IRVINE — Families gathered this week in a business park near the Irvine Spectrum Center to celebrate the grand opening of a Chinese language school's second location.
A Little Dynasty Irvine Spectrum, 9844 Research Drive, opened to better accommodate the hundreds of families who enrolled at its original location, 6829 Quail Hill Parkway, since it opened in September 2010.
The school teaches children as young as 15 months Chinese through singing and dancing, puppet shows, games, stories and other techniques.
The approach is fun, which is more interesting to a preschooler than learning a language, said Laguna Beach resident Anita Wang, the mother of twin 5-year-olds in the program.
"This school is actually fantastic," she said. "It's great. They make it fun."
The school offers Parent & Me classes for children 15 months to 5 years and Chinese School Language Immersion for children 3 and older.
The popularity in Chinese language schools started about six years ago, said Tim Cheng, coordinator for the Taiwan Academy of Los Angeles.
Cheng attributes the popularity to the U.S. government offering grants to learn the language and the large role China has in business.
The advantages that speaking Chinese will give her children played into Irvine resident Grace Chen's desire to enroll her 5-year-old daughter, Morgan, in the class.
A Chinese speaker herself — her husband also speaks a little — Chen wants her children to know her culture.
"We still want to make sure they know their roots," she said.
Passing on her heritage is also important for Wang, whose twins have been taking classes for almost a year.
The decision to enroll her children is much different than how she grew up, when her father emphasized speaking English.
For Wang, the language is a family affair now that she can speak with her children. Even her husband, a native English speaker, is picking up words.
"He's learning from them," she said. "They're his translators."