In a typical school year, this is the time in the trimester when MICDS sixth graders participate in Passport Day. Passport Day, as described by JK-12 World Languages Department Chair and Upper School Spanish Teacher Patrick Huewe, “is an event at MICDS for sixth grade students that takes place during the school day and gives kids a chance to experience our languages while getting their homemade passports stamped at each stop.” This year, the World Languages Department worked hard to transform this experience into a virtual format.
In the past week, our current sixth grade families and rising seventh graders who are joining us in the fall viewed videos that gave an overview of each of the four languages offered at MICDS: Mandarin Chinese, French, Latin and Spanish. By the end of this week, students decided which language to take in 7th grade.
At MICDS, we consider the study of world languages to be a critical component of our JK-12 curriculum and an essential element in our graduates’ preparation for life beyond our campus. Language study prepares MICDS students for the opportunities and challenges they will face in an increasingly global 21st-century world. We value all of the languages we offer equally because each of them has inherent qualities that foster cognitive development, cultural awareness, global competency and communication skills.
Students started the process of their world language decision journey by submitting their top three language choices and explaining their interest in each one in a Google form. With limited space in each language, students consider three options that they would potentially enjoy. “We do our best to place students in either their first or second choice of language,” shares Huewe. “We would only consider a third choice of language in extreme circumstances in which demand is unusually high for a particular language in a given year.”
Conducted in a virtual setting this year, Passport Day 2020 had similarities and differences compared to the typical event. The registration process was exactly the same as a normal school year; students made their selections with guidance from their 6th grade Spanish teachers and consulted with their parents to complete the form from home. Conversely, although students didn’t get to “visit countries” and get their passports stamped this year as they do traditionally, teachers created videos which highlighted the experiences of each language taught to provide a comprehensive profile of the languages we offer and some of the experiences they would have in each one throughout their time at MICDS. Check out the videos below!
Which language would you pick if you were in the shoes of our sixth graders? Read some of the reasons why students placed one of the respective languages as their top choice!
- Spanish: “My first choice is Spanish because a lot of people in the U.S. speak Spanish. It is the second most spoken language in the U.S. It will be very helpful to be able to talk to and understand a lot of people. My brother knows a lot of Spanish so he can understand a lot of people so I want to be like him. I’ve loved taking this language ever since kindergarten, when I began Spanish, and I want to continue to take this language.”
- French: “Although French is a language I have never been exposed to speaking, it is a beautiful language with history behind it. French is one of the most commonly spoken Romance languages. There are over 44 languages originating from Latin for the modern language it is today. Learning a Romance language gives leverage when hearing another Romance language spoken. France itself is a beautiful country with lots of culture and I hope to visit there soon. When I do, the trip would be even more special if I could speak with the people in stores, restaurants and at hotels.”
- Latin: “My first choice would be to take Latin because, when I grow up, I want to become a veterinarian, and in vet and medical school, lots of terms are Latin words so it would be good to know the language. I always wanted to learn about Roman mythology and Latin class would be a great opportunity to do so. Learning Latin can also improve my vocabulary and grammar skills. Lastly, if I was able to take Latin, that means it would be easier for me to learn Romance languages like Italian, which I want to learn when I am older.”
- Chinese: “China, being the largest country in the world by population, also has a strong established language. China is also a hotspot for the world’s economy and business. Learning Mandarin would not be limited to a special experience, it would also be a leg up from people deeply connected to the economy in China. Although not commonly spoken in the U.S., Mandarin is a good business language and a true challenge to learn. Along with business bonuses, China is a large country with lots to explore. Wherever people travel, speaking the language is a new way to connect with culture and the people of the place. If I ever am allowed and opportunity to visit China, speaking Mandarin is a way to connect with the rich culture and history awaiting.”
Learn more about our world languages and global learning opportunities here.
No matter which language chosen, we know that our Middle Schoolers will enjoy mastering the language and diving into the culture of any of our world languages. Sixth graders, consider those virtual passports officially “stamped” after completing Passport Day 2020!