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A Round Square A Level Spanish Experience

At Felsted we are fortunate enough to welcome pupils undertaking a Round Square exchange from a range of countries. Their presence always enriches our community and sound friendships are formed. Each January we receive a pupil from Markham College in Peru (a school Lydia Townsend and James Perkins have visited separately on exchanges from Felsted). Each year, I always invite the Peruvian pupils to present in Spanish to some of my classes and they are always informative and very keen to be involved. This year we are pleased to host Nicole Gaige in Stocks’s. As James Perkins is taking Spanish A Level this year, I thought it would be good to ‘reunite’ them as his exchange partner Lucas Quesada Sandoval is one of Nicole’s friends. Therefore, the pupils were invited to a cookery lesson where they would a) cook a traditional South American dish and b) speak in Spanish for the whole lesson with English banned.

This coincided with the introduction of a new topic from the A Level specification - ‘The role of customs and traditions’, where the pupils learn about the role and importance of the gastronomy from different South American cultures, exploring the historical, economic and social context. Fiora Moscuzza undertook a Round Square exchange to Colombia last year. She and James had wonderful experiences on their exchanges and learned so much about the culture. Of course their spoken language also improved significantly.

Mrs Guerrero our Head of English as an Additional Language led the class. With absolutely no knowledge of the language before she went, Sra Guerrero travelled by coach from London to Barcelona, where she lived from 1991-1993, then to Sevilla for a year. She then decided that an adventure further afield should be pursued and went to live in Colombia and Ecuador (from 1995-2002). As would be expected, this group of A Level students are learning Spanish at a high level, with a necessary focus on exam techniques etc. However, it is important for our young people to realise that if you move to another country you WILL learn the language if you make an effort to do so.

Mrs Guerrero’s story embodies the Round Square pillars of Internationalism and Adventure. After the class, Mrs Guerrero had positive feedback about the group:

‘Learning to do something new in a foreign language, such as how to cook a new recipe, is the most meaningful way to learn and embed new vocabulary. The pupils were wholly engaged and motivated, and it was wonderful to hear them using Spanish to communicate with each other.

She taught us all to cook Arepas, which are common and delicious maize breads eaten daily in Colombia and Venezuela, and dating from pre-columbian times. They are served plain with a main meal, or can be served with cheese, meats, chicken and avocado, and also be split to make sandwiches. We made them with cheese, and a salsa of lime juice, tomato, coriander, salt and onion and the end result was delicious.'