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The UltraViolet

Marlborough School Student Newspaper
The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

To kill a mocking-book
To kill a mocking-book
February 21, 2024

Language classes explore international culture in LA

Meghan+Bernstein+Contributing+Photographer
Meghan Bernstein Contributing Photographer

This November, the Honors Spanish III and Advanced Topics in French and Francophone Culture classes embarked on field trips across Los Angeles to apply what they were learning in class to the real world.

Organized by World Languages Department Head Andrea Fuentes, Dean of Social Justice and Community Partnerships Pamela Wright and Community Partnerships Program Head Javier Espinoza, the Honors Spanish III field trip took place on Nov. 2 in the Pico Union neighborhood, a predominantly Salvadorian- and Oaxacan-speaking area. Only 15 minutes from Marlborough, visiting Pico Union allowed students practice their Spanish-speaking skills with native speakers. 

The field trip was originally planned by Fuentes and Wright to be service-oriented, but when a Pico Union Neighborhood Council senior representative proposed a walking tour of the neighborhood where students could meet leaders who have significantly contributed to the community, Fuentes and Wright decided on the walking tour. Students met Jorge Alvarez from the Pico Union Project and Doña Maria from La 27 Restaurante, a Nicaraguan eatery.

“We want to provide students with an opportunity to expand the walls of Marlborough,” Fuentes said. “Learning doesn’t just happen here, especially language learning. We can take this learning to a different setting in a different context and apply everything that we’ve learned here to that context.”

The field trip also aligned with the unit that Honors Spanish III is currently focusing on: Community and Society.

“It was a really great way to connect and see some sights that I’m not usually exposed to,” Nina ‘27 said. “It was a big learning point, especially since it was all in Spanish. It was not only a chance to see other aspects of the culture, but also to expand my Spanish.”

Field trips in the World Languages Department started up again after hybrid learning during the pandemic, with the Chinese classes who went to the Chinese Consulate in Koreatown, alongside students outside of Marlborough.

Additionally, the Advanced Topics in French and Francophone Culture class went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) on Nov. 7. This year, World Languages Instructor Laura Jensen redesigned the post-AP French class to cover poetry, art, film and literature over four units. Because students have learned about visual arts, during this field trip, students acted as tour guides for their peers and explained art pieces entirely in French. Jensen believed the trip would inspire students, as their final project is to curate their own museum exhibition.

“While I think we do a really good job in the classroom, it’s also a question of do you have the confidence to get outside in the real world and use your language skills with real people?” Jensen said. “It’s a practice exercise in that capacity, and also just to see the different kinds of things you can accomplish in the language is really powerful.”

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