Teachers in Oregon and Washington Find Creative Ways to Inspire Student Interest in World Languages

Teachers in Oregon and Washington Find Creative Ways to Inspire Student Interest in World Languages

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Portland, Oregon, October 22, 2015 - Despite budget cuts and record enrollment, schools across Oregon and Washington are opening their doors to teens from France, Spain, and Mexico for a few weeks this winter and spring. While some administrators initially voiced concern that adding an extra student to teachers' already full load may be too much to ask, teachers who have participated in the program report that inviting an international teen to class for a few weeks facilitates learning. 

Marilyn Lucas, a French teacher at Central Catholic High School, describes the experience as very positive. “I know the students benefit,” she said, “ in the sense that they hear from a French young person, their own age… and how he feels about world politics, what he listens to for music, how his school functions, and this is valuable in understanding the world around them.” 

The Northwest School Visitor program is currently in its thirteenth year, and part of its success stems from the fact that the international students are selected by their English teachers and school principals based on their motivation to practice English and participate in American family and school life. 

The international teens live with families from the school’s community and follow a host brother or sister’s schedule. They love to assist in class, and teachers often find creative ways to make use of their enthusiasm through conversation groups, skits, pronunciation help, presentations, and classroom discussions. Following the visit, teachers have described an increase in student interest and motivation for language learning. 

While the international teens require teacher and administrator’s approval for the visit, they don’t require student visas like traditional year-long exchanges. Because the visitors are only here for a few weeks, they do not need to enroll in classes. 

The program is coordinated by Andeo International Homestays, a nonprofit organization specializing in educational homestays since 1981.

“We certainly benefited from having the students here and we appreciate working with Andeo,” commented Sue Ann Higgens, Assistant Principal at Riverdale High School. "Thanks again for including us.” 

If you’d like more information about inviting a teen from France, Spain, or Mexico to visit your school for a few weeks, please contact Paulene Hedgpeth at Andeo International Homestays paulene@andeo.org or 503-274-1776. www.andeo.org