The goal of the World Language Program at Bedford’s Davis School is “to build a foundation of common bonds to help students reach out and communicate with people from all walks of life, and to encourage diversity and inclusion within the community through exposure to foreign languages,” according to volunteer coordinator Elinor Gefen-Rotstein.
The program, started and maintained by BEST/PTO volunteers around 25 years ago, is currently looking for volunteers to teach elementary school students for 30 minutes once per week for two of the upcoming six-week sessions.
Gefen-Rotstein explained the program, saying, “Volunteer parents lead interactive lessons in their native language, introducing students to new vocabulary, grammar concepts, and cultural traditions. Students learn about different countries and cultures through songs, games, stories, and hands-on activities. They also have the opportunity to practice speaking and listening to the new language in a fun and supportive environment.”
Students and volunteers meet in the Davis School library before school starts (around 8:30 a.m.) in groups of around six first- and second-grade students per volunteer. Volunteers do not need any previous teaching experience and are encouraged to develop their own curriculum for lessons, though guidance can be given by other volunteers. The program is free to students with some supplies provided with BEST/PTO funding.
Gefen-Rotstein started volunteering for the program when her eldest daughter was in first grade. “As an Israeli immigrant, this program is close to my heart. Being able to encourage a sense of inclusion and belonging for my children and their friends is priceless.
“I was so moved to see my daughter’s friends attending my Hebrew class simply because they wanted to learn about the language my daughter speaks at home.”
In addition to some introductory language vocabulary, the World Language Program “also helps to promote cultural understanding and appreciation.” Instructors share different customs, traditions, and holidays. Students have the opportunity to build bonds and develop a deeper appreciation for the diversity in the Bedford Public Schools community at a young age.
In the past, World Language Program volunteers have offered sessions in Mandarin, Italian, Spanish, French, Japanese, Russian, Hindi, German, Arabic, Hebrew, and American Sign Language, and are open to any languages spoken by Bedford Public Schools families.
Sessions begin in February. No experience is necessary to volunteer. A CORI/SORI check will be required through the Bedford Public Schools.
Anyone interested in teaching a foreign language through the World Language program or find out more information should fill out the volunteer form here or email Elinor Gefen-Rotstein at [email protected].