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About Us - The Language School

Why The Language School?

Our teaching is based on sound educational research. The Rolfini Method combines various approaches, including the Montessori Method; multiple intelligences; auditory training; making thinking visible; and interactive, relevant play-based learning.

At The Language School, students are active and engaged. Based in part on Maria Montessori’s sensorial exercises, our curriculum encourages students to explore language and their environment through the senses.1 Coaching and advising as needed, the teacher remains on the sidelines as students speak with one another in the target language.

Our school also makes use of the research of Harvard professor Howard Gardner, who  advocates looking beyond traditional methods of measuring a child’s IQ. Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences, identifying eight methods by which humans process information: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist.2 Among other things, Gardner’s research explains why so many children are now often mislabeled with Attention-Deficit Disorder.3

The Language School teaches foreign languages taking into consideration Gardner’s eight methods. Students use their linguistic intelligence in conversing, writing short notes, and listening to the sounds of language. Our school stimulates students’ logical-mathematical intelligence by introducing grammatical concepts as simple patterns, classifications, and relationships. Students also use their spatial intelligence by applying colors, symbols, and shapes to understand grammatical rules. We encourage our students to use their bodily-kinesthetic intelligence by using movement to learn vocabulary and by engaging in role playing. Students’ musical intelligence is ignited when vocabulary is introduced with rhythm and tone. Interpersonal intelligence is engaged when students perceive their peers’ facial features, voices, and gestures 

during role play. We videotape our students so that they can assess themselves. Such self-assessment encourages their intrapersonal intelligence. To awaken students’ naturalist intelligence, teachers bring students outside to explore nature or, during inclement weather, bring part of nature inside for interactive lessons.

The ability to access students’ multiple intelligences is particularly relevant to teachers who experience a difficult time trying to “reach” a student. Many teachers and education researchers are coming to realize that there are multiple ways to think and learn. With that in mind, instead of focusing on standardized examinations, The Language School uses various methods of assessment.4 We encourage our students to think creatively, use divergent thinking, make their thinking visible,5 use thinking routines,6 collaborate with their peers, and use proven methods to recall the target language.7

At The Language School, we expose our students to various speakers of each target language we offer. As a result, students will hear a wide array of words and situational phrases spoken in a variety of regional accents. Auditory training is an effective method of learning a foreign language8 and a critical component of language acquisition.9 In addition, our experienced native teachers introduce students to relevant foreign media and explain cultural customs, traditions, and idiomatic expressions that are seamlessly interwoven within a language.

Most important, our classes are fun! Studies indicate that our brains are more responsive to learning through play.10 People who learn through games acquire information more rapidly than through traditional teaching.11 The Language School creates age-appropriate, interactive, situational role-playing games in order to actively engage and challenge students. In addition, we reinforce conversational skills through bimonthly language socials led by our trained teachers at local restaurants and cafes. Come join us and unpack your possibilities!.

1 Montessori Primary Guide, Introduction to Sensorial, “Montessori categorized the exercises into eight different groups: visual, tactile, baric, thermic, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, and stereognostic.” http://www.infomontessori.com/sensorial/introduction.htm

2 Gardner, Howard. Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice. New York: Basic, 1993.

3 Thomas Armstrong. Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, 3rd Ed., “Many of these kids, in fact, end up being labeled “learning disabled,” “ADD (attention deficit disorder,” or simply underachievers, when their unique ways of thinking and learning aren’t addressed by a heavily linguistic or logical-mathematical classroom.” http://www.institute4learning.com/multiple_intelligences.php

4 Sir Ken Robinson, “Changing Education Paradigms,” TED Talk, http://www.institute4learning.com/multiple_intelligences.php

5 Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, Karin Morrison, Making Thinking Visible (2011)

6 Harvard Graduate School of Education, Project Zero, Thinking Routines, http://www.pz.harvard.edu/projects/visible-thinking

7 Peter Brown, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

8 The Scientific American, “How To Teach Old Ears New Tricks,” by Gabriel Wyner on July 1, 2014

9 The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, “Accent-independent adaptation to foreign accented speech,” by Melissa M. Baese-Berk, 2013 Mar; 133(3): EL174–EL180, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3579861/

10 Arthur Glenberg on July 22, 2014, Scientific American, “How Acting Out In School Boosts Learning, Insights from embodied cognition.”

10 Ibid.

“She creatively recreates real life situations with props and integrates responsive interactive methods so that students are immediately required to utilize vocabulary and phrases repeatedly in the appropriate context”.

Karen Rolfini-Beckenstein

President and Founder

Karen is a native Spanish speaker. She grew up  immersed in the Latin culture with a Colombian mother and an Italian father, speaking both languages.

Raised by a Colombian mother and Italian father, Karen grew up speaking both Spanish and Italian. Karen spent many childhood summers with her family in Colombia and Venezuela, becoming a Spanish speaker of native proficiency at an early age. Her parents also learned languages but with very different approaches. Karen’s mother learned English by taking night classes. Her accent was very thick, and she struggled speaking in everyday conversations. Her father, on the other hand, viewed learning a language as a hobby. He would listen to shortwave radio programs and practice speaking any chance he got. Eventually, he could converse in six languages.

Karen’s Italian grandmother, who taught herself Spanish while living in Venezuela, told Karen, “You can study how to swim, but you will only learn how to swim when you get in the water. The same thing applies to languages—just speak it and you will learn from your mistakes.”  Karen adopted the approaches of her father and grandmother as she traveled extensively throughout Mexico, Central America, South America, and Europe. She has always seen learning a language as an intuitive, interactive, and fun process, thus the Rolfini Method.

Karen was formally trained as a language teacher by Berlitz Language Schools in 1987 while a student at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. After graduating from Trinity, Karen enrolled in language immersion courses in Paris and Florence. Upon returning to the United States, Karen used her Spanish while working for an international investment firm and later as an attorney. Karen has extensive experience counseling and working with children and adults alike. Karen has, for example, created workshops and counseled law students in the areas of career choice, diversity, and cultural differences at St. Mary’s University School of Law and Pace University School of Law.

After becoming a mother in 2004, Karen fully turned her attention towards education. After receiving an Early Childhood Credential from the American Montessori Society in 2006, she began teaching young children at a Montessori School. In 2009 she successfully completed the Diversity Program of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). She taught Spanish for Beginners and Spanish for Health Care Providers at Western Connecticut State University. Since 2007 Karen has taught at the Wooster School at all levels from Lower School beginning Spanish to AP classes offered at the Upper School. In addition, Karen served as Director of Diversity at Wooster for several years.

Since 2011, Karen has taught Spanish for Health Care Providers and Beginning Italian for the continuing education program of the Ridgefield Public Schools. Karen also began private tutoring, teaching Spanish to teens from Ridgefield High School, St. Mary’s School, Wilton High School, and Horace Greeley High School. Working with Kids in Crisis, a non-profit organization, Karen taught vocational Spanish to adults, tailoring a class for its employees on how to effectively communicate with the Hispanic population during a crisis.

All her varied experience inspired Karen to found The Language School. Located in Fairfield, Connecticut, the school specializes in customized Spanish classes for all vocations to communicate with the every growing Hispanic population. English for business employees will also be available. In addition, The Language School will offer private, semi-private, and group classes in Fairfield and Westchester counties in various other languages for students of all ages.

Karen Rolfini-Beckenstein.


Do you need a Language School

At The Language School Our classes are focused on: Professionals, Executives, Business Owners, Retirees, Students, Children and Teenagers.

Success Story

I had the pleasure of learning from Karen Rolfini-Beckenstein for three of my five levels of high school Spanish. After my freshman year, Karen taught me my third level of grammatical Spanish over the summer so that I could advance to more literature-based classes earlier in my high school career. During that summer, we covered tough grammatical concepts such as forms of past tense and subjunctive, and built my vocabulary and fluency through one-on-one conversation. This individual study consisted of some homework assignments and readings I completed on my own, as well as in-person meetings and conversations with Karen to ensure that I understood the concepts and could take course quizzes and tests to evaluate my progress. When I returned to Karen’s class for AP Spanish 5 as a junior, I already knew that her teaching style was great for me; in the classroom, she continued to maintain the feeling of familiarity and individual attention that I had received in my independent study, but I had the advantage of full class discussions with my peers to help my fluency develop. AP Spanish was one of my first exposures to Spanish and Latin American literature, and thanks to the excitement and energy that she brought to the coursework, along with the in-depth discussions and assignments that helped tackle complex texts, I developed a great love and appreciation for Spanish literature that I still have today. This was also my first exposure to an academic expectation of full engagement in the language during class in order to own the vocabulary and grammatical concepts that are inevitably learned through constant practice. I therefore felt well prepared to continue to Spanish 6, a higher level literature class beyond AP, in which we explored literature and films to gain further cultural and historical understanding of Spanish-speaking communities while practicing fluency in speaking and writing skills.

After graduation from high school, I took a gap year and travelled and worked in different countries, including three months with a family in rural Costa Rica. This was the first time I was fully immersed in a Spanish-speaking environment and able to use the concepts I learned in Karen’s classes in a real world context. As a current junior at Skidmore College, I feel I could not have made better use of my Spanish education with Karen. I am now a double-major in Spanish and Anthropology, with a focus on women’s rights in Latin America and the cultural practices that inform them. Thanks to my strong Spanish background, I was allowed to skip all grammar levels of Spanish upon coming to college and immediately begin literature and culture classes, where I have learned everything from Cervantes’s Don Quixote to the contemporary uses of Spanish in social media. I am currently preparing to study abroad next semester in Bolivia on a cultural anthropology program that focuses on the expressions of social change and globalization in Latin America. I will be taking courses in Spanish and living in a homestay with a Spanish-speaking family, as well as conducting an independent research project on the access to women’s health care in Bolivia’s many vibrant  indigenous populations.

I have no doubt that I owe not only my language skills, but also a great deal of my cultural and sociological interests that were so often explored in the classroom, to my years studying with Karen Rolfini-Beckenstein. She is a uniquely compassionate and challenging instructor that developed my skills of critical thinking and cross-cultural understanding while teaching me the confidence and intellectuality required to master a second language. I have nothing but high regard for this invaluable teacher in my life, and would highly recommend anyone to explore another language under Karen’s skilled and thoughtful guidance.


Lisa Moran (Wooster School ‘12, Skidmore College ‘17)

I took AP Spanish 5 with Karen Rolfini-Beckenstein, and had a truly memorable year immersing myself, along with my classmates, in the nuances of the Spanish language. Mrs. Rolfini-Beckenstein was great at inspiring us to practice our conversational skills by inviting lively classroom discussion. She made the language colorful by introducing us to Magical Realism, which particularly captured my imagination and helped to connect vocabulary with a richer understanding of the culture that uses it. She has infectious energy; I recommend her highly as a teacher.

Though I no longer use Spanish daily, I enjoy speaking Spanish on occasion and find myself translating Spanish advertencias y avisos regularly!


Me gustó mucho el formato, en mi caso requería de aprender un curso profesional vocacional, Karen identificó los trucos y mis necesidades para un aprendizaje rápido y ajustado a mis necesidades.

Recomiendo The Language School sin dudas.

I recently met a family from Mexico City readjusting to a new move to Fairfield County. Thanks to your Spanish for First Responders class, I felt confident and equipped to introduce myself to the family, tell them how Kids in Crisis is a vital resource for them and our community, and direct them to our website and hotline if they ever needed assistance.  I gained so much from practicing with you and others regularly in our fun and challenging class! ¡Gracias por  tu ayuda! 


My name is Marcus Levy and I live and work in México City for a civil association known as Casa de los Amigos that provides support to migrants seeking refugee status in addition to its efforts to engage the community in struggles for social justice. Thus Spanish is not only an integral part of my work, but a necessity for survival in daily life. Every day I rely on what my several Spanish teachers have taught me over the years, and for this, I am grateful to each one.

Mrs. Rolfini-Beckenstein (or Rolf-Beck) came into my life during my last years of high school when I took AP Spanish. Each coffee fueled lesson was filled with energy as she encouraged us to repeat words over and over to become more accustomed to forming the different sounds. But our lessons were filled with more than just vocabulary. Rolf-Beck understood that learning a language was more than just memorizing new sounds; learning a new language also means embracing the culture as well. So we also read works like Federico García Lorca’s Yerma to achieve a deeper understanding.

I look back on my time in Rolf-Beck’s classroom very fondly and am very grateful for all the help she has given on my journey into the Spanish language.

I took a Medical Spanish class with Karen and learned SO much!  I had previously tried to learn from books and software programs.  However, none of those work.  Despite having a full-time job, and despite being the mom of two children, I decided to make the time commitment and attend a lecture.  And what a great decision it was!  I felt welcome from the moment I walked into Karen’s classroom.  She has a very engaging style of teaching.  No sitting through hours of boring lectures, as many of us did during language classes in high-school.  Her classes are informative and entertaining as well.  I even became friends with some of the other students.  And most importantly it improved my medical Spanish to the point where I am comfortable speaking with my patients without an interpreter.  Two thumbs up for Karen!

Karen Beckenstein has provided excellent Spanish tutoring services for several years for two of our daughters.  We consider her teaching to be of the highest caliber, as she brings her multi-faceted expertise, dynamic personality, and positive energy with her during each and every lesson.  

Mrs. Beckenstein’s approachability and charisma, combined with her professional credentials, makes her the perfect match for our Spanish tutoring needs. She makes every encounter not only enjoyable for our daughters, but also effective in style and content.  

Every lesson is individualized to the student’s current needs, and she engages with them during each lesson in a way that validates their strengths while building on their individual learning modalities, and developing them in areas in which they are struggling.

It is not uncommon for her and our daughters to be learning and laughing at the same time!  

The bottom line is that Mrs. Beckenstein gets the job done through positivity….and our children’s Spanish grades have improved quickly and significantly. Finding the perfect tutor is rare, but we found her!  Mrs. Beckenstein is one of the best teachers of ANY subject I have ever encountered.  She will certainly be as valuable and enjoyable for a variety of students and families for years to come.

Karen taught me how to speak, read, and write in Spanish with relative ease, even for someone who isn’t great at languages! But it was more than just the language. Karen shared cultural and practical knowledge about the Latin world, stemming from a desire to educate her students in an all-encompassing manner.

I always looked forward to coming to Spanish class because it was fun, energetic, and productive. Karen understands that a balance of both being productive and having fun in the classroom is needed for students to maintain real interest in the subject at hand, letting them excel. I would highly recommend Karen as a teacher for anyone wanting to learn Spanish because of her comprehensive and well-balanced approach.


Asistí a las clases de Karen, me parece que su método es increíble. Utilizando situaciones cotidianas te obligas a aprender un idioma o por lo menos a defenderte en situaciones triviales, lo recomendaría. Su estilo y formato de trabajo garantiza el aprendizaje en un corto tiempo. Muchas gracias!

My daughter is presently a fifth grade student at Wooster School in Danbury, CT. Mrs. Karen Rolfini-Beckenstein has been her Spanish teacher since first grade.

Karen’s teaching approach is extremely fun and engaging.

Children are involved in conversation through various methods: “See, Think and Wonder”, games (“I Spy”), role play (“Talk Show Host”, “At the Doctor’s Office”,” Negotiating at the Market”, “In the Restaurant”, etc.), singing, and last but not least interacting with their special classroom friend, “Coqui”.

Children also read and write in Spanish while Karen emphasizes Spanish intricacies in grammar and punctuation and gives them reading strategies.

My daughter’s favorite part of the class is when they are exposed to cultural experiences from Spanish speaking countries all over the world through observation, comparison, and their own research. They learn about their geography, history, food, customs, traditions, art, music, dance, Andalusian horses, fashion, sports, and architecture. They even had a flamenco demonstration in the classroom and observed Venezuelan landscape and the Angel Falls through Google Earth! They celebrate Cinco de Mayo every year and learn about the importance of this Mexican holiday and why it is celebrated in the United States.

My daughter has been blessed with an amazing learning experience in Mrs. Beckenstein’s classroom.


I took Spanish for Medical Professionals with Karen Beckenstein. I had  no previous background in Spanish and Karen made the class fun and enjoyable. Her enthusiasm is contagious! She has great tips and tricks for remembering vocabulary. I was excited by how much I was able to learn in a short amount of time and have continued to take two more sessions of the class with Karen. Because of Karen’s excellent teaching my, ability to communicate with Spanish speaking patients has improved significantly. She’s terrific!

“Karen helped me hone my Spanish abilities over the course of a few months and was an indispensable resource. Each session was immersive and challenging but also thoroughly enjoyable, and Karen’s approach allowed me to gain a comprehensive understanding of the language, one that was practical for both commonplace conversation and reading/writing. I highly recommend Karen as a teacher for anyone, whether you are a beginner just getting started, or an advanced student looking to sharpen your skills.”

“My daughter is a special education teacher with many Hispanic students. She wanted to be able to increase her communication with both her students and their families. I wanted to start to learn Spanish.

We were referred to Karen Rolfini Beckenstein, who created a completely personalized summer program for us. Through discussion with us, she determined what my daughter’s needs were in the classroom and chose phrases and vocabulary that were amazingly on point. Karen’s teaching style is like no other. Speaking only in Spanish, she introduces and uses Spanish words and phrases – and with her unique and humorous dramatic style, clarifies completely their meaning and pronunciation. She also uses pictures, drawings, physicalises words, and provides engaging and lively verbal interaction. She continually checked with us to be sure we understood what she was teaching. She was so encouraging and gave us the confidence that we could learn Spanish! Each session was carefully structured – and was so much fun. Karen is a brilliant teacher and can be counted on to fulfill any student’s needs completely and delightfully.”