Language Ambassadors Expo Moves from Idea to Reality

Bonjour, konichiwa, guten-tag, buenos días, fofo, ciao, namaste… these greetings represent some of the sixteen languages heard at the first-ever Language Ambassadors Student Expos held in March.

children dressed in colorful outfits dancingIn an expansion of the COE’s Language Ambassador Student Recognition program, two student-to-student expos brought together children from different schools and districts to share their passion for multilingualism.  “The expo was a top experience of our year so far; students got to learn about other kids and other cultures in our county, ” raved Language Ambassador Advisor Theresa Cicchinelli, a sixth grade teacher at Pacific Elementary School.

Each expo was held during after-school hours. The first expo was held in Live Oak at Live Oak Elementary School and attended by students from Live Oak, Green AcresDel Mar, and Mountain Elementary Schools.    The second expo, less than a week later, was held in Watsonville at Starlight Elementary and attended by students from Starlight, H.A. Hyde and Pacific Elementary Schools. The program included performances by students of songs and dances representative of the cultures of the languages studied.  Another highlight was a “screening room” where students viewed videos produced by their fellow Language Ambassador students using a language other than English. Students also presented Learning Stations, where they taught about the language they were studying via games, poster boards and even a diorama.  Each student then also had the opportunity to be a learner as they rotated through three different Learning Stations.  Sixteen languages were represented in the expos:  Spanish, Tagalog, German, Russian, American Sign Language, French, Italian, Japanese, Zarma, Wolof, Hindi, Hebrew, Mandarin, Hawaiian, Lakota, and Swedish.

One student had this reaction: “I liked the experience because I like learning new words and I love meeting new people.  I love seeing different cultures.  What I think now is I’m glad I did it. “

High school students from SoquelHarborWatsonville and Pajaro Valley High Schools, many of them candidates for the California State Seal of Biliteracy, supported the event as volunteers and served as role models for the younger students.

In addition to providing the students with the opportunity to meet and interact with their peers from different schools, the Expo was designed for students to fulfill the “Create/Present” requirement of the Language Ambassadors program.  Students earn the recognition by completing six activities in three different categories in a language other than English.  The three categories are Learn, Interact and Present/Create.  Language Ambassadors from Pajaro Valley Unified School District will be recognized in a ceremony at the Mello Center, in conjunction with the Seal of Biliteracy ceremony on May 6.  Students from Live Oak, Mountain and Pacific School Districts will receive their awards at a ceremony on May 8 at Live Oak Elementary School.

The Language Ambassadors program supports the mission of Global California 2030 by promoting an interest in world languages at an early age. It is part of the work of the COE in implementing the California EL Roadmap Principle 1: Assets-based and Needs-responsive Schools.