The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 29, 2008

Language event draws students from 40 schools in three states

By Joe Hadsall

jhadsall@joplinglobe.com

Miller High School juniors Shelby Smith and Erika Keithley had to have the sombreros they wore on Tuesday. They were presents for their French teacher.

“Our French teacher is also the Spanish teacher,” Keithley said. “Instead of giving us hall passes, she makes us wear a sombrero to wherever we’re going.”

The students were among about 1,100 from 40 high schools in three states who attended Missouri Southern State University’s Foreign Language Field Day on Tuesday. The event featured competitive and recreational activities dedicated to giving students a chance to speak German, Spanish and French.

“This is a chance for students to see how they use a foreign language outside the class,” said Leslie Parker, director of the International Language Resource Center. “They can see the opportunities that await them and be around people who like the languages.”

Students competed in events such as poetry reading, skit performance, vocabulary testing and geography knowledge. But the field day also is known for its noncompetitive events, such as salsa dancing, origami lessons and conversation opportunities.

Angela Kunshek, a Spanish teacher at Girard (Kan.) High School, said she brought several students who didn’t compete in any event.

“There are plenty of things to do,” she said. “It’s nice for the students to have experiences with foreign languages outside the classroom.”

Conversation station

One of the activities that drew the most student participation was the conversation station.

MSSU students asked questions of participants in either French, German or Spanish. Students who answered back in the language received credit that they could use to buy prizes, such as the sombreros won by Smith and Keithley.

The activity was easier for the students who are further along in their study, said senior Taylor Milstead, of Pittsburg (Kan.) High School.

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