Si! Oui! Sic!
Watching gestures, listening for tone
AP Spanish students sit in groups of four, speaking animatedly in Spanish. The prompt is written in Spanish on the white board: If you could speak to someone who is no longer alive, who would it be and why. Sentences come out in rushes, as juniors and seniors talk about Elvis, a grandparent and Henry Kissinger, which sparked debate because he's still alive!
The students’ smiles showed how good it is to be back. Not only did these juniors and seniors do Spanish 3 and 4 mostly wearing masks, almost a year was spent speaking Spanish on Zoom.
Senora Brooke Pennica stops in at each group, asking questions in fast and fluid Spanish. The students pay attention to her tone of voice, gestures and body language to catch the complete meaning before responding.
Conversations in Spanish
fortes fortuna iuvat
weaving history into language lessons
A few classrooms over, Latin teacher Matt Knittel takes his students into the hallway to talk about the phrase they’ll walk under each time they enter his classroom: fortes fortuna iuvat, which means fortune favors the bold. He weaves history into the language lesson, sharing the story of Pliny the Younger quoting his uncle, Pliny the Elder, when deciding to take his fleet and investigate the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
Knittel is thrilled to be teaching in person, without a mask. Beyond students seeing his facial muscles as he speaks Latin, he notes that, for him, seeing each other’s faces helps create a stronger connection between student and teacher, a fundamental part of education.
“It feels like school again,” said Knittel.
Expressing ideas and feelings
Across the hall, AP French students are talking about the music video 'N'y pense plus' by Tayc that they’ve just watched as a class; it's a song about love and loss. Madame Henriette Kutscher asks students about their goals for the future.
“They really share a lot about their feelings and their views of the world,” said Madame Kutscher, “topics that require sophisticated vocabulary and sentence structure.”
“It’s important for them to see my mouth and my expressions … and for me to see theirs,” said Kutscher.” “This year, we can also hear each other’s voices more clearly. Plus, it’s so much more fun!