Written by: Lauren Yagoda, Professional Development Intern
Senior psychology major Caleb Diaz has had a passion for child development since he took a course on neurological development last summer.
“[The class] really sparked an interest [in me],” said Diaz. “I became fascinated with how miraculously the brain develops in the [infantile stage].”
Diaz’s interest in the field and his passion for Spanish prompted him to develop his own Spanish class at Nest Philly, a child enrichment and activity center where he has been interning since August.
As a Programming Intern at Nest Philly, Diaz works with children who are between eight months and six years-old. He uses fun and engaging approaches to teach his students.
“We sing a lot of songs in Spanish that [the children] already know in English, so [they learn] the translated versions,” said Diaz. “We’re also doing a bunch of call and response games where they say a couple of words in Spanish that are simple.”
The conception of the idea started when Diaz was teaching Spanish lessons on a smaller scale in November.
“I had been given the opportunity to host small, 15 to 20 minute Spanish lessons [through my internship], and I got a pretty good following of people,” said Diaz. “ I [didn’t] want to develop a single class, I wanted to develop a series of classes.”
Diaz believes his program is successful because of the proven benefits for children who are multilingual.
“A lot of research suggests that it’s extremely beneficial to start learning a different language [at a young age],” said Diaz.
Diaz’s learned to speak Spanish at an early age from his family and other members of his social circle.
After graduation, Diaz hopes to attend graduate school and eventually earn a PhD in developmental cognitive neuroscience, which he will use to pursue a career working with younger children.
“I would love to work with infants and toddlers to understand how they learn about themselves, how they learn about others and their own schemas,” said Diaz. “That would be a dream job for me.”