LOTE teachers using differences to become closer


Kyah Jones

Coppell High School Mandarin Chinese teacher Andrea Voelker instructs junior Shoy Border how to play Chinese yoyo during third period on Jan. 23.

Sapna Amin, Staff Writer

The language hall at Coppell High School is filled with the sound of conversation that your ear isn’t usually attuned to. Once you acknowledge that it is a completely different language, you embrace the culture. 

The Language Other Than English (LOTE) teachers celebrate their differing cultures and backgrounds, instead of letting those differences separate them. 

“We are centered around language and culture, which makes us tolerant and open to learning about other cultures,” French and Spanish teacher Michael Egan said.

Language and culture go hand in hand, so a large portion of the LOTE curriculum is also integrating traditions. Through LOTE classes, CHS students can experience and get a feel for cultures they wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise.   

“I am able to bring my background and pass on my passion for my language,” French teacher Nathalie Deines said. “I’m native to France and it gives me the opportunity to relate to my students and I’m able to teach from experience, which a book can’t provide.”

Many of the teachers are native speakers and grew up in an environment where they would consistently use the language. 

“I grew up with a Deaf parent which helped me accept diversity and differences in people more,” American Sign Language teacher Delosha Payne said.

According to many of the teachers, LOTE has a different style of teaching from traditional core classes and emphasizes open-mindedness. Language brings people together by bridging communication.

 “Unlike other subjects, we teach more than just knowing information; we have culture,” Egan said. “I am teaching my students how to communicate.” 

Not only do the LOTE teachers want to teach students a new culture, they want to teach students about how to interact with cultures they may not know about.

“With my experience of learning languages and traveling, I want my students to become global citizens and have a more open mind when it comes to the world,”  Egan said. 

Many of the LOTE teachers are part of an under-recognized facet of CHS. 

LOTE teachers’ influence is not limited to just the students; it also expands to the other teachers in that department. 

“All of the LOTE teachers are open-minded and we are a diverse group who share the common interest of wanting our students to be accepted and open,” Mandarin Chinese teacher Andrea Voelker said.

The passion CHS LOTE teachers have for the language and the desire to pass it onto their students is something they all share. In other words, bringing their background to their classroom creates an environment of open-mindedness for their students. 

“I love our team because we all come from different backgrounds and bring different things to the table and get along well with each other,” Voelker said.

The LOTE teachers have a different teaching pattern than other teachers. This goes back to incorporating their personality and culture into the lesson plan rather than teaching only facts and concepts.

“The teachers are proud of our background and we aren’t afraid to ask questions and answer them honestly; we bring things from our cultures and we share and respect what others bring,” Payne said.

According to Voelker, the teachers in the LOTE department make an effort to embrace one another’s cultures. They each bring something unique to the table through their language and culture which is what makes the LOTE department stand out in CHS. 

The teachers try to familiarize their students with each other by doing group projects as the year continues to get them out of their comfort zone and that kind of mindset.

The LOTE teachers interact with each other in a way that emphasizes their closeness through their differences. 

“We show that people of different backgrounds, races, cultures can get along and work well together,” Payne said.

The LOTE department builds connections with students and each other through passion for learning and the languages themselves. 

“Our differences are what we love to celebrate,” Egan said.

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