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Bringing textbooks to life

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IB Spanish teacher Ms. Sarah Owen has traveled all over the world and has brought those experiences into her classroom. She is fluent in three languages and first studied abroad when she was 18 years old.

Along with the IB curriculum, Ms. Owen strives to teach her students about other cultures that she has lived in. “I learned more interesting expressions that you don’t learn in textbooks by living with families,” Ms. Owen said. “[I brought] those expressions into the classroom so I can take the students beyond the textbook.”

Although she is a Spanish teacher, Ms. Owen brings ideas from non-Spanish speaking countries to her classes as well. Last year, she introduced the Buddhist tradition of meditation. “I’ve seen a difference in my students. They seem more calm, and I encourage them. I’ve had students thank me for just starting class [with] meditation,” Ms. Owen said. “I feel a difference and my students feel a difference and it’s rewarding just to bring it to the classroom.”

Whether as an exchange student or as a teacher, Ms. Owen has learned greatly from her travels. She encourages her students to study overseas to broaden their perspectives. “It just makes a student more global and able to talk on more topics with people around the globe,” Ms. Owen said.  

Ms. Owen believes that learning a new language is a valuable skill that allows people to connect internationally. She hopes that students go beyond introductory classes in order to really learn about the culture they are studying. “I would suggest at least a semester or year [abroad], even if they’re not going to major in the languages,” Ms. Owen said. “I always go back to the fact that knowing people in different cultures opens our eyes and our hearts to understanding the world.”

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The student newspaper of Washington-Lee High School
Bringing textbooks to life