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 Our Spoken Selves
The pilot year of the Identity Language Program
Students involved in the Identity Language Program use a variety of resources to study their chosen language, for example, a book
in Swedish (above)
or online learning software for Mandarin (right)
At FIS’ recent Worldfest, so many delights awaited attendees that it would have been difficult to experience all of the riotous colors, delicious bites and thrilling sounds. However, it is unlikely anyone present could have missed the symphony of languages that echoed in every corner of the campus. For many international schools, diversity of language is a hallmark of their communities, but in some cases, those unique sounds and words must be left at the door when students attend classes. However, a pilot program in the FIS Upper School is looking not only to embrace all the languages spoken in our community, but also to deepen the language learning of those who already have a strong basis in a given tongue and are dedicated to continuing their progress.
Luisa Marie Razeto, a German and Math Upper School teacher, designed the Identity Language Program in coordination with former and current administrators, Daniel Cowan and Jaia Masterson, respectively, after a number of students began requesting language learning outside of the
6 FIS World June 2022
traditional courses that are offered at FIS. Prior to this school year, students could study English, German, French, Spanish, Korean and Japanese, the latter two languages in intensive literature courses for native speakers. Therefore, continuous, rigorous learning of any other language had to take place in a student’s extra-curricular time. But with the introduction of this innovative and individualized course in the 2021/2022 school year, participating Upper School students have been able to self-identify the language of study. Ms. Razeto clarifies that this is not a beginner course but one in which the student already has a “fluency in or deep connection to” the chosen language.
When students have “lived everywhere,” Ms. Razeto feels that it is important to rethink how we categorize language learners, as some students have fluency in a language that is connected neither to their birthplace nor their parents’ language(s), yet it is still deeply a part of who they are. Therefore, their lived experiences, their learning styles and their future plans can be more

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