Director Alejandra Flores directs her students in Spanish, understanding that their knowledge of the language varies from that of fluent bilinguals to monolingual English speakers. The program was started five years ago in a LA city recreation building and is now funded almost entirely by the parents of the students. Parents interested in the program, wanted to enroll their children in a Spanish immersion theater camp. Many of these professionals are heritage-speakers of Spanish themselves, but had grown up in a society that favored English. Today, LA, and the rest of the United States, has become more open to bilingual and multilingual individuals as the benefits are more understood.
The children perform in plays and musicals in English and Spanish, but gain a great deal more of the language through Flores' instructions. And the students are eager to keep learning.
"I've learned many things," she said during a rehearsal break. "I can tell you my favorite color and what I ate for breakfast and I know how to say, 'Help. I have a medical emergency!'
"But I want to know more," Jude said. "A lot more."
To learn more, visit: latheatreacademy.com
This article was aided by the work of Esmeralda Bermudez and her article, which appeared in the LA Times on July 26, 2014:
Additional links on bilingual happenings can be found at: http://www.scoop.it/t/dual-language-education
-Mary Bridget Burns