Foreign language housing helps students learn languages



    Whether it is bienvenido or herzlich wilkommen, students are finding life at the Foreign Language Student Residence welcomes not only opportunities to perfect their language skills, but also exposes them to a variety of cultures.

    “The best part is the mixture of cultures and the open minded attitude of the residents,” said Nathan Henry, 24, a senior from Altamont, Duchesne, majoring in psychology.

    The mixture of cultures at the Foreign Language House include Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Russian and Arabic.

    Students living in the complex promise to speak one of the nine languages in all of their interactions with roommates.

    With a variety of activities offered, students receive many lessons in these foreign cultures, especially on Sundays, said Tiffany Jackson, 19, a sophomore from Las Vegas, Nev., majoring in agronomy.

    “Each week the sacramental prayers are given in different languages. For example, one week the prayer will be given in Japanese and German,” Jackson said.

    Sacrament meeting, Priesthood and Relief Society are given in English. However, students can continue their study of foreign languages in Sunday School. Students can attend a Sunday School lesson taught in any of the languages, Jackson said.

    “I love the ward. It is like a microcosm of the Church,” said Paul Hunter, 23, a senior from Sandy, Salt Lake County, majoring in economics.

    In addition to their church meetings, students conduct monthly ward dinners where a specific culture is spotlighted, Henry said.

    “Once we had a visitor from Egypt who spoke to us,” Henry said.

    Listening and speaking foreign languages are not limited to Sundays. Students eat dinner together regularly, said Rosalia Rodriguez, 21, a junior from Buenos Aires, Argentina, majoring in psychology.

    As a resident facilitator, the equivalent of a resident assistant in other on-campus housing facilities, Rodriguez is responsible for organizing food assignments and monthly Family Home Evening activities.

    “The first Monday of every month we are in charge of putting on a FHE in the language,” Rodriguez said.

    Students are finding that continual exposure to the language is assisting them in their retention, said M. Melinda Bevan, 19, a sophomore from Bluffdale, Salt Lake County, majoring in Latin American studies.

    “It makes you think in the language,” Bevan said.

    Melissa Sundell, 21, a senior from Las Vegas, Nev., majoring in Spanish said she agrees that living in the Foreign Language Student Residence helps with language mastery.

    “I have a chance to learn a language that otherwise I wouldn’t,” Sundell said.

    “It is a student’s dream because you are continually learning in various situations,” Jackson said.

    In addition to learning one language, many students find that living in the Foreign Language Student Residence excites them to learn additional languages, Bevan said.

    “It gives you a thrill for learning languages, so I’m taking Japanese right now,” said Bevan, who lives in the Spanish house.

    “Once you move into the complex you feel like a loser only speaking two languages. It’s only when you know six or seven that you’re tops,” said Michael Rushforth, 26, a graduate student in Spanish linguistics.

    However, Henry cautions students to not be intimidated.

    Henry, who lives in the Spanish house, never took a class in the language before living there.

    “I just jumped in without taking any classes and started learning,” Henry said.

    Edgar Gomez, 24, a senior from Mexico City, Mexico, majoring in management information systems, agrees that students do not need a strong foundation in a language before living in the house.

    Gomez, who is living in the French house, speaks Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French and English.

    “You can always find someone to help you,” Gomez said.

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