Nottingham Students Practice Language Skills, Learn to Be Cultural Ambassadors
Published on 5/26/17
District News Academics Nottingham High School
Once a week after school, Nottingham Spanish teacher Lisa Crowell’s classroom fills with the sound of French and Spanish. As the Orange and Blue Ambassadors Language Exchange group meets, students practice their conversational language skills by discussing a weekly topic such as travel, family members and the news – in a language they are working to learn.
Part of a grant funded by the SCSD Educational Foundation, Ms. Crowell formed the program with the intention of bringing together English as a New Language (ENL) students and native English speakers. Together, she imagined the students taking part in facilitated language practice, while also getting to know each other and the various cultures represented in the school.
Junior Melanie Anaya, a native Spanish speaker, said the club has been a good way to develop her third language. “It’s helped me better communicate with people in French, which is what I’m trying to learn.”
Freshman Patrick Hunt said the group is a nice change of pace from classroom instruction. “My Spanish teacher told me I should join,” he said. “It’s really helped me learn Spanish, because we’re talking to each other rather than just reading like we would in class.”
“In class, we don’t usually have extended dialogue… this is more conversational,” Greg Hartman agreed.
With Ms. Crowell and French teacher Leonard Kuci helping prompt the students or assisting when students get stuck, meetings take place almost entirely in languages other than English.
“It gives our foreign language speakers real experience, and we’re tapping into the resources we have right here in our school,” Ms. Crowell explained of the group’s benefits.
“In class, they’re usually worried about grammar and proper language use,” Mr. Kuci added. “Here, there’s nothing to worry about – it’s all for fun!”
As part of the grant, the Language Exchange group is also able to take several field trips. As a team-building activity, students went ice skating midway through the year. They also visited a downtown Syracuse restaurant, Biscotti’s, where they took part in a cooking challenge – receiving directions in a foreign language to challenge them to practice their skills. This is one of 20 projects funded by the SCSD Educational Foundation in 14 schools this year, totaling $53,000. Thank you for the continued support!