Ruth's Blog

Latest News


user by sombrerotime
calendarMonday, 24 October


— Community Event Enhances Spanish Learning with Cultural Appreciation –
— Is Your Elementary-School Student Already Behind in Today’s Global Marketplace? —

GRANITE BAY, CA — October 24, 2011 – Elementary-school students who study Spanish with Sombrero Time, a leading provider of Spanish instruction and curriculum, will be taking their Spanish out of the classroom and into the real-world at a dinner tonight at Más, a Mexican restaurant in Roseville, where approximately 100 children, whose first language is English, will converse with Sombrero Time instructors and restaurant staff in Spanish.
The event, from 5:30-6:45 p.m., is designed to give students an authentic, fun experience where they can see value in their Spanish and enhance their learning through the culture of food and dance. The young students will order for themselves and their families in Spanish and converse with the native Spanish speakers on the Más staff about a variety of topics, such as Jamie Garcia, the Mexican native who was the starter for the St. Louise Cardinals in Game Two of this year’s World Series. To extend the cultural learning, Zulema Balderas, a folkloric dance instructor, will be teaching the students and their families traditional Mexican dance steps.

“Foreign language is becoming increasingly critical to a successful education. It’s moving from ‘nice to have’ to ‘must have’,” said Ruth Finsthwait, cofounder and president of Sombrero Time, which has 1,100 students in the area. “Studies have shown the earlier a child begins to learn a second language, the greater the chance for proficiency, and the brains of elementary age children are especially well-suited for second language acquisition.”
In addition to the fact that Sombrero Time starts students while they are young and open to a new language, its approach differs from the norm because it stresses immersion and frequency. The children learn Spanish in Spanish, just as they learned English in English. Sombrero Time has students use Spanish in authentic ways, as they will at Más, rather than just having students memorize vocabulary and learn to conjugate verbs.
Studies have shown that to achieve fluency and literacy, students need 30-50 minutes of instruction 3-5 times per week. Sombrero Time was built on this conviction.

“Sombrero Time has become integral to our school,” said Erika Sloane, principal of Loomis Basin Charter School. “Our students and parents value it tremendously. The instructors and curriculum go way beyond teaching simply content; they teach human interaction. Providing these opportunities for students to apply what they are learning in a real setting is a great extension of the classroom and an enriching experience.”
Studies show that learning a foreign language is greatly enhanced by worthwhile activities that give them a chance to utilize the language and cultural appreciation.

“We have two students in the Sombrero Time program,” said Lisa Bader of Granite Bay. “It’s really cool to see all the kids speaking Spanish in a real-world setting.  The magic of Sombrero Time is that the children not only learn Spanish—they learn how to apply their language skills in a real-world setting. The evening at Más provides a great opportunity for the kids to test-drive what they’ve learned in a supportive, stress-free environment and it’s fun for the entire family.”


Today Sombrero Time (sombrerotime.com) delivers Spanish immersion instruction and curriculum to more than 1,100 elementary school students in Placer and Sacramento Counties. Cofounder Ruth Finsthwait, an expert in language acquisition in children, developed the Sombrero Time curriculum based on her knowledge of how elementary age students learn a foreign language. The company uses only native speakers and 100% of the instruction and student interaction is in Spanish. Classes are held at local elementary schools and at the company’s Learning Center in Granite Bay, where the company is headquartered.

Kim Carroll at 916-960-9202 or kimcarroll2000@yahoo.com


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Mexican Food, Community Events and Spanish Curriculum for Kids

user by sombrerotime
calendarThursday, 13 October

What do all three of these things have in common?

Great Question!

As you know Sombrero Time is where children learn Spanish.  Our complete Immersion Methodology and Spanish Curriculum for Kids have all been developed with one goal in mind:

-Create lasting results that allow students to Read, Write and Speak in Spanish!

Sometimes this means we have to be creative and find new ways to get out of the traditional learning environment and into the community.  Mix great Mexican food with real life opportunity to practice Spanish and we have a formula for building language skills while having fun!  We program events like this into our Spanish Curriculum for Kids because it really helps build confidence as kids mobilize their language.

Last Spring many of our fans and customers helped make our first community event at Más Mexican Restaurant a great success!  Continuing with the first of three community events this year we would like to invite you to Family Spanish Night with Sombrero Time.  In the spirit of community, fun and language development join us and other Sombrero Time families in the local community as we practice our Spanish with staff at Más Mexican Restaurant, Sombrero Time instructors and each other.

Here are the details:

Date: Monday, October 24, 2011
Time: 5:30pm-7:30pm
Capacity: We have room for 150 people for this event
Location: Más Mexican Restaurant in Roseville
Registration YOU MUST HAVE A TICKET TO ATTEND!  Tickets are FREE and available at Eventbrite.com.  Please go to the following link, download and print your tickets before they sell out:

Click HERE to Register on or after 10/14

**IMPORTANT** – Seatings: In order to provide faster food service we will be hosting two “seatings” at 5:30pm & 6:30pm. Please register by seating and show up at Más with your tickets in hand!

NEW-Traditional Mexican Folk Dance Lesson!  Come learn a few steps from a professional! Our very own instructor Zulema Balderas is also a professional dancer with Campañía Mazatlán Bellas Artes here in Sacramento (http://www.imbasac.com/).  Zulema will be demonstrating her craft between seatings.




Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Impacts of Early Language Exposure

user by sombrerotime
calendarThursday, 13 October

Ruth and I are routinely asked by parents with toddlers, Pre-K & Kinder students, who are concerned about the “negative” impacts of their children being exposed to multiple languages too early.  While these concerns are valid current research actually supports very early exposure to multiple languages and shows positive impact on neurological development.  Babies actually seem to have an amazing capacity to adapt and recognize pattern and show accelerated cognitive skills very early on.

Today I read an article from the Seattle Times that underscores this point.

What I found even more intriguing is that research is supporting the idea that language learning happens in a social setting, ie, a class room or between groups of people.  Put babies in front of TV  or even recorded langauge and they learn nothing.  Dr. Patricia Kuhl, co-director of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington, a leading researcher on the formation of language in babies was referenced in the Seattle Times article:

“Previous research by her group showed that exposing English-language infants in Seattle to someone speaking to them in Mandarin helped those babies preserve the ability to discriminate Chinese language sounds, but when the same “dose” of Mandarin was delivered by a television program or an audiotape, the babies learned nothing.

“This special mapping that babies seem to do with language happens in a social setting,” Kuhl said. “They need to be face to face, interacting with other people. The brain is turned on in a unique way.”

If you are a parent and have concerns about multiple language exposure with your child please consider what current research is showing.  You may be providing them a great opportunity to advance their cognitive and language development skills during a very short window of time.

To read the full Seattle Times article click HERE.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *