International Languages Week

By Elaine Kelly | Posted: Thursday August 16, 2018

“Language and culture are frameworks through which humans experience, communicate and understand reality” Lev Vygotsky, Psychologist.

This week at Otago Boys’ we have been challenged to step outside of our comfort zone and engage with other languages and cultures. This is a great way to practice our school values of perseverance and courage. There have been a wide variety of events taking place throughout the week. One of our teachers, Mr Reussenzehn, spoke to both the Junior and Senior assemblies about his experiences as an International student. He encouraged the International students at OBHS to make the most of every opportunity and called on the whole student community to think about ways they can help International students feel welcome.

The staff briefing each morning was opened with inspirational words in the different languages spoken by the teachers, setting the tone for form teachers to share the “Quote of the Day” and the “Question of the Day” with the boys. Every day boys were challenged to show up to the Department of Languages and answer a question in a language that they didn’t speak with the best effort winning a canteen voucher. As the week went on more and more boys raced their brothers across the courtyard to get to first place in the queue. Of course, this gave the boys the chance to seek out speakers of different languages for help, which in turn opened their eyes to different cultures. Many thanks to all the fluent French, German, Spanish, Swedish and Arabic speakers that we are so lucky to have here at Otago Boys’ for their efforts to support their brothers’ learning!

We also had the inaugural “World Wednesday”, a lunchtime event in the library which gave boys the opportunity to try their hand at a number of different student led activities, encouraging student leadership and multicultural understanding. The following boys are to be commended for taking leadership roles; Kehan Jiang for Chinese Calligraphy, Motoki Tanaka and Nachi Kanno for Japanese Origami, Rami Allo and Ahmad Diwan for Write your Name in Arabic. Boys also filled the world map with pins to reflect the many different cultures that are represented here at Otago Boys’ and completed a challenging language and culture quiz in the hope of winning a $20 voucher. This event could not have happened without the enthusiasm of Ms Vare, Librarian as well as Ms Parks and Ms Justice of the ESOL department who were kind enough to supply Sushi, Black Forest Cupcakes and Spekulatius biscuits. A particular thanks goes to the mother of Ahmad Diwan for her handmade Ma’amoul, traditional middle eastern pastries filled with dates and nuts. The winner of the World Wednesday Quiz was Lachlan Jones, Year 12.

Boys in New Zealand are so lucky to already live in a bi-cultural landscape. Still, we are always looking for more ways in which we can actively engage boys in their learning of other languages and their understanding of different cultures. If you have any ways that you feel we could make next year’s International Language Week even better, then please contact the school office. We would love to hear your suggestions or accept your help!

Congratulations to the winner of the Question of the Day :

Bruno Ahmet, Year 11 for answering correctly in French

Jordan Herbert, Year 10 for answering correctly in German

David Currier, Year 12 for answering correctly in Spanish

Sam Gavin, Year 9 for answering correctly in Swedish

Michael Crosson , Year 10 for answering correctly in Arabic

These boys neither speak nor are learning the language that they answered in. It is a testament to their open-mindedness and courage that they gave it a go. A fantastic example of the rewards that risk taking can bring!

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