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Ninety-seven high school students from across North Carolina participated in the fourth annual Learning through Languages High School Research Symposium, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University on February 1, 2019. The event was organized by six area studies centers at UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke, including the UNC African Studies Center; Carolina Asia Center; Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies; UNC Center for European Studies; UNC Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies; and the UNC-Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

The symposium provided a unique opportunity for North Carolina world language students to showcase their language, research and presentation skills by investigating a contemporary global issue. Participating students are studying Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian or Spanish, including heritage speakers.

Students presented their original research at the symposium in the FedEx Global Education Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. They researched current issues across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and Russia and East Europe in their language of study. Their presentations were judged by UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke faculty, staff and graduate students.

“Every year I look forward to participating as a judge because I see the high school students excel at the challenge of researching and presenting important topics in another language. Providing a venue where the students interact in multiple languages LTL sends a very positive message about the value of language diversity,” said Joan Clifford, assistant professor of the practice in the Spanish Language Program in the Department of Romance Studies at Duke University.

The area studies centers partnered with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction World Languages department to plan the program, collaborating on a webinar in September featuring information about the symposium and resources for world language study.

Thirty-six teams from the following high schools participated: Cannon School, Carrboro High School, Chapel Hill High School, Chatham Charter School, Durham Academy, East Chapel Hill High School, East Mecklenburg High School, Isaac Bear Early College, C.E. Jordan High School, KIPP Pride High, Lincoln Charter School, Marvin Ridge High School, Parkland High School, Saint Mary’s School and Southern Wayne High School.

Teachers have reported that the greatest benefits of their students’ participation in the symposium include using oral and written expression in a practical, content-based project; engaging in global studies and learning about the world; and participating in cooperative learning.

Twenty-six different awards were given for student projects. Teams of two or three students competed for honors in best overall research projects in each world region track; intermediate and advanced awards related to scholarship, project visuals and use of written and oral language; and a students’ choice award. The organizers congratulate all students who participated.


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