BYU foreign language choirs give students culturally immersive experience

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Fusing language and music together, BYU’s College of Humanities’ language choir classes provide students a culturally immersive and creative approach to language-learning.

“French choir is like a more low level way of staying involved with the language and keeping up with it,” Trevor Smith, French choir director, said.

According to Scandinavian choir director Oscar Safsten, the language choirs expose students to cultural traditions and languages they’re unfamiliar with, helping stretch their understanding.

“Not everyone’s served a mission in a Scandinavian country and no one has served in more than one Scandinavian country, so it’s pretty standard that everyone speaks only one or no languages from Scandinavia,” Safsten said.

Singing also gives students a better grasp on pronunciation, Safsten said.

“You’re working all the time with vowels and consonants … it’s a really low demand, but high reward class,” he said.

Este Stringham is a violinist in the Spanish musical performance class. Participating has improved her Spanish skills and allowed her to really get into the culture, Stringham said.

“I think that the songs, too, kind of represent the soul of the people and it’s been really beautiful,” she said.

According to Stringham, music brings people together, especially amid cultural and language differences.

“Music is one of those things that everybody can understand,” she said.

All students are welcome to join BYU’s language choirs, regardless of if they speak the language, Smith said.

“That’s one of our big things. It’s like, come one, come all,” he said.

Those interested in exploring language and culture through music can visit BYU’s Center for Language Studies website.

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