Because we are an international school, Mount Mourne welcomes international students. We recognize language as a vehicle for and representative of ideas and values. Language not only expresses ideas but also helps formulate them. In recognition of the link between culture and language, all teachers allow students to gather information in their mother tongue for use in class activities and on assessments. In class, teachers welcome and reference the use of languages other than English. They also encourage students to compare analogous informational texts to see how language differences can reflect differing cultural perspectives or can reveal the concerns and beliefs of humanity. We seek to provide opportunities for students to use and learn in their mother tongue.
We aim to support the variety of languages that our students not only read and write but also those they understand and to which they are exposed through travel or familial relationships. Therefore, we are developing a survey which will divulge all the languages used in our students’ respective lives, so we can support the needs of each learner. The results of the survey will drive the development of school-wide programs to reflect and support the languages connected with our student body. For example, assemblies will highlight these cultures and their representative languages. Our media specialist is building an international collection to support the use and development of both of our Languages B (French and Spanish) and of other languages spoken by our students. Our fiction section contains stories, as well as primers, translated from English into Spanish and French. A portion of the fiction collection includes International/World authors, so students may study other cultures through their literature. The Nonfiction section Includes books on as many countries as possible including data on culture, languages, and practices.
We are developing a school culture that validates the use of multiple languages and dialects. Language not only transmits knowledge, values, concepts, and perspectives, but it also embodies them. Furthermore, not all ideas have words to express them in Language A. Because of the link between language and culture, we must speak other languages to understand other cultures, and we must understand other cultures in order to communicate with the people in them.
Every Friday at Mount Mourne School, conversations on international issues occur in every classroom. Our principal and teachers cull newspaper articles, web links, photographs, surveys and polls to stimulate discussion and cultural awareness. Our Friday Conversations will include issues reflecting the cultures represented by the languages in our school and may include words from other languages which describe values and concepts outside of the Language A lexicon. Though these conversations originate in the mother tongue, the conversations frequently prompt student inquiry of the languages spoken in other cultures.
In support of both Languages B, the entire school will celebrate Carnaval/Mardi Gras in both Spanish and French. Teachers of all subjects will incorporate terminology from one Language B into their lesson for the day, students will wear masks made in Art class, announcements reflect the festivities and make cultural references, cafeteria menus will be translated into both languages, displays and events will reflect both the cultures of Spain and New Orleans.
On a daily basis, students and staff use multiple languages. Signs throughout our building are written in Spanish, French, and English. Teachers and students greet one another in Spanish and French, as well as English. In each subject area, teachers seek out and include international scenarios and examples in everyday classroom activities. Students view and analyze documentaries about regional cultures and concerns as well as common global concerns such as education and women’s rights. Some of these documentaries are multilingual.
Administrators have scheduled training for teachers in international education. Teachers have already and will continue to receive training on available resources and appropriate methodology. Some programs involve the entire staff. Some teachers will be sent individually to off-site training programs and return as in house resources for the rest of the faculty.
We recognize the need to communicate with parents in a language they can clearly understand. Currently, all parents in our school community communicate effectively in Language A, so we have no immediate need for materials in translation. However, should that situation change, we will have parent and community materials translated into whatever languages parents need.
Finally, to support full language B acquisition, students must remain in their language B choice for the entirety of the program.