The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

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Opinions Towards the Language Sampler Requirement


Figuring out a language to choose from takes time and effort. However, Poly’s language sampler – where students can test four languages in grade five and later decide on one study – has been beneficial. The Polygon interviewed the World Languages Department Chair, four language teachers, and two students to gain insight into the purpose of the language sampler, how teachers approach the language sampler, and the community’s opinions on the language sampler.

According to World Languages Department Chair Elisabeth Mansfield, “The purpose of the language sampler is to give exposure to each fifth-grader of all the different languages we have so that they can make an informed decision about what language they want to study in sixth grade. The language sampler is where you can try out four different languages to find out which one you would like to pick. They last over two months.” Mansfield also explains that students are expected to sign up for the language they’re taking in sixth grade in March/April. 

  “I think the language sampler class is great because students basically can have the freedom to choose a language instead of being pushed to learn one,” said Mandarin teacher Chenyi Zhou. “Students can have the chance to learn a language and to see whether they like it or not because this choice is related to the future of the three-year learning in the future so this is vital to make a decision.” 

Zhou added that the sampler plays an integral role in exposing students to different cultures, which is an important aspect of learning a new language, but, generally, great knowledge to have. “The Language teachers also teach a lot of culture and cultural relative stuff. So you can know China and Chinese culture from my class even though you don’t take the language. But it’s just fun to know cultures from other cultures.” 

The language teachers are also trying to take an interactive approach to learning. Zhou also stated that, in her class, “students can listen and talk to each other to see if they can use the language.” She also stated “My class is game-based so I use a lot of games and group competitions and Kahoot or Blooket, we play, and I also introduce a lot of animals about culture. For example, Chinese food or Chinese cities. So these are good and very interesting aspects to learn in language class.” 

French teacher Christopher Tutolo said, “I think that it’s nice for fifth graders to be able to explore four different languages and then try to see what they’re like and then make a decision at the end of the year.” When teaching, Tutolo uses music as well as hands-on games to introduce concepts and new vocabulary to students. “Aside from that, I think one of the more exciting things about fifth grade is I can always count on the fifth graders to want to do short scenarios and act out short scenes. So whatever the scene is that I ask fifth graders to do they always seem to respond well to that,” he added.
Fifth grader Jaden Pelson said “I like the language sampler because it tells why you like it or not. I want to study French because I just love the language and it’s just so fun.” 

Fifth grader Mila Smith said, “I think that having samples is good because we get to experience all of these languages instead of just guessing what to pick in 6th grade. I think that I’m going to choose Spanish because I love it and because of my background.”

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