The Bridges: Children, Languages, World program, hosted through The Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, will continue teaching children less-commonly-taught languages in schools and organizations located in Monroe County.
Lead coordinator for Bridges: Children, Languages, World Wes Steele said the program aims to expand children's awareness, curiosity and understanding of world cultures through interactive lessons such as games, activities, songs and videos.
“Bridges offers local children, schools, and community centers a unique opportunity to gain exposure to languages and cultures rarely taught in the United States, especially at the elementary school level,” Steele said.
During the spring semester, the program will be partnering with nine schools and organizations in Bloomington. The program will offer Mandarin, Greek, Hindi, Kiswahili, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Turkish.
“(The program) builds a bridge between many countries and their cultures” IU Ph.D student Yasemin Kole said. “The program is tremendously beneficial for the students because encountering another world through language and culture at early ages will help children have a more diverse understanding and respectful, peaceful acceptance of others.”
Steele coaches undergraduate and graduate student volunteers specializing in language and area studies. After receiving $16.3 million from the U.S. Department of Education, The Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies collaborated with the School of Education to create six national resource centers that teaches culture, languages and international education. Steele said the program offers student instructors key fundamentals of language and cultural curriculum design and development.
“For the IU students teaching in the program, it is an excellent opportunity to not only practice their language skills, but also to share invaluable cultural knowledge from other countries with young and curious American elementary school students,” IU junior and program volunteer Erol Algan said.
Algan, who studies folklore and central Eurasian studies with a minor in Russian, has taught Turkish in the Bridges program for the past three semesters.
“In the U.S., unfortunately, our teaching of geography and cultures outside our own is insufficient,” Algan said. “Through this program, students gain access to a wealth of knowledge about other countries and the languages spoken there.”
Steele said the program will run from February to April. A mandatory volunteer orientation meeting will be held on Jan. 26. Interested students should contact Steele at firstname.lastname@example.org.