Montverde Academy Hosts Shanghai Students for Immersive English Language and Cultural Experience

From June 10 – 19, Montverde Academy hosted 54 Chinese students from Shanghai. For a week and a half, these students had the opportunity to immerse themselves in three of MVA’s language courses to enhance their English proficiency: communications, public speaking, and writing. Students were also able to take advantage of a few activities outside the walls of Montverde Academy. They greatly enjoyed their trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, along with a trip to Walmart and an outlet mall!

In their communications course, led by Mr. Oscar Torres, Upper and Middle School media arts teacher, students learned to communicate with each other as a film crew. Each class section created their own short sci-fi film. One class worked on a film about a girl who, after placing headphones on her head, could hear different objects in the classroom speaking. Another class worked on a film about underground clubs that competed to create objects out of thin air. And one class worked on a film about a scientist who, while working in his lab, attempted to open a portal to a new dimension. “I have been very surprised by how quickly the students have learned,” said Mr. Torres. “Some of them have already done photography or something film related, so they are doing phenomenal. One of them has directed before, so she’s directing and moving the lights where they need to be, choosing the colors, and taking initiative regarding the creative aspect. A lot of them have shocked me, and I’ve been very thankful to be able to see them at work.”

Under the guidance of Mr. Aubrey Connelly-Candelario, Upper School choir teacher, students fine-tuned their public speaking skills. They worked on thinking and speaking in English, and they performed extemporaneous speeches to demonstrate how to do something, such as how to make brownies. They performed reader’s theatre scripts, which included the story of Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles. They also conducted live interviews with each other about topics in the news. “[I was surprised] by how knowledgeable they were about world events, politics, ecology, etc. and how thoughtful they were about these topics,” said Mr. Connely-Candelario.

Ms. Sasha-Kay Matthias, Upper School English teacher, taught a writing course where students engaged in a summer writing picnic that focused on descriptive, expository, and creative writing. In the early sessions, Ms. Matthias emphasized using vivid sensory details to describe objects in nature. “I was extremely impressed by the photographs and detailed descriptions of the various animals, plants, and scenery captured by the students during our sensory nature walk,” said Ms. Matthias. “The lessons that followed focused on explaining a process. The students were tasked with writing a process essay on how to prepare a special dish, drink, game, or activity for a picnic. However, instead of writing a traditional essay, the students presented this information via a slideshow. I was surprised by their diligence and English writing proficiency. We closed out our writing picnic with ‘I’m from’ poems, which allowed the students to share their unique backgrounds in a creative way. Overall, this was an extraordinary experience and most of these students have proven themselves to be highly creative, detail-oriented writers.”

“My overall experience at MVA [has been] absolutely amazing!” said Shanghai student Judy Luo. “Not only is the campus so large and beautiful, but every single person I met is so nice! I love the sunshine, the lake, the ice cream shop, the squirrels, the classes. My dorm parent has to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. She greets me with a hug, a smile, and a ‘good morning, sweetheart’ every morning, making the start of my day so exciting and energetic. I love the tongue twister in public speaking class and how we got to introduce ourselves by a poem in writing class.

“My favorite class had to be film class because this was an entirely new experience for me, and it was so fun. I watch a lot of films, but this time I actually got to be on the production side! As the director of my group, I learned so much: from what to say before actually starting to film — the ‘slide in,’ ‘action,’ and ‘cut” — to editing and adding sound effects. I’m so glad to have been a part of an amazing team and to be able to produce such an awesome film! The satisfaction after seeing the final product is indescribable. I remember telling my mom that MVA is so nice that I actually want to transfer here. This was truly an incredible experience, and I hope I’ll be able to visit again!”

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