Teachers Alexis Morford, Caitlin McCaffrey, Pamo Collado and Leo DeLaRosa and students from Richards High School in Oak Lawn visit France's Eiffel Tower during their recent trip to Europe. | Supplied photo
Updated: July 4, 2014 2:10AM
Walking through a park in Madrid, a Richards High School student turned to Spanish teacher Pam Collado and identified the characters from Don Quixote on a statue during a recent trip to Europe, according to a press release from the school.
The exchange epitomized the trip through Spain and France and, for the teachers who planned the adventure, provided a moment of professional joy, the release said.
The student “expressed how exciting it was to see what she had learned in class,” Alexis Morford, one of four Richards teachers who chaperoned students on the trip, said in the release. “She was so proud that she could identify the characters of the famous novel before the guide pointed them out.”
As an educational experience, speaking a foreign language in its native land provided a rich exercise, according to the release.
“The students were really able to make connections with things they learned in class, and were also able to use the language. I think it was a very eyeopening and humbling experience for them,” Morford said in the release.
“For many students, this was their first time traveling to Europe, and many of them expressed a desire to come back. That is a language teacher’s dream to hear,” French teacher Caitlin McCaffrey said.
Traveling through Toledo, Madrid, Paris and Giverny, students absorbed their surroundings.
“I know all of us felt they were asking amazing questions about history, art and daily life in the countries. Some students focused on the architecture, others engaged with the tour guides, and some were open to eating anything,” Morford said in the release.
The Richards group witnessed a historic moment in Spain: King Juan Carlo abdicated the throne to his son. Students particularly enjoyed the Royal Palace in Madrid and the Eiffel Tower.
“Many students really enjoyed Giverny, too. It gave many of them a chance to practice their photography skills and enjoy the beauty of nature they had only ever seen in paintings,” McCaffrey said in the release.
Traveling with their teachers, students applied their language skills while gaining the perspective that comes with visiting a foreign land.
“We want them to develop an appreciation for other cultures. Many of them also said that they felt a huge sense of accomplishment and pride when they could communicate with people in French or Spanish and be understood,” McCaffrey said. “They really saw language in action. Our tour guide could speak six languages, so they could really see how speaking another language could help them in their futures.”