Linguistics Love

The World Languages Assembly on Jan. 23 featured three students who talked about their highly diverse summer escapades in foreign nations, and their speeches centered around two common themes: a commitment to helping others and travelling abroad to pursue further language study.

Spanish teacher Jonda Dunck opened up the assembly with a speech that challenged students to “take another look at [their] foreign language experience.”

Despite the programs offered by Hockaday, Dunck said that students sometimes miss the “bigger picture” by being immersed in their studies during the year rather than actively pursuing their foreign language.

By having other students present ways they’ve “taken their foreign studies out of the classroom, out of this school and into the world,” Dunck said, “we want to help [the students] see the world in a new light.”

Everest

Senior Everest, who spent a month last summer building a community center in the Dominican Republic, said she chose a program that combined Spanish immersion and community service in Latin America.

The community in which she worked housed about 500 children, who intermittently helped the volunteers at the construction site. After the sole wheelbarrow broke, the 96 pound bags of cement had to be manually carried up the hill; hammers were built from a piece of wood and stone.

“If you’re worried about going somewhere just because you can’t speak the language, really try to branch out because there are ways to communicate other than just talking,” said Everest.

Abigail

On a scholarship funded by the National Security Language Initiative for Youth, senior Abigail chose to study Korean because of an interest nourished by friends, despite not knowing anything about the language.

“When I went to Korea, I literally knew how to say ‘hello,’ ‘thank-you’ and ‘I love you.’”

But despite her lack of fluency, Abigail said it was “a really beneficial experience because [she] not only got to hear the language 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but [she] could take the lessons [she] learned in class and then use it on the street right then and there.”

“I highly encourage anybody to go and study abroad whether your know the language or not,” said Abigail, “because I did it, and I didn’t know any Korean, and my language skills improved dramatically and I still had a great time.

Marisa

The last speaker, sophomore Marisa also talked about her experiences with Chinese. After various camps and programs, including the Middlebury Language Immersion camp, which requires students to pledge to speak only their target language, Marisa spent a summer at the Beijing National Day School teaching lower school students English.

“It was really cool because their English wasn’t so great, and so my brother and I would have to use Chinese to teach them English,” she said. “Life doesn’t come with subtitles. So whatever language you’re passionate about, really learn it, not just the language but the culture as well. With a translator it’s so hard to just watch.”

After the assembly, sophomore Emily became interested in combining either Chinese or Spanish with community service in a foreign country. It’s better to “enhance the skills that you already have and just delve into something you’re passionate about,” she said.

Interested in joining a program? Check out some of these sites for ideas.

4 Week long Intensive Language Immersion Program hosted by Middlebury College:

http://www.middlebury.edu/ls

Offers various community service programs around the world:

http://www.rusticpathways.com/programs/

Offers volunteer service trips for high school students:

http://www.experiencegla.com/destinations/all3/

Takes high school kids from all across the country into different areas around the world to       do community service:

http://www.globalroots.org/

Spend either 2 or 4 weeks abroad in places such as the southern France, Spain, Italy,             Costa Rica, and China:

http://www.spiabroad.com/

– Laura