Language Study: A Window Into Culture

In a Gann Spanish class, you won’t find students simply memorizing “mama,” “papa,” “hijo” and “hija” for a unit on the family. Sure, they’ll learn the family tree, but they’ll also discuss how familial structures differ in Spanish-speaking countries, how divorce rates in Latin America diverge from the United States’, and how same-sex relationships are viewed. Meanwhile, sophomores studying Arabic are brushing up on vocabulary they plan to use when they visit the souk (marketplace) in Israel during the myIsrael trip.

"Across all of our language classes, there’s a deep level of engagement with the culture because we believe that the best way to learn language is through culture,” explains World Languages Department Chair Carolyn Siegel. “We want to create globally competent citizens who are comfortable wherever they find themselves in the world.”

Gann offers Spanish, Arabic, French, and Hebrew (which every student studies). 

Avi Gold '18 says that learning language through culture has “really made me want to visit the countries we’ve studied.” In the summer after his sophmore year, Gold participated in a service trip to the Dominican Republic to build homes and loved that he was able to communicate with the people he encountered. “In college, I’d like to do a language study abroad,” he adds. 

Click here for a multilingual greeting from Gann students.
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