At Speak! Language Center, our primary mission is to educate, inspire and empower people through language, culture, and community. Based in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia with a network of partners at home and abroad, Speak! offers an ever-increasing variety of language courses, language training services and cultural events for individual students of all ages and learning levels. For your business, organization or academic institution, we customize language learning courses, training programs and events that we can bring to you.
At Speak! we understand both the joys and challenges of foreign language learning. Our conversational method, varied curriculum, top-notch faculty, beautiful setting and frequent social-cultural events make learning fun and transform the foreign into the familiar.
The Speak! story began back in 2004 with one Italian teacher and a group of five adult students – an engineer who designed parts for Ferraris, a poetry graduate student, a writer, a singer and a psychologist. Though she loved teaching university students, this teacher (Christina Ball) also harbored the dream of creating a language and culture center that would serve the entire community and welcome students of all ages and interests. Over time, this Italian center – Ecco Italy – blossomed. In addition to language classes, we added Italian regional cooking and culture classes, wine tastings, courses on Italian opera and cinema and established a network of educational and travel partners and programs in Italy.
With the Italian model well rooted, in 2006 Christina launched a Spanish division – Spain on Main –and added language training services and custom courses to the center’s offerings. In order to better serve the language and culture needs of our increasingly global community, the center was re-envisioned and “re-potted” in 2009 as Speak! Language Center. We continue to blossom!
At Speak! we understand adult learners’ frustration with learning a new language – that no matter how much they study, listen to CDs and flip through flashcards, so much seems to go in one ear and out the other. For many, the sense of disappointment in forgetting and sometimes even moving backwards often leads them to abandon their studies (and dreams). Which is why we remind all of our students that, as long as they keep speaking, listening and learning, they are actually still moving forward.
With the student’s ultimate goal in mind – be it fluency or basic proficiency – we remember to have fun along the way, to enjoy the journey of discovering new sounds, places, ideas and people. By teaching language in a context that is both personal (i.e. talk about yourself, listen and ask about others) and cultural (i.e. lessons focus on themes like food, family, music, festivals), we find that the new words and concepts cling to the mind more willingly and leap off the tips of tongues with purpose – and flair!
With the guidance of our instructors and the support of other students, you’ll learn to open up and trust your own voice – maybe taking a half-step back now and then, but always moving forward…and enjoying the trip!
Our programs for children emphasize play, cultural exploration, creativity and community.
Our training programs for businesses and institutions stress cultural awareness and language learning as key elements in our new global economy and society.