Crowd gets language lesson at RHS 'Taste'

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Thu., Feb. 17, 2011
VCMS students Marisa (left) and Sofia, both 11, enjoy some international cuisine after helping Sofia's mother, Xian Shen Bliek, teach the entire crowd at Rockville High School's Taste of Languages how to count to 10 in Chinese. Photos by Steve Smith.
VCMS students Marisa (left) and Sofia, both 11, enjoy some international cuisine after helping Sofia's mother, Xian Shen Bliek, teach the entire crowd at Rockville High School's Taste of Languages how to count to 10 in Chinese. Photos by Steve Smith.

 

Hundreds came to Rockville High School on Feb. 16 for the annual Taste of Languages event, presented by the Vernon school district's world language department, and nearly all of them left knowing at least a small amount of Chinese.

The evening began with a 45-minute lesson in any one of 13 languages of the attendee's choice, including some more-exotic offerings, such as Arabic, Wolof, and American Sign Language (ASL).

RHS German teacher Christopher Lewis explained that German, French, and Spanish were not included in the offerings, because students at RHS are already able to study those language, and the purpose is to expose people to the unfamiliar.

After the smaller classes, Xian Shen Bliek, the Chinese instructor for the evening, began the presentation in the auditorium by teaching the entire crowd at the event how to count to 10 in Chinese. Furthermore, she explained the structure of Chinese numbers, so that the audience left with the tools to say any number from 0 to 999. This came in particularly handy, as audience members were able to win door prizes, so long as they could read their raffle tickets, as the numbers were announced only in Chinese.

Student Rachel Nutt assisted with the announcements, as she learned some Chinese last summer through an immersion program called Startalk – Discover Chinese.

“We got to eat Chinese food every day,” Nutt said. “We had to order it in Chinese. We learned a month's curriculum in a few days. It was very intense, but it was a lot of fun.”

Musical performances included RHS junior Jennifer Mears, who sang “Alma del Core” by Antonio Cladara, and “Nina” by Giovanni Battista – both in Italian, and Mr. Eugeniusz Kozlowski, who performed several selections on the accordion, including polka and gypsy music.

World language department chair for Vernon Schools Jaya Vijayasekar said she and her staff try to make each year's event a little different, and she's already thinking of ways to improve next year's Taste of Languages.

“I was pleased with the Chinese lesson,” Vijayasekar said. “I think people enjoyed it, and learned a little bit.”

She added that the goal of that lesson was to leave everyone in the audience feeling like they could learn a new language, rather than feeling like it was too difficult.

“We'd like to see three times as many people at next year's event,” she said.


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