Manchester High making strides in foreign language education

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND Observer staff reporter

Monday, April 24, 2017    

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Head of the Modern Languages Department at the Manchester High School, Petrena Ledgister, says that learning a foreign language can reap rich rewards, both on a personal and professional levels.

“It broadens the scope for communication and is an asset to any institution and (career path),” she said.

For those reasons, Ledgister said that with a team of nine other people in the department at the school, who teach French and Spanish, and the support of administrators, they ensure that it remains an active and current one.

Just last month the institution had its fourth Modern Languages Celebration, where other educational institutions were invited, and the culture of French- and Spanish-speaking countries was expressed in ways such as the modelling of clothing and through songs, dance and an official march.

Embedded in the activities was also the impact that the cultures of these countries has had on the Jamaican culture.

Ledgister told Jamaica Observer Central that in line with the National Standard Curriculum, her institution strives for integration of the various subject areas in the teaching and learning of the languages.

Noting some of the achievements of the last year, she said one of the French teachers from the department accompanied students interested in the subject on a trip to Canada to further their skills in the language. Parents who went also benefited from the experience, she said.

On a visit to Kingston both French and Spanish students had enriching experiences, she said, as one set was part of a Touch of France exhibition there, and the other had the chance to explore a Colombian ship that was docked in the harbour dowtown.

Ledgister said that there has been a more than 15 per cent increase in the pass rate of both subjects at the sitting of the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) level in 2016 compared to 2015.

She said that French and Spanish in the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) from the school have maintained a 100 per cent pass rate in both units One and Two.

The modern languages educator said that the school has done inter-form matches in the subject areas to make them fun and help to improve the knowledge of students.

She said that students are also benefiting through workshops with other schools and did well in a recent debating competition.

Ledgister added that outreach is encouraged through the language clubs at the school, and last December the Francophile Club donated monetary gift and toys to the Bustamante Hospital for Children. She said that there have also been repeated visits and gifts to the New Hope Children’s Home in Manchester by the Modern Languages Club.

“More (CSEC) students have registered to sit both languages [this year], especially Spanish,” said an enthused Ledgister, adding that it is a move that the Ministry of Education is encouraging.

One of the highlights of the recent Modern Languages Day, which was also a celebration of Francophone week, was the crowning of a French King and Queen of the Year for the period 2015-2016.

Shara Gabriel was selected as queen for gaining a grade one in CSEC French that school year, while in fourth form and Kevaughn Stewart earned the title as king with a grade two pass, as he was the only male student who did the subject at that level.





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