Innovation at BBS - Part 2 - Languages and Culture


In our last post, I mentioned that it was the first in a two-part series looking at the thought of innovation at Brainerd Baptist School. I talked about the culture of innovation that we have worked hard to create. If done correctly, I believe this type of culture encourages our faculty to be risk takers and try new things. Many of the innovative things we do that make our program unique have come from teachers in our building. The expectation for our faculty is that they are life-long learners who are constantly working to become better teachers. We want them to try new experiences and techniques. The blog post below is another example. We utilize an “exposure” model and strongly believe that our students benefit from being exposed to many different types of learning in various subjects. I am really excited about what we are offering our students this year in foreign language. Baylor School does something similar to this in their middle school and I have always thought it was great for students. In the post below, our Spanish teacher April Connell explains the fun things we are doing with our students this year.

The BBS Language and Cultures class
April Connell

This year, BBS 4th & 5th grade students will begin a new journey in their language classes. Instead of remaining focused on only one language (Spanish) throughout the year, students will now have the opportunity to discover three additional languages and their cultures. After researching many of the local middle and high school language offerings, Ms. Connell gathered a list of the most common ones that BBS graduates would have the option to choose from at their future schools. By exposing the students to an array of choices, they will leave BBS, not only better prepared to make their language selections in middle school, but also with a greater understanding of the world around them.

There will be four different languages and cultures taught this year, following the school’s quarter system. These are (in order): Spanish, Latin, Chinese (Mandarin), and German. Each year, the fourth quarter offering will flip-flop between German and French, allowing fourth grade students the opportunity to experience a taste of both before graduating. Basic vocabulary, most common phrases, and correct pronunciation will be explained and practiced. Geography, including map studies and virtual travels using Google maps will be employed. Cultural highlights, including holidays, traditions, and pop culture will be explored, along with studying a brief history of the language’s origin and of the people who speak it. Students will create or experience a form of art, both literarily and thru a hands-on activity, that relates to each culture. They will also have the opportunity to try a “taste” of the different cultures with various samplings of popular foods associated with each unit.  All five senses will truly be engaged! 

The students have already shown great enthusiasm towards this new and exciting class, and Ms. Connell is anticipating a unique and fun year ahead. This creative approach to learning is just another way that Brainerd Baptist School is expanding minds and preparing hearts in its students.

Sean Corcoran