German student teacher Herr Liam Weydert counts out the Polka steps

World Cup fever has taken over the Bellingham High School World Languages department this fall.

BHS kicked off language classes in late November with songs, dances and crafts from a variety of countries as they gave a global nod to the 32 countries (teams) playing in the 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in Qatar.

At the start of language class periods, students assembled outside their classrooms to take part in a mini Opening Ceremonies that included a quick lesson on the correct pronunciation of Qatar. The students then proceeded to move through short sessions where they engaged in activities such as dancing the German polka, the Colombian cumbia or the Spanish salsa, making Mexican tissue paper flowers or Japanese origami, and clapping along to a French singing game.

Ahead of the World Cup cultural activities, the BHS teachers pitched the following to the school to announce these special activities. “At BHS, your World Language team strives to teach students to become global citizens who not only appreciate world cultures, but who are able to build connections with others through communication in our target languages: French, Japanese, German and Spanish,” they wrote. “We are proud to have a collaborative team of teachers that creates curricula, discusses best teaching practices, and plans events together.”

Spanish teacher Lori French, sporting a jersey from a local soccer team in Jalisco, Mexico, led students through both production of tissue paper flowers (flores de papel) and she taught a traditional Mexican song and dance called Soy una Serpiente where participants are tagged to join the back of line as the tail of the serpent.

French teacher Svetlana Cuello taught students the French clapping song Trois Petits Chats (three little cats), which is similar to Patty Cake, only more complicated with variations of speed and French word twists.  This song is played by French children and is a long song with an element of endurance, according to Madame Cuello.

German student teacher Liam Weydert led students through the basics of the German polka, counting out the steps and calling out the next  dance moves while wearing the flag of a German team tied like a cape, similar to the way ‘futbol’ fans do across the world.

This World Cup-themed week joins many other traditions and events in the BHS World Languages Department that “build community amongst our students and help foster pride in the languages they are learning.”

Senora French said her students appreciated the bit of fun and cross-department sharing. “Students enjoyed learning about the different cultures,” she said “and appreciated that we worked together as a team.”

Likewise, Madame Cuello’s biggest takeaway was around exposing students to a different way of learning. With these activities, “we allowed our students to experience culture that never makes it into our regular lessons because there is never enough time,” she shared. “It was also nice to decompress and take a few risks, especially in the case of learning a dance.”

Special thanks for the awesome teamwork of Spanish teachers Lori French, Dominic Ghirardini and Janae Hodge; French teacher Svetlana Cuello; German teacher Kara Bezanson and German student teacher Liam Weydert; and Japanese teacher Mark Wright and Japanese student teacher Jay Allistair Altura.

Using the excited language of sports announcers when a team scores, “GOOOAAAALLLL” to the BHS World Languages Department.

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