When kids learn foreign language through opera, they learn about music, culture, and the way that world languages can be used.
Students at Westerly Middle School had an opportunity to hear opera arias in various languages, as Salt Marsh Opera singers Simon Holt and Brian Cheney sang arias in a variety of languages. Some were hearing opera for the first time.
“It helps to make it ‘real world’ for them,” Ide Koulbanis, a French teacher, said. “It takes them out of the classroom setting and helps them to understand the everyday application of the language.”
“We’re always hearing our teachers talk,” said Diana Turano, who is studying Italian. “It’s nice to hear the language through singing. It’s just a different way to learn.”
In the fifth grade, students study world cultures. In sixth and seventh grades they take exploratory languages, and have a choice of Spanish, French, or Italian.
“The earlier students study a language, the better and further they’ll progress,” Italian teacher Catena Bellone said. “Studies show that students who take dual languages do better on tests and in their other classes.”