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Classroom Happenings: The Language of Connection

The Steward School
A unique assignment fosters a cross-cultural exchange.
“I’m always looking for ways to engage our students in the Spanish language and culture,” said Lower and Middle School Spanish teacher José Luis Reyes López. Mr. Reyes López started working on an innovative project at the end of the first semester. Using a platform called Forum Language Experience, which facilitates the connection between teachers and classrooms in the U.S. and Spain, Mr. Reyes López tasked his students with creating “day in the life” videos of themselves. 

Working in teams, Middle School students recorded their videos on their iPads in Spanish. The Steward School is partnering with Juan Díaz de Soliz, a middle school in San Fernando, Spain. Students from that school created their own videos in Spanish and English, and the two schools are doing video exchanges over the Forum Language Experience platform and Zoom throughout the second semester. 

Infinite Avenues 

“I thought this would be a great opportunity for our students to see the world beyond the classroom walls and meet students their age who are learning English,” said Mr. Reyes López. “This program is a perfect fit since there are infinite avenues to explore.” An added bonus to this cross-cultural connection is that Mr. Reyes López and the teachers in Spain will collaborate to create original activities for future assignments. 
 
Zooming into Discovery 

On a recent wintry day, Mr. Reyes López’s students settled into their seats to “meet” the Juan Díaz de Soliz students over Zoom. 

In their videos, Spartans shared in Spanish about the weather, family members, pastimes, classes, food, and sports; their Spanish counterparts did the same, but in English. “It amazed me to see how much my students understood from the videos that we received from their Spanish peers,” said Mr. Reyes López. The students also got to talk to each other in real-time over Zoom after watching the videos. 
 
Emily Stefanick ’28 said the project “helped me improve my skills by writing scripts in English and then translating them into Spanish. I look forward to making more videos.” 

For Juliet Forlano ’28, meeting “kids like us across the globe” was fun  — and motivating. 

“I had always wondered if other kids struggle with speaking English as much as I struggle with speaking Spanish,” she said. “Connecting with the kids in Spain made me want to talk to them more, pushing me to use my Spanish. I look forward to doing other creative projects with Sr. Reyes!”

A New Way of Learning

“We are exposing our students to native speakers of the same age, and that is extraordinary!” said Mr. Reyes López excitedly. Recalling the day that his students began watching the videos from their Spanish classmates, he said, “You had to see their faces when they found out that kids from Spain are not much different than they are … things like wearing similar clothes and following similar trends. Details like this help them have a more realistic picture of what the world is like beyond our country.”

Check out Steward Snaps for photos of this project.


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