Students celebrate languages, culture at International Day

World languages and ESOL students will celebrate Pinellas County Schools International Day, Saturday, March 9, 2013.  Approximately 600 world languages students, teachers, judges and community volunteers assist with this annual celebration of cultural diversity and language study.

This year’s theme, “Many Languages:  One United Voice”, will be evident throughout Meadowlawn Middle School, where the event takes place beginning at 9 a.m.

A “Parade of Nations” opens the morning and features students from elementary, middle and high schools dressed in costumes representing the many languages and cultures found in our community.  The parade will be followed by student performances and a “roll call” of participating schools. Following the opening ceremony, students will scatter across the campus to enjoy the day filled with a variety of academic and nonacademic activities, including speaking events and hands-on cultural workshops.  Upon arrival, schools enter banners, posters and 3-D design projects for judging which all refer to the theme of the day.

Each student participant receives a passport with the schedule of activities for the day. Students might choose to make and taste Brazilian bregadeiro, French crepes, or Spanish gazpacho.  They might learn to dance salsa, play fútbol, or learn some basic phrases in Arabic.  Others will choose to create and take home beautiful Mexican folk art, Spanish tiles or Guatemalan worry dolls or Chinese crafts.   The full list of more than 30 workshops, prepared and presented by Pinellas County teachers of world languages, includes a variety of cooking, arts and crafts and cultural games.

Students are also judged on their recitation of poems and their participation in extemporaneous speaking in Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, French, German and Greek.  Compositions written in the target language are also judged. All students receive ribbons for their participation as well as feedback from native-speaking judges on their language abilities.  In addition, schools may choose to participate in a dramatic presentation competition.  Participation in speaking competitions at the local level prepares students who go on to participate in similar events at state language competitions.

Pinellas County Schools and the Office of World Languages wish to thank Meadowlawn Middle School administration and staff, WLTA (World Languages Teachers’ Association), University of South Florida staff and students, world languages and ESOL teachers and bilingual assistants, retired teachers and many others from our community who consistently support this event each year.