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Priory students race through a 17-language marathon | News

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Priory students race through a 17-language marathon
News, Schools

How do you say, "Where's the toilet?" in Swedish? How about, "I am hungry" in Farsi? Or  "I love you" in a variety of languages?

St. Andrew's Priory students in grades six through 12 had a chance to find out as they were exposed to 17 different languages in a rare cultural smorgasbord on Monday, March 5.

It was Priory's first World Language Fair and it was the brainchild of  teacher Natalie Hansen who mined campus and community to find someone to teach each language, including a number of native speakers.

The students had two hours to complete a minimum of five language classes for credit. At the end of each class each student had a "passport" stamped to certify she took the class. Many of the girls managed to take more than a half dozen of the crash courses.

The native speakers included  guest instructors from Italy, Sweden, Pakistan, and Turkey.

One was Swedish-born Fredrik Bjurenvall, a marketing consultant, who flew in from London the night before but spent two hours answering a myriad of questions about his language. He obliged the girls by telling them how to find a bathroom, how to say they're hungry, and how to say thank you. Bjurenvall, who is in town to coordinate charity teams and manage the website for Sunday's inaugural "Hapalua" half marathon,  did what many of the teachers that day did. He offered some basic principles of his language and then let the students request what they wanted to learn.

" 'I love you' " seemed to be a very popular phrase to learn," said Bjurenvall, who taught a total of 70 students. 

Some instructors, like the ones who taught the Pakistani and Ukrainian languages, appeared in native dress.

The classes lasted about 10 minutes each and students raced from classroom to classroom, sampling as many languages as they could.

Also on the language menu were Russian, Ukrainian, Norwegian, Vietnamese, Burmese, Malayalam, Thai, Farsi. German, Indonesian, Spanish, and Cantonese.

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