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High school students visit CSU for Language Day

November 7, 2013

On Oct. 23, 136 students and 8 teachers from northern Colorado high schools came to CSU for the fifth annual High School Language Day hosted by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.

The event brought together students in language classes from Fossil Ridge High School, Liberty Common High School, and Poudre High School in Fort Collins; Thompson Valley High School in Loveland; and Prairie View High School in Henderson.

Games and crafts at fair

Students perused eye-catching language booths located throughout the first-floor hallways of Clark C, gathering information on programs in Arabic, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Latin, and American Sign Language. Hallways were labeled with signs such as “Mediterranean Way” and “Atlantic Way,” with booths organized by geographic location. “We wanted to make it feel like a real fair,” said Lorella Paltrinieri, Italian instructor and organizer of the event.

The language booths were manned by graduate students and faculty members and were vibrantly decorated with photos, maps, books, and cultural items. High school students played trivia games, did arts and crafts, and participated in a fair-wide scavenger hunt. They also had the opportunity to speak with current CSU students about programs, clubs, study abroad opportunities, and career possibilities.

With declining numbers in enrollment in the Foreign Languages department, department chair Paola Malpezzi-Price believes that it is important to show prospective students that foreign languages can help students establish successful careers. “Parents and students view foreign language programs as an addition to, rather than the core of, a profession. We have a lot of students who minor in languages and we encourage students who major in languages to get a second major. Learning a second language gives students an edge in the global market and makes a significant difference in the global economy,” said Malpezzi-Price.

“It’s not just about learning the language; it’s about learning the culture,” explained Malpezzi-Price. Students who major or minor in foreign languages gain a valuable professional tool for the global marketplace, but they also gain insights into the histories and cultures of other countries, making them more informed global citizens.

Sitting in on classes

After the language fair, high school students sat in on CSU language classes. Though they had a great time at the fair, students especially enjoyed going to class: “They loved the classes more than anything,” wrote a teacher from Liberty Common High School. “They were able to understand most of what was happening in the classrooms and participate and volunteer answers. They were very proud of themselves and they thought it was really a great experience. They definitely want to do it again next year.”

The Language Day concluded with lunch provided by the department, and several teachers then took their students around campus. “Many students who participated said that they hope to come to CSU,” said Malpezzi-Price. “The Language Day makes the department more visible and serves as a great recruitment tool to get prospective students interested in our programs.”

Promoting and building community

In addition to connecting with prospective students, the Language Day had the added benefit of promoting community within the Foreign Languages and Literatures department. “Graduate students, instructors, and faculty from all language programs worked as a team to make this happen,” said Paltrinieri. The event also brought some familiar faces back the department: four of the high school teachers who participated were alumni from the department’s master’s program.

More students attended this year’s event than in previous years due to increased marketing and communications efforts. The department hopes to continue the growth of this event to introduce more prospective students to Colorado State University and the diverse programs offered by the department.

Contact: Lindsey Middendorf
Phone: (970) 491-2374