Many regional groups at Trent are launching programs where they will teach languages in a setting outside of the classroom.
Throughout the semester, these groups have been planning to encourage students to participate in these lessons, which are free of charge.
The advantage of these lessons is that there are no course requirements or grades, just peer-to-peer lessons in which students of all levels help each other to learn a language.
One of the regional groups organizing Spanish language classes is the Organization for Latin Awareness (HOLA). Its president, Mauricio Orellana, spoke with this reporter.
He expressed that “at this moment it is uncertain because it depends on the number of volunteers able to teach Spanish and the flexibility of their schedule”. Moreover, he added that the goal is to provide a minimum of one-hour class four times per week.
Orellana explained that HOLA would be contacting the Spanish department at Trent to learn from their style and structure of teaching. Nevertheless, they would like to focus more on verbal and grammatical skills rather than on writing skills.
“Hopefully these classes will have the enough resources to teach an appropriate level of both verbal and writing skills,” he added.
When asked about the purpose for these lessons, HOLA’s president expressed that “by learning another language, one can learn different cultures and traditions (in this case Latin Americans).
“In addition, teaching Spanish helps Latin American students share their knowledge and experience with other students. This in some level helps to create and spread awareness to more and more people in our university.”
Another regional organization planning on providing language classes is the Trent University Russian Speaking Association (TURSA). Kristina Dergacheva, TURSA’s president expressed that they will most likely provide classes next semester. She said that Russian is perhaps a difficult language to learn and therefore would like to start with the very basic skills.
“They will be small classes, maybe a five people to one ratio, once a week or so. After the class participants could get a Russian speaking partner so they can practice”, she said.
These regional groups will announce the time and location of the lessons as the year unfolds.
The Trent Muslim Student Association (TMSA) is another group providing language training. Their classes will run every Tuesday from 5-6pm with the location to be announced.
TMSA’s President, Bakhtawar Riaz, stated that the classes typically cover writing, reading and speaking. “We hope that people who have zero experience with Arabic will get a basic understanding of the language and those who have some sort of experience will improve their reading, writing and speaking abilities. We also hope the students will get a better appreciation for the language.”
If you’re interested in Arabic classes, you can email them for more information: [email protected]
In terms of speaking partners, there is a group on campus called the Trent Speaking Partner Program (TSPP). They focus on having ESL students matched with native English speakers that would like to learn a different language.
Camila Lopez, one of the members of the group, explained that the “main objective of the program is ESL student integration in the community so that they can apply what they learn in class. As a result a cultural exchange takes place since both parties benefit.
All of these lessons are not just about learning a useful skill; they are about learning about the cultures that are intrinsic to that language. They are also about making valuable connections with students from around the world.
Diverse cultural characteristics are embedded in language. For example, there are instances where some statements cannot be translated into a different language because those languages did not develop in the same socio-cultural context.
That is to say, language develops a unique worldview that is informed by the context in which that language was born and developed.
When we learn a new language, not only do we become more flexible in the way we see the world, but our minds become more agile as well. Learning languages is definitely a great way of understanding different socio-cultural dynamics.
Trent thrives in their quality of international students. The campus is filled with opportunities to take on activities organized by the Trent International Student Association (TISA), the Trent Speaking Partner Program (TSPP) and other groups and clubs.
Language lessons are a great way to learn a valuable skill, make friends, and expand your worldview.