Bridges Language Program

Building bridges

Bridges: Children, Languages, World offers exploratory language and culture classes to young learners in the greater Bloomington, Indiana, area. Because learning a language at an early age enhances overall linguistic ability, Bridges aims to ignite children’s interest in languages and cultures so they’ll be inspired to study both with excitement and enthusiasm all their lives.

Bridges provides instruction to children in languages not typically offered in public schools. The program began with Arabic and Chinese instruction and has since expanded to include Dari, Hausa, Kyrgyz, Mongolian, Persian, Russian, Swahili, Zulu, and more. Classes are free and are open to the general public.

Who teaches Bridges classes?

Bridges language programs are taught by IU students who are studying Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs), in partnership with faculty from the IU’s Department of Literacy, Culture and Language Education at the School of Education. Everyone benefits: the student teachers acquire valuable teaching tools, and the kids learn a new language.

Teachers use the communicative method, which teaches new vocabulary via fun activities like games, stories, free play, crafts, and puppet shows.

Where do the classes take place?

Classes are offered around Bloomington: at the public library, daycare centers, elementary schools, and neighborhood learning centers.

Hilary Kahn

The Global Center swears by its responsibility to reach far beyond the Bloomington campus, and we are extremely proud that the award-winning Bridges program exemplifes this commitment in its innovative and collaborative community programming.

Hilary Kahn, Director, Center for the Study of Global Change

Which languages have been taught?

The U.S. State Department has identified many of the Less-Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs) that Bridges teaches as Critical Needs Languages for the United States.

  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • Dari
  • Hausa
  • Kyrgyz
  • Mongolian
  • Persian
  • Russian
  • Swahili
  • Turkish
  • Zulu