Want your children to be able to converse in Spanish, Italian, German or other languages, even before public school training starts? Many programs on Long Island offer classes that introduce kids to the language and culture of a particular country or region of the world. They might play bingo in Spanish, learn to cook Italian food, celebrate the Chinese New Year or warble a song in French. Here's a sampling:

Spanish Immersion Workshop, 227 Melville Rd., South Huntington, 516-935-0699; spanishiw.com

Classes are in Dix Hills, Garden City, Manhasset and Plainview

AGES 6 months to 8 years


COST Prices vary depending on class. For instance, babies 6 to 16 months old have a 45-minute class once a week for $49 a month; a one-hour weekly class for 5- to 8-year-olds is $119 a month; the two-hour class is $179 a month.

Everything is done in Spanish without English translation. The classes are based on hands-on activities, such as making a craft with directions given in Spanish. "We run in thematic units," says Robert Rua, executive director. "For example, it may be a theme such as 'The Hungry Caterpillar' or a fantasy trip to a Spanish-speaking country." "The Hungry Caterpillar" theme involves food and eating. The fantasy trip theme has students becoming tourists and learning vocabulary involving going to an airport, taking pictures and visiting beaches and other sights. Classes for babies, which parents attend as well, focus more on music and movement, using props and interactive items.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The Language Workshop for Children, 609 Plandome Rd., Manhasset, 800-731-0830; languageworkshopforchildren.com

Offers Chinese, French, Spanish and Italian

AGES Six months to 9 years


COST $330 to $395 for a nine-week session

"To teach a child, you need to structure it as play," says Gail Garrubbo, consulting general manager. "You never translate, so it's an immersion program. We want them to absorb the native pronunciation and attach meaning to those sounds and accumulate an inventory of vocabulary." To accomplish that, the 45-minute or one-hour weekly sessions use songs, games and visual aids.

Long Island French Creations Early Childhood Learning Center, 225 Greeley Ave., Sayville, 631-567-3207; creationsschool.com

AGES 2 to fifth grade

BEGINS End of September

COST $155 for eight weeks

advertisement | advertise on newsday

French-born Karine Ferro's classes have up to 10 children. "I like to teach with playing a lot of games, making it fun. It's much easier to handle that when you have a smaller group. It's very important, as well, for them to participate," she says. Raised and educated northeast of Paris, she came to the United States 19 years ago.

'L'Albero Azzuro' (Blue Tree) Italian program, Once Upon a Treetop, 151 Dupont St., Plainview, 516-349-1140; onceuponatreetop.com

AGES 2 to 11

BEGINS Sept. 17

COST $360 for 12 weeks

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Classes meet one hour a week and are designed to be a basic introduction to the Italian language, teaching shapes, colors, letters and basic conversational Italian. "It's also designed to be a cultural experience," says Antonella Antonacci, owner of Once Upon a Treetop. So the class explores Italian holidays and food as well as linguistics. "It's not a textbook class; it's not a read and learn blackboard thing," Antonacci says.

Deutsche Sprachschule Long Island (German School of Long Island), Stony Brook University, Meets at the Physics Department, 631-589-9426; dssli.org

AGES 2 to 14

BEGINS Sept. 11

COST $32 a month

Classes meet once a week for 90 minutes. Classes normally have fewer than 10 children. Younger children learn in a playful environment through songs and games; older children follow a textbook-based curriculum augmented with additional activities. Several times through the year, German cultural events are incorporated into the classes, says Chris Wesselborg, president of the school and a native German.

Plainview Chinese Cultural Center, 313 Round Swamp Rd., Melville, 631-659-3900; plainviewccc.org

AGES 5 to 18

BEGINS Sept. 11

COST $767 for a school year

Classes are three hours each week on weekends. Two hours are devoted to the Mandarin Chinese language, one hour to cultural coverage. "In language class, we teach reading, writing and comprehension," says Barbara Tjiong, director of the center. "In cultural class, we introduce the kids to Chinese instruments, arts and crafts, dance and calligraphy."

More language classes for kids, Compiled by Pat Brandt


Dix Hills Chinese Cultural Association, P.O. Box 1344, Melville, principal@dhcca.org, dhcca.org

AGES 4-18

SCHEDULE Classes are Half Hollow Hills High School West at 375 Wolf Hill Rd., 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays (first day of school is Sept. 17)

COST $495 per student (membership is $200 and tuition is $295)

Program includes three periods of class. The first two periods are for language; the third period is for cultural class. The class material is the "Standard Chinese" published by People's Educational Publishing tailored specifically for English-speaking students. Both simplified and traditional Chinese are taught. The cultural classes include Kung Fu martial arts, dancing, painting, arts and crafts, and board games.


Young Inidan Culture Group, 999 Herricks Rd., New Hyde Park, 516-739-1575, yicg.com

AGES 5 and up

SCHEDULE Classes are Saturdays at the Herricks Middle School, 7 Hilldale Dr., Albertson.

COST $280 per child.

Hindi conversation class is offered for 30 sessions on Saturdays from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. Students will learn to understand and converse in Hindi. Beginners, intermediate and advanced classes in reading and writing are also available from 2 to 4:30 p.m. for the same cost. There will be an open house Sept. 18 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Tamil also is offered; call for information.


Gerry Tobin Irish Language School, 27 Locust Ave., Babylon, 631-957-7776, scoilgaeilge.org

AGES 5 and up


The "Mommy, Daddy and Me" program teaches children the language through fun and games. Classes are on Thursdays from 7:15 to 8 p.m.


Italian Language Littles, 1201 N. Broadway, Massapequa, 631-957-3321, italianlanguagelittles.com

AGES 1 1/2 to 8 years

COST $210 per child

Seven-week sessions are held in the fall, winter and spring at the Wind 'n Willow Pre-School Center. This program has two age groups: 1 1/2 to 3 and 4 to 8. Classes are 45 minutes long and are hands-on. Classes include dancing, songs and crafts. Themes are introduced with pictures and props.


Young Indian Culture Group, 999 Herricks Rd., New Hyde Park, 516-739-1575, yicg.comyicg.com

AGES 5 and up

SCHEDULE Classes are at 2 p.m. Saturdays at the Herricks Middle School, 7 Hilldale Dr., Albertson.

COST $280 per child for 30 sessions

The students learn Tamil alphabets and learn to form sentences in Tamil. They will also learn Tamil words for commonly used terms. They will be taught to speak, read and write in Tamil, with the help of a textbook followed by the elementary school children in Tamilnadu.