Providence Public Library one of first sites for new Small Talk Language Academy classes for young children


Imagine a baby learning to speak Spanish or Chinese or Italian or French.

Providence Public Library is one of the first sites, beginning on Oct. 4, of a new language academy that teaches children as young as 6 months of age those languages.

Language classes that stress “fun and play” will be offered by the Small Talk Language Academy, said Esther Gonzalez, its founder and program director.

The Academy will offer classes at six locations in Rhode Island, including two in Providence, and one each in Barrington, Wakefield, Cranston and East Greenwich. The latter two locations will not begin to offer classes until November.

Children up to 12 will be taught any of the languages in 10-week sessions, Gonzalez said. Parents can attend the classes with their children up to 3 years old.

Gonzalez, the mother of a 20-month old son, is launching Small Talk Language Academy because “I couldn’t find just what I was looking for in language lessons for my son” in Rhode Island or southern New England.

Gonzalez grew up both in Rhode Island and in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, speaking Spanish, her native tongue, and English.  “This taught me an appreciation of multiple cultures, languages and people - something I retain to this day,” she said. Her husband, who owns Pane & Vino restaurant on Federal Hill in Providence, is Italian.  He, also, would like their son to speak Italian.

 “We use the Thibaut Technique,” Gonzalez said.

It is named for Francois Thibaut of the highly regarded Language Workshop for Children in New York City. In short, she said, the language workshop teaches languages to babies, toddlers and children through "educational play."

It combines original music, vocabulary-building songs, language immersion, visual aids, movement and games, she said.

“Classes look like simple playgroups,” said Gonzalez.

But while the children are playing, she said, they are becoming “conversational speakers.”

Quoting Thibaut, she said: “Children remember the words that make them happy.”

Small Talk’s teachers all are certified in the Thibaut Technique, she said. They are trained at the Language Workshop for Children in New York. Each one speaks the language fluently, Gonzalez said.

Depending on the age of the child, classes run 45 minutes to one hour. No class is larger than 10 students.  Each 10-week session is $245. Enrollment is going on now.

For more information, check out the Small Talk website, or contact Gonzalez at 401-439-5353 or email her at

A sample class will be held at Providence Public Library September 14 at 11 am.