Mocktails, Markets and Dance Moves: LAS Language Students Immerse Themselves in Different Cultures!
At LAS, we love celebrating different cultures, traditions, and languages. With over 50 nationalities represented in our community, we believe it’s vital for students and staff to learn about the many cultures they’re surrounded by. We always love finding different ways to incorporate immersion-based learning into our students’ daily lives, whether that’s through the curriculum, cultural trips, or during Faculty Family evenings. Recently, our French and Spanish learners took part in a myriad of fun activities that allowed them to practice their language skills and learn about the cultures of different places!
Each year we take our French learners to Thonon-les-Bains, a beautiful city located on the French shores of Lac Léman. Students are given the opportunity to practice their language skills by going to markets, ordering in restaurants, and visiting landmarks of the area. In the morning, the group explored the weekly open market of the town, where they could use their French language skills in authentic settings and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of the market. Though students practiced their language skills, they also learned an important cultural element of France: going to the local market!
In the afternoon, the group headed to Yvoire, a small medieval town best known for its medieval buildings and summer floral displays, as well as the Jardin des Cinq Sens, a garden in the middle of the fortified walls. Students continued their cultural exploration while enjoying a crêpe or a refreshing ice cream!
Prior to the trip, the students studied topics that aided them in their market purchases. They learned how to talk about quantities, food and drinks, and how to ask for directions to different places in town. This equipped them with the language skills and confidence to immerse themselves in the culture when they arrived! In addition, this day out was followed by a range of activities inside the classroom, where students were able to reflect on what they had learned through role-plays, discussions, letter-writing tasks, and more! Each year, this is a really successful day, as it allows our students to gain confidence in the French language and test their ability to extend classroom learning to real-life settings.
Our Spanish learners are also given the opportunity to immerse themselves in different cultures and practice their skills each year. Last week, Savoy students were taken through a full-day program of activities related to the culture of Spanish-speaking countries. This is the first year we have incorporated this brand-new program into our curriculum, and our students loved taking the time to integrate cultural immersion into their study of the language. Experiential learning is a core component of the curriculum at LAS, as it allows students to see firsthand the real-life applications of their studies.
Students participated in various fun (and sometimes challenging!) activities during this day of workshops. Creative tasks such as hand-making Mandala ojos de Dios (God’s eye mandalas) allowed students to get creative (and ward off evil spirits from their rooms!). This handmade technique taught students how to create a design by weaving yarn around a wooden cross. This tradition is present mainly in Peruvian, Mexican, and other Latin American countries and allows students to learn about the culture while practicing their Spanish language skills through the instructions.
Students were also given the opportunity to taste-test many cultural cuisines during this day of workshops, such as sampling liquid gold: olive oil! This is an essential part of the Mediterranean diet, and by means of smell and taste, students engaged in a qualitative evaluation of the sensory characteristics of each oil. Students established the winner among a range of extra virgin olive oils! Students also discovered all the secrets to making rich and tasty bread without additives with its three essential ingredients: flour, water, and salt. These essential foods are a staple to many Latin American and Mediterranean cuisines, allowing students to delve further into different cultures.
A student favorite from the day was a mojito mocktail-making class! We shared a little piece of Caribbean culture with one of Cuba’s most famous drinks, and students loved learning the perfect combination of ingredients for this drink. It was easy to understand how the beautiful island’s history, climate, and people brought one of the most popular drinks in the world. This masterclass was such a refreshing way to spend the afternoon!
In the afternoon, our students were lucky enough to learn the art of Flamenco! This traditional dance is a big part of Spanish culture, and our students were taught by Michelle Gagnaux, an accomplished and passionate Flamenco dancer better known as La Burbaja. Michelle learned her skills from the great artists of southern Spain and shared her knowledge and skills with our community. Seeing her perform was such a treat, and our students loved giving it a go!
Our students loved getting out of their seats and participating in these hands-on activities that allowed them to access their creativity and move their bodies! Learning through experience is an area of our curriculum that we love, as we believe it helps students learn by incorporating their studies into different areas of their lives. Students loved learning about Hispanic cultures and can’t wait to use their new skills in the future! Bien hecho! or, well done, to our Savoy Spanish students!