In a World of Language

A closer look at El Modena’s world language department and its benefits to students


While the world continues to make advancements in technology and society, communication and the diversity of language have become increasingly important. As students prepare for college and experiences beyond their own communities, they recognize the value of early exposure to world cultures. The world language department, also known as the foreign language department, at El Modena High School supports its students’ futures and provides them with a variety of opportunities to harness the new skills involved in expanding their abilities for global communication.

   In an established classroom setting, students have the opportunity to learn two commonly spoken languages across the world: Spanish and French. Throughout their participation in the world language department, students will be immersed in the rich culture of both Spanish- and French-speaking countries, as well as the structure of their respective forms of communication.

   Each given language has an orderly ladder of classes based on prerequisites and level of experience in speaking either Spanish or French.

   The order of classes for non-native Spanish speakers begins with Spanish I, followed by Spanish II, Spanish III, and Spanish IV. For native Spanish speakers looking to improve their linguistic skills, the order of classes begins with Spanish for Spanish-Speakers I, followed by Spanish for Spanish-Speakers II.

   Following both orders of classes, El Modena offers two Advanced Placement classes to further expand students’ fluency. The two available options for students who want to continue to excel in expanding their knowledge of Spanish culture are AP Spanish Language and Culture and AP Spanish Literature. Students who enroll in the highest-level language class that El Modena offers, AP Spanish Literature, get to demonstrate their knowledge of a world language by reading classic novels written completely in Spanish, such as Don Quixote, and by learning almost exclusively in Spanish.

   Many Spanish teachers choose to create an immersive cultural experience, decorating their rooms with flags from Spanish-speaking countries such as Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, and others. They also hang posters depicting monuments or popular tourist attractions that characterize the countries, allowing students to feel the beneficial influences of the culture.

   In order to provide the best possible education for the hundreds of students involved in learning or improving their Spanish skills, El Modena offers collaborative trips with Education First Tours to countries such as Spain and Costa Rica. Usually taking place over summer, this gives students a chance to explore the countries which have been involved in their Spanish education all year.

   In the French department, the classes are organized similarly with the Spanish classes, beginning with French I, followed by French II, French III, French IV, and AP French Language and Culture, which is taught almost exclusively in French. The AP French Language and Culture class provides students with the rigorous education that they desire in order to extend their knowledge of French culture.

   Just as the Spanish teachers bring the Spanish culture to their classrooms through decorations, French teachers also create an atmosphere reminiscent of French-speaking countries such as France, Belgium, and Laos. Some of these decorations include models of the Eiffel Tower, French flags, pictures of the Louvre Museum, popular French phrases, and a map of France.

   The French department at El Modena also collaborates with Education First Tours in order to book trips to France and other French-speaking countries. These trips usually take place annually for upperclassmen who take interest in traveling abroad.

   Although both language classes prove academically challenging, they impact students’ lives in more ways than many could have imagined. 

   “The foreign language department has impacted me by allowing me to gain a better knowledge of the spanish language and culture,” says sophomore Jackson Bates, who is currently enrolled in Spanish II. “Taking Spanish has taught me skills that I can utilize for the rest of my life.” Bates plans on continuing his Spanish education through high school and into college, where he feels that being bilingual would benefit his studies.

   A French III student, sophomore Garrett Kahl, expresses his opinion about his time learning French. “I really enjoy the language department here at El Modena,” Kahl says. “I believe that learning French will help me in my future with learning other languages and finding job opportunities. I am taking a trip to France next summer and my time in French class will really help me communicate there and adapt to the culture quickly.” Kahl also enjoys the various activities unique to French classes, such as cooking crepes and participating in occasional group visits to French restaurants around Orange County.

   Not only do students benefit from taking a foreign language class because of the life skills that they acquire, but because of the unique qualities of El Modena’s teachers. Every teacher organizes their lesson with careful consideration so as to best present the information for students’ ideal understanding.

   On special days during class, teachers organize ethnic food deliveries and cooking supplies to enjoy crepes, croissants, churros with thick chocolate sauce, and a popular dish from El Salvador called pupusas. Teachers in the language department also set aside time in their normal curriculum to show movies in Spanish or French as they relate to the lessons, further improving exposure to the sound of accents and grammatical structures.

   One of El Modena’s beloved French teachers, Monsieur Edwards, teaches French II, French III, and AP French Language and Culture. He discusses the advantages that students have by taking a foreign language class. “Taking a foreign language class, especially one that focuses on the romance languages, can help students recognize unfamiliar words on the SAT, help expand their vocabulary, and make it easier for them to learn more languages in the future.”

   Monsieur Edwards also comments on the factors that make El Modena’s world language department special. “We engage in cultural activities such as making crepes, which the students find to be exciting. The teachers at El Modena have impressive teacher training and are very passionate about what they do. I have been teaching French since 1991 and I think that our dedication and experience makes a difference.” Monsieur Edwards tries his hardest to ensure  that his class remains engaged and intrigued when learning all that French has to offer.

   Another outstanding teacher, Señora Lopez, acknowledges the edge that students have by taking a world language class. “There are numerous advantages of studying a foreign language, especially in a culturally diverse community such as Southern California. The benefits range from employment and economic benefits, cognitive benefits and academic benefits to social, cultural, and personal benefits. Personally, I think it makes travelling abroad so much more enjoyable.” Señora Lopez has seen many students improve through their journey in her classes, as she teaches both Spanish I and Spanish IV.

   Sra. Lopez also states what makes El Modena’s world language department, in particular, advantageous to students. “Our foreign language department is special because of the variety of teaching techniques and different styles of our teachers. This, along with our different backgrounds and experiences, exposes our students to a wide range of knowledge and learning opportunities.” Sra. Lopez has traveled to various Spanish-speaking countries and has gathered firsthand experiences that she shares with her students to spark their interest in learning and traveling abroad.

   In addition to long-term success, learning a new language at El Modena can also qualify students to earn the Seal of Biliteracy, an achievement commonly honored by college admissions officers. Students trying to attract the attention of colleges can earn the Seal of Biliteracy by earning excellent grades and scores in their English classes and state standardized exams, and by accomplishing successful grades in four years of the same language. Since college remains so dear to students’ hearts, the prospect of learning a foreign language appeals to their college and career plans.

   El Modena’s world language department truly does offer unique opportunities to its excelling students who wish to expand the horizons of communication. In a changing world, diversity and the ability to be bilingual give young adults the competitive edge. In the heart of it all, El Modena’s emphasis on immersive experiences influences students to continue their lifetime learning of the languages that connect the world.


It's only fair to share...Print this page
Share on Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn