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Meet Miriam Epstein of Kallpachay Spanish Immersion

Today we’d like to introduce you to Miriam Epstein.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
In 2012, I was teaching English in a home school program where the elementary age children were also learning Spanish. I noticed the fun and ease with which they learned the language and reflected on my challenges learning when I was in high school. This was when the lightbulb went off in my head, and I went from teacher to entrepreneur. I love working with children and teachers as well as helping parents. When I became a teacher I had no idea that I would put to use my credential and Waldorf teacher training to start a business.

In the Waldorf approach, the arts are interwoven into the curriculum in such a way as to motivate children and help them to be comfortable in the learning environment. I wanted to bring this arts-based approach to a new language-learning program for children. The idea was to use the camp season as the perfect opportunity for children to try out something new, an immersion summer camp where games, art, and nature were the backdrops for learning the Spanish language.

At the core of the business is my interest in cultures, in helping people and making a difference, and in education. The business name was chosen from the Quechan language which is the language of the ancient Incans. It does take a lot of perseverance and inspiration to learn a language just as it does to start a new company.

In April of 2012, Kallpachay’s first camp banner went up along La Brea Avenue in the heart of Hollywood. The first camp began a few weeks later with twenty children in a home setting. Six years later, Kallpachay’s continuing expansion proves there is a need for quality, early Spanish-language education. In 2019, Kallpachay programs serve over 600 students, ages 4-13, in 30+ locations throughout the greater Los Angeles area.

Has it been a smooth road?
Due to the impact of starting a business, there was a major shift in my family dynamic. I had no idea how much time and attention the business would demand from me to get it started, but once I committed and it was in full swing, it was very hard to pull back.

Family life is always a balancing act, but in this case there was little time to adjust and prepare for the changes. I had a responsibility to my business partner to launch the business while she continued to work full time. Needless to say, the challenge of working late hours and most weekends so that my partner and I could strategize was a sacrifice I needed to make in order to grow the business. It was very tiring, but the positive responses I got from our new clients is what helped keep me going! On the other hand, my family made sacrifices too of having our home taken over by the business with all the conversations I was having during family time.

Another challenge was learning about all the aspects of running a business without much time for researching the how-tos of setting up contingency plans, budgets, and all the details that someone with a business background would already know how to do. This created a lot of pressure for me to keep up with such a steep learning curve and required a lot of time.

After three years my partner and I had come to a crossroads where we no longer shared the same vision for how to run the company. Since Kallpachay’s inception we were able to grow multiple revenue streams under the same language immersion umbrella, (a home daycare, camps, and classes), but with my partner and I both going through marital breakups, and the stress of keeping up with the demands and strains of the business cash flow, she decided she wanted to go her own way, and I agreed it was best, so we figured out a way to split the company we had grown together.

This resulted in me taking full leadership of a large portion of the company practically overnight, and managing everything myself for a few months until I slowly was able to pull together my own support team. I had all the responsibility to rebuild the reputation and infrastructure from the bottom up again.

After seven years since launching Kallpachay, the growth is still very exciting and demanding, but the experience gained has enriched my life. I feel from these experiences I can mentor others, I am keenly aware of my strengths and weaknesses, and I am still inspired to learn and grow through new business endeavors and initiatives. There are daily challenges of course, but I am able to beat them with a lot more understanding than when I first started.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Kallpachay Spanish Immersion – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Kallpachay specializes in teaching Spanish using immersion instruction to children and adults of all ages. We are known for our unique curriculum and immersion approach. Our innovative, signature curriculum uses imaginative themes infused with specialized communication games and activities to motivate students to build their fluency skills.

Kallpachay is known for maintaining a 100% immersion approach which means our teachers will not speak English or translate for students. Each curriculum provides vocabulary that helps students of all ages learn the language with ease to develop their confidence in speaking.

I started collaborating on Kallpachay’s first summer curriculum over three years ago with a talented curriculum writer. It was clear that she and I shared a creative vision and passion for language education. The imaginative themes became our trademark as we progressed and developed new ideas we also saw evidence that the methods in the curriculum were working for classes and camps, so we decided to create opportunities to share our work with other educators through mentoring and professional development courses.

I am proud that we are able to provide students with lessons that go beyond comprehension. The class routines incorporate communicating about feelings, and each of our lessons provides games, vocabulary, reading, writing, and a cultural aspect to round out the program.

The benefits of learning in the immersion approach with us are far-reaching in that it can help students to complete high school required language credits in advance, but more importantly, benefits are in the context of where students currently are. Parents report that our lessons helped their child test into dual-immersion programs, start speaking Spanish in the home, develop social skills and confidence by participating in the dynamics of our small groups, and taught them how fun it is to develop skills in the arts and sciences while learning to communicate in a second language.

We take pride in our vision that encompasses a boldness and vitality when it comes to exploring what is possible in revamping second-language learning in Los Angeles. We have committed to this challenge to refresh the public’s perception of what language learning is all about as we review, revise, and refresh the old techniques and embrace a dynamic world of the culture and influences that shape us.

Our instructors are integral to our success. They love their students and teaching and are creative, talented teachers from countries all over Latin America. They embrace and embody our guiding principles integral to keeping our students not only engaged but learning!

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and the least?
I like the weather, how multicultural it is, the creative and friendly people I have met, and the wide variety of activities and interests that are available to explore. Since I have always enjoyed eating healthy I like all the choices in fresh fruit and vegetables available at the farmers markets and grocery stores. I especially appreciate the fruit carts sprinkled throughout the city. I like that the city has a large Jewish population and many places of worship and since my family lives on the East Coast this helps me to feel connected with my heritage and upbringing. One of my favorite places to go is The Getty Museum.

I dislike the traffic as much as anyone who lives in Los Angeles.

Pricing:

  • Home group classes $40/hour/person for groups of 4 or more
  • Home group classes $50/hour/person for groups of 3
  • Private class $80/hour/person for private classes (1 person)
  • Semi-private class $65/hour/person for semi-private classes (2 people)
  • Enrichment Class $25/hr
  • Camp $450 with no discounts applied
Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Carla Blumenkrantz

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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