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High school students show off language skills at UNG event

Students from Habersham Central High School celebrate after winning the Language Bowl competition during the 38th annual Modern Language Day.

Hundreds of language students and their teachers participated in the University of North Georgia's 38th Annual Modern Language Day competition on April 11, including one teacher who competed in the event when she was in high school.

Erin Davis, who teaches Spanish at Johnson High School, has been bringing her students to the competition since she started teaching at the school eight years ago. Davis, a UNG alumna, participated in Modern Language Day while a student at Gainesville High School.

"It was such an awesome experience for me to participate in with my teacher and it really has been a big part of my language education," Davis said. "Our students work so hard all year, and we've got some fantastic language students. This is such a great opportunity for them to show off what they can do and see what other students are doing."

The university held the first Modern Language Day in 1975; the annual competition features visual and performing arts and a Language Bowl trivia competition. The winners of the Language Bowl—this year Habersham Central High School beat defending champion Johnson High School—receive a silver bowl that has been presented to winners since the event began.

Tallulah Falls School has been competing in Modern Language Day for 14 years. Stacy Caro, a French teacher at the school, said the event motivates her students to improve their language skills.

"Every year the quality gets a little better among all the students, so we've definitely seen some changes," Caro said. "We're just thrilled to be invited every year and we're so glad that the University of North Georgia provides this opportunity. We really enjoy it."

Artiana Golloshi, a French teacher at Lumpkin County High School, said the number of her students who participate in Modern Language Day has tripled in the last four years and a growing number of her students are studying multiple languages.

"They are talented and they love foreign languages, and this is a place where they can show how good they are,” Golloshi said. "They can also meet other students who are interested in foreign language and interested in learning more about languages and about the world."

Modern Language Day judges
University of North Georgia professors act as judges
during the Language Bowl competition, listening
carefully to students' responses.
Before the event began, students set up myriad visual projects they had constructed to highlight interesting facets of the culture of their chosen language. As judges toured the creations, groups of students took the stage to perform short skits and musical numbers to showcase their language skills. The performances and exhibits are judged by UNG professors.

Alvaro Torres Calderon, assistant professor of Spanish at UNG, has been overseeing the event for the past five years. He agreed with teachers that the competition motivates students, but this event and other cultural activities the university sponsors also help increase global awareness and understanding in students and the community.

"That's something positive that involves the university, the community, the students and the teachers," Calderon said. "Knowing a language facilitates learning about the culture, which includes different aspects such as religion, politics, history, and customs and traditions. Even gestures are important in various parts of the world."

Calderon said UNG's Division of World Languages and Cultures hopes to continue expanding the event, which has grown steadily since its inception. In addition to Modern Language Day, UNG also offers the Federal Service Language Academy for high school students each summer. The unique program combines fitness, federal service advisement and language immersion.

UNG's Division of World Languages and Cultures, which includes the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and the Department of Spanish, offers courses in 10 languages— Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Russian, and Spanish. UNG offers a Bachelor of Arts in modern languages with concentrations in Arabic, Chinese, French or Spanish. The university also offers the Summer Language Institute and the Intensive Language Programs in Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Russian for college students.

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