Students learn to Salsa on Foreign Language Music Day

February 20 2007

WHAT: Foreign Language Music Day
(February is national Discover Languages Month)

WHEN: 2 p.m. and 7 to 10:30 p.m., Wednesday, February 21

WHERE: Indiana State University

WHO: More than 500 students in 100-level language courses; and 100+ students in advanced foreign language courses will be learning traditional dances and other music-related skills that have a connection to their foreign language study

WHY: Music is a great way to learn about culture, and knowing a culture helps when learning the language. In our global society, knowing a second language is highly desirable.


1. Spanish Class Learning to Salsa:
2 p.m., Feb. 21, Holmstead Hall, Room 20
Instructor Lucy Campbell, who is from Colombia, will teach her students some traditional Hispanic dances, such as the Salsa and Merengue, in the manner that they are danced at social events and family gatherings. This is different than ballroom-style dancing.

2. Why Learning a Foreign Language is Important:
1:45 to 2:45 p.m., Feb. 21, Root Hall Lounge
Professor Ron Dunbar, chair of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics at ISU, will be available to speak on the philosophy of: "Major in anything, Minor in a language." The hallways in Root Hall also are lined with posterettes featuring interesting facts from various foreign languages taught at ISU, such as Arabic, German and Japanese.

3. Hispanic Dance Lessons
7 to 10:30 p.m., Feb. 21, Sycamore Lounge (near LeClub), HMSU
The Hispanic Student Association at ISU will be offering free Salsa and Merengue lessons in the traditional manner that is popular at social events and family gatherings in Hispanic countries. This is different than ballroom-style dancing.


"The integration of culture into our foreign language classes is nothing new for us, but the concerted effort to have a common focus on the same day, in all foreign language classes and at all levels, with the goal of creating an energy on campus about language is new," said Lisa Calvin, associate professor of Spanish and coordinator of Basic Studies for Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics. "Knowing another language opens doors into a foreign culture that remain closed without the access that language offers."

During Foreign Language Music Day, instructors will present lessons on Salsa, traditional instruments not used in the United States, and many other musical and cultural topics. For example, students studying Mandarin will look at the difference between how emotions are expressed in Chinese vs. American pop music; and a French class plans to talk about the grammatical structure of the classic song "Frere Jacque," and students will rewrite the song's key question -- "Are you sleeping?" -- using other the permissible options of French syntax.

A "posterettes" campaign also was launched the week of February 19 in the hallways of Root Hall, to promote foreign languages. These bilingual sheets in English with Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese or Spanish will provide language fun facts that connect language study to its use outside of the classroom and university environment.

The posterettes aim to boost knowledge of and appreciation for other languages.

For example, did you know that coffee, zero, giraffe and zenith are Arabic words? How about this: What is the second most frequently taught language in the world? French!


CONTACT: Lisa Calvin, associate professor of Spanish and coordinator of Basic Studies for Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, Indiana State University, (812) 237-2363 or

WRITERS: Megan Anderson and Katie Spanuello, Communications & Marketing, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3790,

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Story Highlights

All the foreign language classes at ISU are participating in Foreign Language Music Day during their classes on Feb. 21, 2007. The coordinator is Lisa Calvin.

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