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Sharing the Love of Learning a Language

 students showing italian on a projection screen to 5th grade students sittingSomers High School French and Italian language students visited fifth-grade classes throughout March, sharing what it’s like to learn a new language.

“Don’t be intimidated about learning a new language,” advised Chloe Groarke. “It can be scary when you first start, but once you begin to understand it, it’s really fun.”

“Learning the same language at the same time helps connect you to others,” said Chloe Pietrangolare. “Remembering the basics and learning so many new things is challenging, but we work together and kind of help each other out along the way.”

 students showing italian on a projection screen to 5th grade students sittingHigh school students, organized into groups of four to six, were given language lesson slides and then had to decide how best to convey the information to the younger students at Somers Intermediate School. The presentations helped introduce the fifth graders to the choices they have for learning a language starting in middle school. Students in Somers study a language for three years in middle school and at least two years in high school. Some students take language for all four years in high school. There is also the option to take an additional language class in their junior or senior year as an elective.

“It’s interesting to see the progression we’ve made now compared to what we were doing in seventh and eighth grade,” said Sienna DeMarinis. “Learning a language is a great gateway to opening yourself up to new ideas and types of cultures.”

“It could also help you career-wise,” added Mario Mancini. “If you’re applying for a job, being fluent in another language could make you more qualified than other candidates.”

 students showing French on a projection screen to 5th grade students sittingPresentations were approximately twenty minutes long and included a variety of learning aids such as vocabulary about destinations in France and Italy, foods specific to each country and culture, videos, songs, and engaging activities.

“It was up to us to make it a lesson, make it fun for the students, and make it interesting,” said Jesse Manginelli. “Figuring out what to say to the students and how to keep them engaged and entertained was challenging, but it was also a lot of fun.”

After their presentations, students answered questions about what it was like taking a language in school, and what they enjoyed about the experience. They spoke about the different parties they hold in class that celebrate the language with music and foods from the culture they are studying. Students also take field trips for cultural experiences. For example, senior Italian students recently took a trip to New York City for a pasta-making class.

“We went on the train into the city together. It felt like we were a family,” said Angelica Salinas. “We made the pasta then we ate together, family-style.”

High school students also shared information about the chance to visit other countries with Tusker Travels. While students do not need to be enrolled in a language class to take part in a trip, students who are in language classes gain an extra opportunity to strengthen their understanding of the languages they’ve been studying, experience different cultures, and make memories with their schoolmates.

“I’ve been to Italy with my family,” said Sienna. “I could hold a conversation pretty well, which made me very proud.”

“I have an Italian family and interact with other Italians who don’t speak much English,” said Jesse. “I didn’t realize how much this class would help me hold conversations with my grandparents.”