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Melissa Pflug
Center for Language Technology and Instructional Enrichment

Jennifer Piurek
University Communications

Last modified: Monday, March 2, 2009

IU to host its first World Language Festival

Feb. 26, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana high school students from across the state will converge in Bloomington, March 7, when Indiana University hosts its first-ever World Language Festival. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about subjects as diverse as traditional African drum and dance techniques, ancient Chinese calligraphy, Slavic languages, Germanic celebrations, common French gestures and current cultural issues in the Middle East.

More than 300 students, teachers and parents from approximately 15 Indiana high schools are expected to take part in the event, which begins at 8:30 a.m. in Ballantine Hall, where all of the day's events will take place.

"Learning a new language introduces you to new ideas, customs, and values," said Bennett I. Bertenthal, dean of the Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences. "Fluency in one or more additional languages enriches your personal life, expands your range of professional opportunities, and increases your capabilities to act as a citizen of the world.

"We are pleased to sponsor this event which will introduce Indiana's high-school students to the vast opportunities available to them in foreign language study," Bertenthal added. "We hope the students, parents and educators participating in the event will enjoy the various activities and presentations on display, and will take home a greater appreciation for the diversity of languages and cultures making up our world."

Students and teachers attending the festival can choose from more than 70 presentations taught by IU faculty, visiting lecturers and students studying foreign languages. The presentations are shaped to explore language and culture in exciting and interactive ways.

"The first World Language Festival is like a dream come true," said James C. Chan, director of the Center for Language Technology and Instructional Enrichment (CeLTIE). "The festival provides a unique opportunity for our high school students -- and their teachers and parents -- to explore the abundant world language offerings and resources at IU Bloomington. It is also an unusual platform for language teachers and learners at the college and pre-college levels to share and exchange their interest and knowledge of world languages in Indiana."

Some of this year's presentations include: "The Middle East: Imagined and the Real;" "Taijiquan: The Embodiment of Chinese Philosophy;" "Ram Horns, Raves, and Rings: Medieval Germanic Influences in Modern American Culture;" "Shashu-shashu: Bride-capturing is still alive in Kazakhstan;" "Write Your Name in Korean Calligraphy;" "Family Life in Afghanistan;" "Festival of Fire: Las Fallas de Valencia;" "Yucatec Maya: A Day in the Yucatan -- Um p'é k'ķin t'ichil le' Yucatano" and "A Roaming Home: The Central Asian Yurt."

"The festival aims to celebrate the diverse languages and cultures of our world by highlighting the vast language opportunities offered by IU," said Melissa Pflug, the festival's coordinator.

Jeffrey D. Holdeman, director of IU's Global Village Living-Learning Center and Slavic Language Coordinator and Slavic Undergraduate Advisor, said the festival is a showcase for IU's many languages and the cultures associated with them.

"Through 30-minute crash course introductions, participants can test drive a new language, see a new writing system, take part in dance and games, experience holiday celebrations and traditions, and learn about art and music . . . all from IU educators who they may one day soon have in class," said Holdeman. "And through special, 50-minute sessions, teachers and parents can learn how to facilitate and improve students' learning through new technologies, innovative teaching methods, and original approaches to promoting interest in cultures that are not widely known."

Holdeman also said that while IU's size can be intimidating to some students, the event is designed to show some of the small, close-knit communities within the university, from internationally themed housing options such as the Global Village Living-Learning Center and Foster International to language tables and cultural associations.

"At the same time, attendees will get to see the advantages of a larger university: IU's vast array of language and culture curricular offerings, amazing faculty who study just about everything under the sun, library holdings of more than 6.6 million volumes in over 900 languages to the technology in computer and language labs, which give them access to IU services and resources and knowledge from around the world," he said.

A schedule of events with presentation descriptions, general information and a list of sponsors can be found online at