World Language Students Learn About Languages and the World

French+students+practice+the+skills+that+they+learn+in+class+by+describing+their+ideal+homes+in+an+art+project.

Sarane James

French students practice the skills that they learn in class by describing their ideal homes in an art project.

Bronx Science is known for many things, such as its eight Nobel Laureates, its competitive science and math research programs, and the prestigious list of alumni in its Hall of Fame. What our school is less known for is the diversity of languages taught here. While most schools in New York City only offer Spanish as a world language, Bronx Science also offers classes in Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, Latin, and occasionally Korean and Greek.

Investing in teaching so many different languages has paid off. Results from the “Science Survey World Language Questionnaire,” which was recently sent out to the study body through Naviance e-mail, reveal that about 62% of current Bronx Science students enjoy the world language class they are taking, and about 54% of students believe they are approaching a conversational ability in their language. Another 21% believe they are already at a conversational ability. Many students attribute this success to their teachers.

The majority of students at Bronx Science say they are at least somewhat conversational the World Language class that they take.

“My teacher, Ms. Arcidiacono,  is very helpful, and if I don’t understand a concept, then she will take the time to explain it to me! The activities that we do in class are very interactive and fun. We even play a game of Kahoot before exams, which helps me to de-stress and to remember important information,” said Tenzin Dadak ’21, a French student. Kahoot is a favorite game amongst World Language teachers, as it tests students’ knowledge of the language under pressure while still maintaining a fun atmosphere. Because of Ms. Arcidiacono’s teaching, Dadak can now construct sentences and form questions in French with ease. Some also believe that the enthusiasm of their peers helps to keep them engaged. Interactions with classmates and teachers also help to solidify material learned in class.

“Mr. Qiu is funny, so he makes the class engaging.”

“I know a lot of the people in my class, and Mr. Qiu is funny, so he makes the class engaging. If he wasn’t as entertaining, I would probably not be as interested in Mandarin,” said Xiao Ling Zeng ’19, a Mandarin Chinese student.

Bronx Science’s investment in World Language classes has paid off, with the majority of students enjoying the language that they take.Audrey Hill ’20 cited a love of “learning about language and new ways of thinking about the world.” The deeper level of understanding others that a new language gives her is one of the reasons why she and many of her peers enjoy coming to class each day.

For others still, the opportunity to study a new language at all is a privilege. “I appreciate the fact that I am able to learn a new language in great detail, seeing as I’m probably one of the only monolingual students in this school,” Juliet Daniel ’21 said. In reality, Daniel is not alone, since almost a quarter of the students at Bronx Science are monolingual.

More than 75% of Bronx Science students also believe it is important to learn about the culture behind their second language.

“Culture is the people’s way of life. To take part in something as huge as a people’s language, it is important to know their way of life and the origins of their work so as to give the language and the people the respect that they deserve,” Akunna Njoku ’21 said.

Yi Lan Zhang ’20 agreed, saying, “The reason that we study a world language is to communicate well. That requires more than a strong vocabulary set and grammar structure knowledge. By learning the culture, we get to know what actions are acceptable or unacceptable in countries where people speak that language.” Understanding the culture behind a language adds an additional meaning to the words students are taught, and makes learning that language more worthwhile.

Most students at Bronx Science agree that understanding the culture behind a language is just as important as knowing how to speak it.

Overall, Bronx Science students are grateful for the chance to understand and connect with other people through their World Language Department classes. Engaging teachers, thorough lessons on culture, and enthusiastic classmates makes for an effective World Language Department at Bronx Science. Most importantly, Bronx Science students agree that having access to varied world language classes is definitely worth the investment.

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