The Modern Foreign Languages Day has now become an annual event in the NorthGate College calendar of events. Each year, specific aspects of Spanish and French culture are highlighted in an attempt to generate interest and enthusiasm for the languages studied at the College. This year, the day was celebrated with a Theatre Festival.
The aim of this activity was to allow the students to engage with the languages they have been studying in a very practical way. Each Form was asked to present a play in one of the foreign languages. Some performed adapted versions of well-known stories, such as The Three Little Pigs, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and King Midas, while others created their own.
A high level of commitment, effort and overall aptitude in the languages was required for this type of event, and our students rose to the occasion. Understandably, they were nervous about performing in a foreign language in front of their teachers and the entire student population. However, the more they practised, the more enthused and excited they became and the result was performances which were thoroughly enjoyed by staff and students alike.
Special mention must be made of the Form 3 year group, whose students were asked to present dramatic pieces in both Spanish and French. For French, they combined and adapted two plays that they had presented as course-work assignments in the second term of the academic year. They created a suspenseful but comedic depiction of the well-known character, Dracula, as he tried to “win the heart” of an innocent Oompa Loompa (a.k.a. his dinner) from a chocolate factory. Their Spanish play was entirely original and centred on a maid with ninja skills who saves a prince from a power-hungry robot! The execution was even more impressive than the concept and this turned out to be the highlight of the afternoon’s performances.
The students’ talent for the dramatic arts was on full display and special mention must be made of a few of them. The afternoon’s MCs – Arnold Graham, Johanna Jordan, Kimberly Leed and Brandon Wooding were funny, entertaining and kept the audience engaged in between performances. Arnold Graham’s performance as ‘le grand méchant loup’ or The Big Bad Wolf had audience members literally on the edge of their seats as he roved through the hall in character. Ethan Wilson’s portrayal of Dracula did not frighten the audience but certainly was reflective of the character’s confidence and charisma. And no one could forget Joshua Durity’s delivery as the town crier and the extended Spanish name that he rattled off in Spanish!
While there was teacher input throughout the preparation process, the students were the ones who were primarily responsible for managing their practice sessions, organizing and building their props, stage-managing and even hosting the festival on the day. It served not only as a foreign language exercise, but evidently allowed them to use the skills that they acquired in the Drama courses at the College. The major lesson that the students learned was that what they can accomplish is directly related to the amount of effort that they expend. This is certainly a valuable lesson to learn as a student, but it is also an important life skill that they will take with them into the future.