Enloe High School Students Learn Language Diversity

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From left to right: Rafaela George, Dr. Jim Michnowicz, Emma Cathell, Lucia Planchon, Alex Hyler, Sonya Trawick, and James Shepherd

This year, 50 students from Enloe High School, along with their teacher and NC State Master’s alum Ms. Rafaela George, took part in “Noche de Dialectos” (Night of Dialects) to learn about Spanish dialects and enjoy food and fun.

Planned and organized by NC State faculty and students, who are Sigma Delta Pi  members, “Noche de Dialectos” introduced students to language variation in the hands of Dr. Jim Michnowicz, faculty advisor for Sigma Delta Pi and lead researcher for the Hispanic Linguistics Research Group. The students then attended two information sessions — one where they learned about Spanish in North Carolina, and the second where they learned about dialect zones around the world. Graduate Students Alex Hyler, Sonya Trawick, Emma Cathell, Lucía Planchón, and James Shepherd led these groups.

Dr. Jim Michnowicz gave insight into how the idea began. “It actually started last year when we held “Noche de Poesía” (Poetry Night),” he explains. “As an Honor Society, we really wanted to do something that was both academic and also benefited the community in some way. We contacted Rafaela George at Enloe HS about the possibility of doing a yearly event with her AP students – and they loved the idea.”

The events always take place on campus, because it is important to Sigma Delta Pi that the students experience the essence of NC State University, Daniels hall in particular for “Noche de Dialectos.”

The program aims at emphasizing the beauty of difference in language. “We believe that it’s important to talk to people about dialect diversity,” Dr. Jim Michnowicz states, “and that, linguistically speaking, there are not ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ways to speak – just different. And these differences reflect people’s identities and where they’re from.”

Dr. Jim Michnowicz also sheds light on what Sigma Delta Pi is all about. “Sigma Delta Pi at NC State embodies the NC State idea of taking what we learn from classes and research,” he says, “and taking it out into the community. It’s a great experience for both our students and the Enloe students as well.

The Office of Student Activities at NC State generously funded “Noche de Dialectos.” It is the hope of Dr. Jim Michnowicz and Sigma Delta Pi that the “Noche de…” series and partnership with Enloe High School will continue.

“Noche de Dialectos” is another example of how Foreign Languages and Literatures faculty and graduate students Think and Do.

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