RS Language Labs – A Window on the Wider World
Posted: 02 June 2023
When in-curriculum learning connects with the wider world, it magnifies students’ understanding, broadens horizons, raises aspirations, and builds their capacity to make a positive difference in the world.
With this in mind, teachers across the Round Square Community create and access opportunities to collaborate with their peers in RS schools around the world, to give their taught curriculum an international spin.
In doing so, they create robust, high-quality, well-supported and protected pathways for students to venture out into the world and learn by doing, both in-person and in virtual contexts.
Rahul, a teacher at Ningbo Huamao International School in China, describes these opportunities as “a corridor to know the culture of the world”. Students from Rahul’s school recently worked together with their peers at Keystone Academy in Beijing, and Shenzhen Concord College of Sino-Canada, to host a Round Square Language Lab.
Run over consecutive weekly sessions on Zoom, RS Language Labs enable student teams to host conversations in their native language, so that their peers in RS Schools around the world can practice their language skills in a real-world context. So far, RS Language Labs have brought the curriculum to life in Spanish, French, Chinese, German, Japanese and Arabic.
For the Japanese Lab, Linden Hall School and Junior & Senior High School of Kogakuin University together hosted conversations on Nature, Anime and Music. In Jordan, students at Amman Baccalaureate School (ABS) and King’s Academy hosted an Arabic Language Lab, in which Awn, a Grade 10 student host says: “not only did I have the opportunity to share my culture and identity by teaching someone a new language, but I also learned a new language myself, the language of teaching”.
Whilst practicing language skills, participants also build their knowledge of different countries and cultures. At the same time their hosts exercise their leadership skills. “My school hosted a Spanish Language Lab on Culture and Traditions,” says Sara Lerner from Áleph School in Peru. “We led conversations in Spanish and we had people join from 7 different countries including Armenia, India, the UK, and Germany. For us it was very interesting to learn about their cultures, the pronunciation that we have according to the language we speak and the different strategies that we had to test in order to communicate, for example how to use the chat as a tool. The space was interactive and that allowed them to be encouraged to speak and practice the words they knew. In this meeting, apart from taking new words, they were also able to learn more about our culture.”
The broad geography of the Round Square network means that Language Lab hosts are often a culturally diverse team. For example, Spanish Labs have been hosted by students from Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Spain, and French Labs have featured schools from Morocco, Canada and France. This mixture provides an extraordinary opportunity for students to build International Understanding whilst practicing and learning a language from native speakers in different linguistic contexts, cultures and countries. “As an IGCSE Spanish student, the Language Lab was a great opportunity for me to practice my speaking skills in conversation,” Says Darrel from Brookhouse school in Kenya. “I was able to interact with students my age about our similar interests and learn the different ways Spanish is spoken in different Spanish speaking countries.”
“Language Labs are a relatively new addition to Round Square’s portfolio, but they have quickly become popular with students” says Florencia Marante, Round Square’s Student Engagement Manager. “It’s wonderful to hear them join in the conversation, whether they are a beginner or quite fluent, and I think having students hosting the Language Labs really helps with that – the topics are interesting to their peers, and they want to be part of the chatter. We have some exciting plans ahead, with another French Language Lab coming up, as well as our first language lab in Te Reo Māori, the language of the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand and other Polynesian Countries. We also have a Sign Language Lab planned for next year, which is going to be fun to do on a global scale.”