International Languages Program connects students to ancestry

For some students, class is still in on Saturday – or Samstag or sábado, depending on which language class they are in.

The Barrie and Bradford Learning Centres offer a free International Languages Program for elementary students and credit language programs for secondary students so that they can learn a new language or maintain their native language.

“Every Saturday, my daughter gets up excited about going to class,” said Slava Chernousov, the father of Margo who is studying her native language of Russian. “We have been in Canada two years, and we speak Russian at home, but we wanted Margo to keep learning. The teachers make it fun and the kids enjoy it, and that makes it easier for them to go on a Saturday!”

Christa Culhane’s daughter Katarina is learning German in order to speak with her family overseas.

“We have family in Germany, and having my daughter take this class helps her connect with them,” Culhane said. “It’s great for her to be able to learn another language and speak with her family.”

Katarina added, “Knowing more languages helps you talk with more people in the world—that’s really important.”

InternationalProgram (5)Earlier this May, families were invited to the Learning Centre to help the students and teachers celebrate all that they have learned. The students showcased their learning skills by singing, acting, reciting poems, telling stories and so much more. Each class also had a display for parents to browse.

Heidi Minuti teaches one of the German language classes. She has taught at the Learning Centre for 10 years, and she has seen the program grow.

“Parents understand that learning another language – or keeping up with their heritage language – is important,” she said. “Having a second language can make a huge difference when looking for a job. Our students will be at an advantage.”

“Grammar is not the only aspect of learning at our classes—having a cultural component is an important part of it,” said Irina O’Keeffe, who teaches Russian. “Students learn the language through the culture and arts. They learn about the nation’s mentality to better understand the language.”

The elementary student program runs from September to May on Saturday mornings at the Learning Centres in Barrie and Bradford. Languages taught include Farsi, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tamil and Urdu. Languages are added based upon community need. The program is free to any student in Grades 1 to 8.

To register for next year’s elementary program, click here.

The secondary school program offers German, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish at the Barrie Learning Centre. The language courses are offered each semester on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. It is open to any secondary school student or Grade 8 student (with principal approval). Students who successfully complete this program earn a credit towards their secondary school diploma. Students can register for the program through their school’s Guidance Department.

To view the class schedule for September, click here.

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