The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 16, 2014

GV World Language Club members use fun activities to introduce elementary students to foreign languages

For the Star Beacon

ORWELL — As time progresses, more and more schools are making the decision to offer foreign language courses in order to prepare students for the many cultures they will experience upon their entrance into the real world. Grand Valley, however, has taken the initiative to begin that process even earlier.

The World Language Club, pioneered by Grand Valley French teacher Sherry McCaslin and Grand Valley Spanish teacher Linc Jerome, established a program dedicated to enlightening students of the elementary school by using what the high school students learn in class. Any student that is currently taking a foreign language course, or has done so in the past, may join the club. At the first meeting, all positions of leadership for the small, friendly group of forward thinkers are voted on by their peers and then approved by supervisors McCaslin and Jerome.

Over the course of the year, the students involved in the organization will volunteer their time after school to prepare fun learning activities for the students they plan to teach. “It's a lot of work, both in school and out,” said senior LeeAnn Maruna.

Some of these activities effectively utilize the newly acquired Smart Boards in the elementary. One such activity was a matching game designed to teach the students body parts in French and Spanish. The students were called to the board and were able to choose whichever body part they wanted to know. The French and Spanish name appeared, and the process continued until the entire body had been reviewed. Another learning activity that the students greatly enjoyed was a game of “Simon Says.” The students all competed against each other, and the winners had their bodies traced onto a diagram, labeled in French and Spanish, and were able to take their prize home.

“Of course, they loved that,” said Maruna. “Their faces just lit up! They were all so excited. They reminded me of kids in a candy shop. Seeing them like that... That's what makes this all worth it for me.”

The World Language Club does these teaching activities once a month, or nine times a year – quite a bit of work for a group of young students. Senior member and Student Council president Samantha White said that preparation is the toughest part.

“There's just so much going on at once. So many conflicting extracurricular activities, after-school jobs...” White said. “But somehow, we always manage to pull it off!”

Aside from preparations for monthly elementary teachings, the World Language Club works to simultaneously raise funds in such endeavors as well as involve the high school students. In the weeks before Halloween, candy bars were sold and delivered to students. Before Christmas, a similar process allowed for the delivery of candy canes. Similarly, on Sweetest Day, carnations are delivered to designated students.

For one week of each school year called World Language Week, lunches are given a theme from a country, and a slide-show of facts is displayed on an overhead screen to inform students of information concerning the country of the day. At the end of each slide-show, a game of trivia is played, and those who answer the questions correctly may submit their answers for a variety of prizes. Through hard work and dedication, the Grand Valley World Language Club attempts to educate the students of their district by exposing them to the many different cultures present in our country.

Senior Austin Overburger, a three-year veteran of the World Language Club, expressed satisfaction in the results, saying, "The kids really seem to enjoy everything we are teaching them. I can tell because they always remember the lessons we taught them from over a month ago."