A place for learning language

Private school in Ashland offers intimate lessons in six foreign tongues
Above: French instructor Akissi Goffinet gives a thumbs-up to a student after correctly pronouncing the French phrase for “a bottle of water” at The Language Spot in Ashland. Below: Goffinet helps French student Rhiannon Lefay.Jim Craven

Ashland resident Jeanne LeGrand sits at a table in a warehouse office at The Language Spot on Ashland's East Hersey Street and gives her classmates some clues:

"Il est un chanteur et un danceur (He is a singer and a dancer.)," LeGrand says in stumbling French. "Il est mort (He is dead.). Il est 50 ans (He is 50 years old.)."

If you go

What: The Language Spot, a private language school in Ashland offering instruction in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German and Russian

Address: 300 E. Hersey St., Suite 10D, Ashland

Phone: 541-261-3636

Web site: thelanguagespot.tripod.com

"Michael Jackson," calls out Ashland resident Peter Nemzek.

The guessing game is part of speaking and listening practice for the day at a French class at the new private language school.

The school opened last October and now has about 50 students studying French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German and Russian.

"It started out small, and it's steadily growing," said school founder Maya Moore.

Moore, an English as a Second Language and academic skills instructor at Rogue Community College, founded the school last October to help expand the choices for learning a second language in the Rogue Valley.

"I wanted to create a place where people could learn languages in a fun and relaxed way, using methods that have been proven to be effective," Moore said. "When I started the language center, I also wanted to provide ongoing support and training for language instructors."

Moore initially envisioned offering classes solely for adults. But after she received numerous requests for language classes for children, she started a Spanish class for toddlers and a Russian class, mostly for the children of Russian immigrants. The Russian class is held at Medford's Central Library on Central Avenue.

Tuition is $48 for six weeks of instruction. None of the classes are for credit, and there are no tests or formal assessments. Students show proficiency through a project at the end of the class, Moore said.

The classes, which include instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening, are aimed at providing activities that are suited for people with different kinds of learning styles.

Class sizes are small. The French class from 2 to 3 p.m. Thursdays has four students.

"I love the small student-to-teacher ratio," said Grants Pass resident Kelly Donley, who attends the French class. "I have been looking for a French class, but I never seemed to find one until this one. I was just thrilled."

Students come from a variety of backgrounds and ages, from retirees to toddlers, with different reasons for wanting to learn another language.

Donley said she plans to take a trip to France soon and wants to be able to communicate while she's there.

"I was contemplating an immersion program, but this is less expensive and more accessible."

Nemzek said he also is taking French in preparation for a vacation to France.

"I took French in high school and am a little rusty," he said.

"I decided to exercise another part of my brain," said Ashland resident Jeanne LeGrand. "I know a little bit of Spanish, so that helps and sometimes hurts because the words are so familiar, but the pronunciation is so different."

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 776-4459 or e-mail pachen@mailtribune.com.

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