Raising Russian-Bilingual Kids in Brooklyn/NYC Area
March 16, 2010 12:15 PM   Subscribe

How would I go about finding pre-K programs, elementary, middle or high schools in Brooklyn that teach Russian as part of their daily routine? Looking for public or private, as well as after-school or weekend programs. Interested in programs for both heritage speakers and non-heritage speakers. Also, I know of only one such place so far - Bambi Academy - and am interested in what it is like or if there are similar schools. Ultimate goal is for my future kids to be fully bilingual. I'd be willing to move around the NYC / Long Island area, as well, if there are exceptional schools there that could help make this happen. Also interested in finding education-oriented blogs or forums for NYC, if that might help answer this question.

So I may be living in Brooklyn for quite a while and starting a family here. My boyfriend and I speak Russian conversationally, but with an accent and not quite right grammar. I have this dream that my kids will be able to find a nurturing school where they can, through the program there and maybe other kids who speak Russian better than we do, become fully bilingual. This may be a pipe dream but its one I really don't want to let go of, especially given that Brooklyn seems the most likely place where something like this would be possible. Also, if my boyfriend and I stick together, he has a lot of friends and family in the area who are Russian speakers (not to mention wonderful people) who our kids could spend time with and learn from. Unfortunately, I don't know how likely it is that we would be able to speak high quality Russian in the home - for something like that, we'd probably have to actually move to Russia for a couple of years to brush up, and then be very diligent afterward, and right now that looks unlikely. I think that's why I'm focusing on trying to find school / educational programs where they could be immersed or at least take Russian courses, as a way of giving them the knowledge that we really don't have ourselves.

The problem I am having with finding school programs is I have absolutely no idea how to find out if something like this would be even plausible - are there any schools in Brooklyn (or even NYC in general) that have a bilingual curriculum, or even teach Russian at all? I've heard of Bambi Academy, which is supposedly a good school that teaches Russian and has high math scores, but that's about all I know -- other than I talked to someone who refused to send their kids there, with no further explanation, which is making me a bit wary. Googling Russian schools keeps turning up high hourly-rate tutoring programs, which isn't what I'm after.

If there are good schools elsewhere in NY or Long Island, I'd consider moving, and if there are summer programs you know of I'd love to hear about them. If there are education blogs for NYC or other forums that I could look at too, I'd love to know about them.

Thanks so much for any help or ideas.
posted by lorrer to Education (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Au pair!

Get a Russian speaking au pair. She can help all of you work on your language skills.

IMHO there are a lot of years between conception and elementary school. And if you don't start working with a language in early childhood, native-like acquisition will be a challenge.

tl;dr: school isn't where bilingualism happens, home is.
posted by k8t at 12:28 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

In my metro area, there are cultural chambers of commerce that are able to direct you to the local resources for exactly what you're asking for (and more).

Just look up the Russian Chamber of Commerce in your area, give them a call and see if they can point you in the right direction.
posted by FergieBelle at 12:53 PM on March 16, 2010

There are, as you know, lots and lots of Russians in Brooklyn; this resource guide might help. Good luck!
posted by languagehat at 2:28 PM on March 16, 2010

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