Column: Exchange trips enrich learning

The Newtonite

[media-credit name=”Emma Hanselman” align=”alignnone” width=”300″][/media-credit]

French teacher Suzanne Putzeys, students on the French exchange and their exchange students pose for a photo.

by Connor Vasu

Imagine living with a different family for three weeks and on top of that, imagine that the family speaks exclusively in rapid Chinese. Learning Chinese could never be more daunting, yet more gratifying.

Exchange trips enrich students’ knowledge of a foreign language while immersing them fully in a new culture.

This school has an incredible World Language Department, and the exchange trips it runs can only add to students’ knowledge of another country’s language and culture.

Learning from books and speaking in a foreign language for only an hour each day can make it hard to retain that language. In addition, in the summer, students often do not speak a foreign language, leading to a loss of knowledge.

Three-week school-sponsored Italian, French and Spanish exchange trips run annually. In addition, the school sponsored a semester-long Chinese exchange trip. The only school-sponsored way to be fully immersed in a foreign culture and language is to participate in one of these exchange trip.

In the foreign country, students stay with a host family who speaks in the foreign language exclusively, meaning the student has to catch on quickly and must speak in that foreign language in order to communicate effectively.

In school, culture cannot be taught like it can be on exchange trips. In France, for example, an exchange trip participant can learn the differences and similarities between France and the United States just by walking around Paris. Textbooks can present the information in pictures and words, but they cannot show the culture in vivid three dimensions.

If a student has financial difficulties, the Global Leadership Education Fund can cover some of the cost of the exchange trip, so these opportunities are available for all students.

Exchange trips are wonderful opportunities to immerse students in a foreign culture and language while opening up a new perspective on their exchange country and the United States itself.