The first ever World Language Day in the Middle School treated students to six full-day field trips, cultural immersion, and hands-on practice.
World language faculty carefully crafted excursions in which everyone involved spoke in the target language, hearing from and conversing with staff in the museums, cultural centers, markets, restaurants, embassies, and neighborhoods they visited.
“I hope that the boys were able to gain knowledge and appreciation for the cultural practices, products, and perspectives of French society during the eighteenth century through their field trip to Hillwood Estate,” Middle School French Teacher Adele Xu said.
Xu’s students toured the grounds and exhibits, participated in a scavenger hunt in French and experienced a multi-course French luncheon.
Latin Students went to Walters Art Museum in Baltimore and the Baltimore Art Museum for an in-depth look at Roman antiquities.
“The activities and tasks that I planned for them involved interpreting Latin clues to navigate the two museums that we visited and thinking and writing about artifacts in Latin. I also created mixed groups so that students from all three grade levels could work together and get to know each other,” Middle School Latin Teacher Tom Drescher explained.
Grade 8 Spanish students started their day learning about salsa dancing and taking salsa lessons. They ate lunch at the Spanish Diner where they explored traditional foods.
Grade 7 Spanish students went to Mount Pleasant to learn the history of the area, the story behind its murals, and the role the neighborhood played for immigrants fleeing political turmoil. Afterwards, they headed to the Mexican Cultural Institute for a tour, presentation, and activity.
Grade 6 Spanish students focused on El Salvadorian Culture. They began their day on campus with an exploration of vocabulary, texts, and videos for an introduction. Afterwards, they attended a pupusa making workshop and lunch at a Landon family owned and operated restaurant called El Tamarindo.
Students studying Chinese began their day with an exploration of a traditional Chinese market, dined at Q by Peter Chang tasting a specially prepared menu, and then finished the day participating in a Bubble Tea making workshop.
Drescher and Xu agree, cultural experiences like this are crucial for language learning.
"They give students an opportunity to use the language that they are studying out in the real world for practical purposes, and to communicate with other speakers of the language besides their teacher or classmates.” Drescher said. “Our students were able to use their Latin in non-classroom settings, and it was energizing (I hope!) for them to visit museum exhibits that relate directly to the historical and cultural content of our Latin program.”
“Field trips like this can help students develop critical thinking skills and a broader perspective on the world. They can also learn to appreciate the beauty and creativity of different art forms, which can help foster an appreciation for cultural diversity,” Xu said.