Assignment: Education – New Spanish Exchange Program
LA CROSSE, Wis. — When learning a foreign language, practice helps develop knowledge.
But studying alongside students from the country whose language you are learning can add more to the experience.
“We have just started our first-ever Spanish exchange,” said Logan High School Spanish teacher Katie Beyer.
This fall, dozens of Spaniards traveled with two of their teachers to live with Logan High School students who take Spanish classes.
“It’s really honestly been like a third brother,” said Logan High School Spanish student Thomas Flottmeyer.
Flottmeyer is one of 20 students who decided to host a Spanish-speaking student.
“It would be really cool if I would be able to influence this person who’s going to stay with me their whole view of America and how great it is here,” said Flottmeyer.
Flottmeyer’s family hosted Ivan Pons during the two week-long exchange.
“I, like, stay with our partner and do soccer and meet with the other friends,” said Pons.
“We’ve shown him American food,” said Flottmeyer. “We took him up to the bluff, played a lot of pingpong, actually.”
The exchange students attend school with the host students, and travel with the families to learn about the Midwest.
“They’ve been learning English,” said Spaniard Cristina Mirtinez. “They’ve been living the American lifestyle, and they say you are awesome, welcoming and warm.”
The exchange will happen when the Logan students travel to Spain in June for two weeks.
“We will be going to Begas, Spain, which is a small town of about 6,000 people outside of Barcelona,” said Beyer.
The idea of the exchange is to give students a full language immersion experience instead of just a trip to a foreign country.
“When we take a trip, we tend to spend a lot of time together as an American group and students aren’t necessarily forced to speak the language all of the time,” said Beyer.
As exchange students, the Logan students will be staying with the same students they hosted in the United States.
“Really, I’ll just be a member of their family, too, hopefully,” said Flottmeyer.
“I think he can have a good time with me,” said Pons.
This experience allows students to be fully immersed into a culture that’s different from their own.
“It gives them opportunity to see the real world, real-life application of their language use and how it’s not just doing or learning something for test and checking it off the list,” said Beyer. “It can actually be useful to travel and learn about other people.”
Teachers also say it’s one of the best experiences a student can have in regard to learning a foreign language.
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