Hilltop celebrates languages


Another successful year of Berlitz languages at Hilltop Country Day School

SPARTA — Hilltop middle school students completed a culminating activity for their world language classes. The Celebration of Language Skills presentation was held at the end of another successful year of Berlitz languages at Hilltop Country Day School. Students, teachers, Berlitz instructors and Linda Merlo, Berlitz Kids and Teens -Manager of Instruction found the event to be refreshingly engaging.
Students impressed the audience with their short conversations in French, Mandarin, and Spanish and the culturally-relevant images they'd collected so that the audience could follow along even if they did not speak all the languages. But the really remarkable thing is that these students acquired these language skills through live online classes. The celebration was the first time they had met their Berlitz instructors in person.
Because Hilltop regards world languages so highly, most of the students have studied all three languages: French, Mandarin, and Spanish. And at the end of the presentations, each student made it seem easy to be multilingual because they taught the audience to say something in the target language. Linda Merlo noted, "The fifth graders stole the show at this point because they were presenting Mandarin, and without any English at all, they got us to understand what they were saying about everyday objects by using digital presentations and other props they had brought in."
Families were definitely involved in the preparation of the celebration because the presentations were followed by a sumptuous buffet of foods that each family contributed to represent China and the Frech and Spanish speaking cultures.
It's an event like this that give students the kind of challenge that makes learning a new language so engaging. The Berlitz language program at Hilltop uses skype for whole class instruction along with video conferences for one and one instruction as well as virtual field trips to Mexico City and Montreal.