Nearly 1,400 high school students visited the Tempe campus on Tuesday to participate in the 15th annual Language Fair, an event where they can experience the many different languages that ASU offers.
The event, hosted by the School of International Letters and Cultures, was organized by French professor Shannon Peyton this year. She said the students not only got to learn about the languages, but they were also exposed to the culture.
“We have dance demonstrations and mini lessons,” she said. “If they know Spanish already, but they don’t know Hebrew, they can maybe come and learn a little bit of Hebrew.”
Some of the students also participated in language competitions that included recitation, role play and poster designing.
Many informational booths filled the Arizona Ballroom in the Memorial Union where the high school students could ask University students and faculty about the languages.
“The students will sometimes prepare some kind of entertainment and then perform that,” Peyton said. “There’s lots of different things for them to do and experience.”
The main goals of the fair are to show students the variety of languages they could potentially study at ASU and help them realize how many languages and cultures exist worldwide, Peyton said.
Victoria Moreno, who teaches Spanish at Apache Junction High School, said almost 200 students from her school participated in the event.
Some of the students Moreno teaches participated in the poster and role playing competitions and received many awards.
Moreno has been teaching Spanish for three years and plans to return with her students next year.
“It’s very good for the students to come here and see that language is appreciated,” she said. “They love it. They want to have fun and learn different things.”
Matthew Sielaff, a sophomore at Chandler Preparatory Academy, participated in the German role play competition. This was Sielaff’s second year attending the Language Fair.
Sielaff said he does not know whether he wants to continue studying a foreign language when he is in college.
“I liked that most of the information for taking another language is available on all the tables, so you could see how the process works,” he said. “My sister goes (to ASU), and my dad went here, so it’s obviously on the menu, but I’ll have to see.”
Sielaff said the event was a good opportunity to learn about different cultures and he enjoyed watching the dances, especially K-Pop.
“There’s a lot of different things to do and there’s a lot of languages represented,” he said. “I liked being able to write your own name in other languages and how you could copy them in your own sheet.”
Wakana Mizutani, an exchange student from Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan, was in charge of Japanese calligraphy at the fair. She wrote the students’ names phonetically with Chinese characters.
“It was fun,” she said. “High school students are energetic. They were excited to get their names.”
Mizutani said some of the names were challenging because she did not know any characters that recreated the sound, so she had to use her dictionary often.
Japanese lecturer Tomoko Shimomura asked Mizutani to participate in the event. Shimomura has been at ASU for 12 years and has taken part in the fair each year.
Shimomura said Japan imported the writing system Kanji from China around the year 400 and now have three writing systems, including the Japanese syllabary Hiragana.
More than 40 students participated in the Japanese language competition in a recitation contest, where students had to memorize a poem and then recite it in front of others.
“I’m always surprised that high school students are really interested in learning new cultures,” she said. “Sometimes they don’t know we have so many different script systems, and they are so amazed.”
Other activities included an international karaoke, in which students got to sing in different languages.
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