UW to host World Languages Day 2019

Ian Caldon, playing the charango, Zamboni Brown, playing the zampoña, and Klara Oligschlaeger, playing the quena, practice for World Languages Day.

The University of Wyoming will host the annual World Languages Day on March 8-9. World Languages Day is a statewide competition that not only brings students in grades six through 12 together to compete against one another, but to also give a better understanding of language and why it is so important.

According to the University Wyoming website, “In 2018, UW hosted 268 visiting secondary students and 32 teachers from across the state. In addition, the event gave 32 UW student interns and 12 student volunteers a chance to learn about the efforts involved in planning such a large event.”

Events like this puts the term “language” back in the limelight. Ian Caldon, a English and Spanish as a second language instructor at Laramie County Community College and a judge for the World Languages Day competition, said that he asks his students at the beginning of each semester what the term language means and the answer that he is searching for is culture.

“It’s more than just semantics, syntax, and linguistics. There is sometimes no words at all to communicate sometimes. It’s an action and it’s part of a culture,” Caldon said.

Caldon also said that by learning two languages, students are more advanced in other areas and become more successful.

In addition to serving as a judge for the competition, Caldon also hosts workshops for the students around Laramie County School District #1, as well as World Languages Day. and has been doing so for the last five years. He said he first became involved in World Languages Day when a colleague of his contacted him to see if he’d like to  judge skits and poems. During his second year with the event, he was asked by the University of Wyoming to conduct workshops after his success with the workshops that he had done here at Laramie County School District #1 with various music majors.

During these workshops, he would bring different instruments such as the Cajon, which according to Caldon, “is an Afro-Peruvian instrument.” It was during this time that he came up with the idea to talk with the university about doing workshops over there with the junior high and high school students.

“I proposed it to World Languages Day, because they need people to do workshops, because the kids come down for the whole weekend,” Caldon said. “They said, ‘sure, come and do it’ and ever since, they have been asking us back to do our workshop for the high school and junior high kids with all of these different instruments.”

In addition to leading workshops at World Language Day, Caldon goes out to elementary schools with other LCCC students to teach students about the culture and significance of these different instruments. By doing this, Caldon hopes to instill at a young age how music plays a key part in the cultural part of language.

“Over spring break, any elementary schools that will host us or whatever school, we will go out there, show them the instruments and try to plant a seed of culture in a third-grade class,  or a fourth-grade class, first-grade class and also teach them about language already and how it is culture in conjunction with music,” Caldon said. “Its a co-curricular activity.”

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