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Culture in the Classroom

If culture is our roots, then knowledge must be the tree from which they grow. At CFIS we often talk about our students being global citizens, about how we seek to provide them with a perspective that far reaches beyond their comfort zone. By utilizing the teachings and experiences found through our complementary programs: Round Square, UNESCOIB, and Travel Studies, our students are exposed to cultures from all around the globe. 

Of course, being a full French immersion school, the assumption would be that our students are well versed in the cultures of other French-speaking communities, and this is true. But that's only one part of our Global Citizen goal. Exposure to peoples from all walks of life, both today and throughout history, in study and experience help our students bridge the gap between where, as a society, we have come from and who we will grow to be.

This is why today, Cinco de Mayo, seemed the perfect opportunity to focus on the international aspect of Calgary French & International School, by talking about our Spanish Language Studies.  

First a little context: Cinco de Mayo or the fifth of May is often regarded as a day to celebrate Spanish, and especially Mexican, culture. It "celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War", not to be confused with Mexico's Independence day which is celebrated in September.  

Much like St. Patrick's Day is a far bigger celebration in North America than it is in Ireland, Cinco de Mayo is the same. Nevertheless, the date serves as an opportunity to talk about Spanish culture, and for us at CFIS to discuss the benefits of being multi-lingual.

We've talked many times before about the benefits of French immersion (in fact you can download an entire infographic here). French immersion education is great for brain development, it helps improve first language skills, and it opens doors for post-secondary education and careers. All the same, is true of Spanish. 

But why is Spanish chosen as the third language taught at CFIS? 

Why not Mandarin? Or Farsi? 

Wait for it...

Because French and Spanish share the same linguistic root. "When the Spanish and French languages are compared in this way, they are said to have a lexical similarity of 75 percent." 

Not only are they both from Latin roots, but they both also use masculine and feminine nouns, both have similar conjunctions, and both use similar accent markers.  

All of which is to say that becoming familiar with one will aid in learning the other, and subsequently other Latin-based languages. When you can relate to a language it becomes far easier to understand, connect to another culture and grow to become a global citizen.

If you think of language like food, and Latin as a high-quality grocery store full of ingredients there are no limits as to what you could learn to cook. Maybe a French pastry, perhaps Italian gnocchi, a Portuguese Caldo Verde, or maybe -today on Cinco de Mayo - Spanish chilaquiles.