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Children, Languages, World program to continue in spring semester



Bloomington, Indiana – The Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies will continue to sponsor the Bridges: Children, Languages, World initiative, which teaches kids less-commonly taught languages in schools and organizations throughout Monroe County.

Bridges: Children, Languages, World’s chief coordinator According to Wes Steele, the program uses interactive teachings like games, activities, songs, and movies to increase kids’ awareness, interest, and comprehension of other cultures.

“Bridges offers local children, schools, and community centers a unique opportunity to gain exposure to languages and cultures rarely taught in the United States, especially at the elementary school level,” Steele said.

Nine schools and organizations in Bloomington will collaborate with the initiative during the spring semester. Mandarin, Greek, Hindi, Kiswahili, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, and Turkish will all be available on the program.

“(The program) builds a bridge between many countries and their cultures,” IU Ph.D. student Yasemin Kole said. “The program is tremendously beneficial for the students because encountering another world through language and culture at early ages will help children have a more diverse understanding and respectful, peaceful acceptance of others.”

Undergraduate and graduate students with a focus on language and area studies are coached by Steele. The Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies worked with the School of Education to establish six national resource centers that teach culture, languages, and international education after receiving $16.3 million from the U.S. Department of Education. According to Steele, the program provides student educators with the fundamentals of creating language and culture curricula.

“For the IU students teaching in the program, it is an excellent opportunity to not only practice their language skills but also to share invaluable cultural knowledge from other countries with young and curious American elementary school students,” IU junior and program volunteer Erol Algan said.

For the previous three semesters, Algan, a student of folklore and central Eurasian studies with a minor in Russian, has been a Turkish teacher in the Bridges program.

“In the U.S., unfortunately, our teaching of geography and cultures outside our own is insufficient,” Algan said. “Through this program, students gain access to a wealth of knowledge about other countries and the languages spoken there.”

The program, according to Steele, will run from February until April. On January 26, there will be a required volunteer orientation meeting. Students who are interested may email Steele at [email protected].

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