Foreign language opens gateway to global future for CMS students

Providence High School has been recently designated as a PASCH Schule for its German studies program. It is the first high school in North Carolina to receive this distinction. The PASCH, which stands for the “Schools: Partners for the Future,” is an initiative of the Federal Foreign Office. The aim of PASCH is to create and strengthen a global network of 1,500 partner schools with special links to Germany. The program is designed to awaken and maintain student’s interest and enthusiasm for modern-day Germany and the German language.

Through the N.C. Standards of the Common Core, teachers are preparing students to develop a proficiency in a foreign language versus simply memorizing vocabulary. At Providence, 14 of its 300 students enrolled in German studies chose to take a Deutsches Sprachdiplom, an international exam given throughout the world – similar to the SAT. Students wanted to challenge their expertise on the German culture and language. Their knowledge of Germany and its vernacular resulted in Providence’s PASCH Schule distinction.

“We focus on what you learn in the classroom and teach students how they can apply it in the real world. It isn’t just about earning an ‘A’ at the German AP level,” German teacher Stacy Feldstein said.

“German class is half culture and half language. You have to be able to understand that balance and connection,” senior Stephen Fitch added. “We talk about the education system in Germany, along with other differing cultural aspects. It enlightens us to how things are so different from home.”

Eric Hancock, who is also a senior, already sees the value of acquiring a proficiency in a foreign language. His sister, who also studied German at Providence, currently works with the foreign government.

“There is no doubt that studying German opened up my mind to a whole other world,” said senior Eric Hancock. “In this one class, I get to experience something I never did before.”

Feldstein said, “Students need to be prepared to work with different cultures in business and in politics. We need to know how to seek things from another language. It helps us interact with each other and avoid a lot of misunderstandings. Understanding a foreign society makes you flexible in your thinking and allows you to become a part of a team.”

The school was awarded 1,200 Euros (approximately $1,500) for the PASCH Schule designation. The German teachers will use the funds for new class materials.