic. In 2012 over 600 students enjoyed our classes as FLY celebrated its 18th year of teaching language classes to elementary students around Puget Sound.
My then ten year old daughter, Karli, now our Assistant Director at FLY and one of our first students along with her two brothers, has been working with us for the last 11 years; she offers considerable input to our classes, curriculum and is the creator of our website. Karli lived in Sevilla, Spain after obtaining her degree in Spanish from the UW.
Language learning was a top priority when our children were in elementary school, and I am so proud today that our son Bryce is highly conversational in Mandarin and Spanish and Rustin, our youngest son, is fluent in Japanese. All three of our children studied abroad after spending years in high school and university classrooms.
FLY was founded on the idea that early exposure, continuous study, and an opportunity for immersion are what it takes to achieve fluency in a language.
Konni has degrees in Kinesiology and Nursing from the University of Washington.