Language camp gives voice to cultures
MOORHEAD - The best way to learn a language is to be immersed in it. That is the philosophy behind Concordia College's Language Villages, a cultural immersion program based in Bemidji for the past 50 years. The program is more like a summer camp ...
MOORHEAD - The best way to learn a language is to be immersed in it.
That is the philosophy behind Concordia College's Language Villages, a cultural immersion program based in Bemidji for the past 50 years.
The program is more like a summer camp than a school, an approach that creates a 360-degree approach to language as an introduction to another version of the world.
"After their time at the villages, kids have more fluency, a positive attitude and interest in learning the language further,' said Christina Larsen Dickson, a former instructor at the camps, an international language teacher and longtime supporter.
More than 10,000 children and adults have participated in Language Villages programs throughout the years. The offerings include languages such as German, Norwegian, Arabic and Korean.
The summer camp activities at the Language Villages are varied. When the children arrive, they choose a new identity by picking a name from the culture they are about to experience.
Activities depend on the village. Japanese camp kids get to do taiko drumming, while in the Italian village, students do a mock horse race called palio using bicycles.
The "nations" come together for their showcase during "International Day" and for "futbol" tournaments.
Concordia College professor Gerhard Haukebo organized the first Language Village 50 years ago.
It was a German language summer camp based on his observations teaching children new languages in Germany. He found that American children at the military base where he taught learned far more of the language playing with German kids than in class.
Beginning with one language and 72 kids, the program has steadily bloomed over the years, bringing the current number of villages to 14.
"Staff come from all over the world and speak their languages to kids all the time" said Carl-Martin Nelson, who has been on the staff for 22 years. He's dual director of international exchange and communications.
"We build tremendously strong community in our programs," Nelson said. "This helps kids learn because they are willing to take chances and make mistakes."
This year's International Day is scheduled July 8-10 and will feature performances from each of the villages. It is open to all who want to broaden their exposure to the world's diversity.
"Most schools have cut back on the number of foreign languages students can choose from," Dickson said. "The villages lay the foundation for a global perspective that all of these languages out there are important."
If you go
- What: Concordia Language Villages' 50th anniversary and International Day Celebration
- When: 1 to 6 p.m. July 8
- Where: Bemidji, Minn.
- Info: Admission is free; more information on the programs can be found at www.concordialanguagevillages.org or by calling (800) 222-4750.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Stephanie Fail at (701) 241-5480