By: Bryan Geary
Today, Tilton’s Spanish II and Spanish III classes have coalesced into one group for an interactive scavenger hunt. Designed by faculty members Julie Caldwell and Chris Komisarek, the exercise serves several purposes. First, it reinforces the arduous vocabulary work that is fundamental to the study of a foreign language. Second, it gets them up and moving in order to apply that knowledge on the fly. Lastly, it offers an opportunity for the classes to work together and learn from one another.
“I’d love to do this type of thing even more than we do,” said Caldwell, who teaches the Level II class. While her students have mastered the basics, they benefit from working with Level III students, who at this point are starting to apply their understanding to more nuanced aspects of the language and culture. “If you can explain something to your peers, it challenges your own understanding and helps to expand it.”
Expanding understanding is something of particular importance to Komisarek, who recalled his first Spanish class as a “lightbulb” moment in his educational experience. “When I stepped into a Spanish classroom it made me realize how hundreds of millions of people are different than me. It just made me want to travel and learn more about different cultures, traditions, and people. Eventually, I had a chance to get my master’s in Spain because I speak Spanish. I want students to understand that different perspectives are out there and speaking another language is an opportunity to communicate with people from around the globe.”
Sara ’23 reflected on a recent project that compared the definitions of similar words between languages. The subtle differences illustrate the perspectives her teacher referenced. “There are not always perfect translations,” she said. “I enjoy learning about the culture through these nuances in language.”
Split into small groups, the students begin to transition from the initial vocabulary exercise into the scavenger hunt phase. This movement is essential to understanding, according to Komisarek, who bounces from table to table answering questions and offering affirmations.
“I’m always doing some kind of race or competition,” he said. “Many of these students are athletes, and I think that friendly sense of play or competition resonates with them and creates an environment where we can learn from one another. My hope is to get them as excited as I was when I began learning Spanish.”