Foreign language pilot program for elementary students expands in Lee’s Summit

tporter@lsjournal.comApril 2, 2014 

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    Sites now participating in the Lee’s Summit School District’s Before and After School foreign language program sponsored by Kid’s Country and World Link 360. The pilot program began nearly six weeks ago with just four sites.

By his own admission, being immersed in multiple languages has meant a world of difference to Emmanuel Ngomsi.

Ngomsi, chief executive of World Link 360, speaks in multiple languages and he wants to bring the same sort of aptitude towards learning different languages to young school children in Lee’s Summit.

“Personally, I grew up speaking my mother’s language, my father’s language, the church’s language and going to school learning French,” said Ngomsi, a Cameroon native who speaks fluent in English, French, German and Spanish. “By the time I graduated high school I was speaking German and now I have added English to it as well as Spanish. From my experience and world wide research, it shows learning a foreign language increases children’s intelligence.”

World Link and the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District’s Before and After School Services program have partnered to provide foreign language lessons to elementary school students.

The pilot courses sponsored by BASS’s Kid’s Country program began nearly six weeks ago in four schools, but will expand to seven sites when the next sessions begin April 14.

“The kids are really, really enjoying it,” Ngomsi said. “It’s fun. We know that it’s an after school program, so we don’t have kids just sitting and learning because they have been sitting all day. We have them move around and sing. We learn as we move so they enjoy it.”

Dawn Butler, director of the district’s BASS program, said the partnership has gotten off to a successful start. She had her doubts in the beginning about the participation level of the program, but has since been shown her worries were much to do about anything.

“When we did our initial survey just to see if there would be interest to start the program, I told Dr. Ngomsi I’d be surprised if we got eight calls,” Butler said. “I’d feel really good about that. In days, we well exceeded that. I would be happy if we had eight enrolled, but we had almost 40, so it went really well.”

Tim Ackermann, a father of two children (Sophie and Connor) at Trailridge Elementary School who participated in the first six-week cycle, provided a testimonial to Butler that stated in part: “Sophie and Connor loved attending the program with their friends. The instructor made learning fun and easy. We often hear them speak to each other in Spanish around the house.”

Ngomsi said world-wide studies continue to show that being immersed in a different language brings out the best in a child’s learning development.

“Kids that learn a second language score even higher in math, in logic tests and are also proficient in problem-solving skills,” he said. “Also, a second language develops children’s self-esteem. They brag about it; ‘I speak Spanish.’ They feel very comfortable and every time they have a chance, they use it. When a child understands a second language, they better understand their own language.”

For more information on the before and after-school foreign language program, contact Butler at 816-986-3445 or email: dawn.butler@leesummit.

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