Immersion room allows students to choose how they learn foreign languages

Immersion room allows students to choose how they learn foreign languages
Posted on 12/01/2021
Students work in the MHS immersion roomThe new immersion room opened at Mehlville High School this school year allows students to choose how they learn foreign languages by presenting them with unique, hands-on learning opportunities. 

“The idea for the immersion room came from years of seeing labs in different schools,” said Beth Johnson, Mehlville High French teacher. “We took that idea of labs and turned it into something that was more of a hands-on experience.” Immersion room students play Guess Who?Image: Mehlville High Spanish III students play the game "Guess Who?" by asking and answering questions about the characters in Spanish.

The immersion room has traditional learning methods you would expect to find in a foreign language classroom, like libraries in several different languages. But it also has stations for students to learn in their own way, like board games and video games played in different languages.

“We’ll play the game ‘Guess Who?’,  but we’re asking questions in Spanish as we try to identify who the character is,” said Sara Boric, Mehlville High junior. 

Students also have opportunities to be creative in the course. Boric’s group created a Mount Rushmore featuring presidents of Spanish-speaking countries out of Play-Doh. There’s also a sewing station, 3D printer and laser-engraver that students can use to create physical items related to countries they’re studying. There is also podcast and video equipment students can use to produce digital products in their foreign language.

The back of the immersion room has a kitchen area where students can make authentic meals. Eamon Floyd, Mehlville High junior, was cooking waffles for his classmates and taking their orders in Spanish.
Immersion room kitchen
Image: Mehlville High junior Eamon Floyd makes waffles for his classmates in the immersion room after taking their orders in Spanish.

“We went over how to say different toppings, like strawberries and blueberries, in Spanish,” said Floyd. “I ask my classmates in Spanish how many waffles and toppings they want, and they respond in Spanish.” 

Johnson has noticed a significant improvement in the proficiency of her students this year that she credits to the freedom for students in how they learn information.

“Students are able to go to the immersion room and choose how they want to learn that day,” said Johnson. “In addition to doing the tasks we’re asking of them, they’re doing things related to their interests. They’re growing their proficiency in ways we don’t typically offer to them because they’re making the choice for themselves.” 

Students have the opportunity to visit the immersion room with their foreign language class one or two times per week. In the future, Mehlville High teachers hope to offer more sign up opportunities for students to use the room before or after school.  

Seal of Biliteracy 
The immersion room at Mehlville High School provides students with another opportunity to grow their proficiency in another language to earn the Missouri Seal of Biliteracy
Seal of Biliteracy

The seal is given by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to students who have demonstrated proficiency in English and at least one other language before high school graduation. Students must build a social-cultural portfolio, attend and participate in cultural events and prove they can speak, read and write fluently in multiple languages.

Some colleges and universities will allow students who obtain the Missouri Seal of Biliteracy to have up to six hours allotted to them upon entry to college. 

Students can learn more about the requirements and benefits of the Missouri Seal of Biliteracy by visiting the DESE website or speaking with their counselor, English language arts teacher or foreign language teacher. 

The Mehlville School District strictly prohibits discrimination and harassment against employees, students or others on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, or sex including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity and other characteristics protected by law. The following individuals have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: contact Adam Smith at 314-467-5006 or [email protected].