New ACHS Student Club Celebrates Bilingualism

en español (PDF) | አማርኛ (PDF) | بالعربية (PDF)

Educational and social equity for our English Language Learners (ELL) is celebrated in April during National Bilingual/Multilingual Learner Advocacy Month. Within Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS), students come from 110 countries of birth representing 121 native languages, signifying how bilingual/multilingual speakers help enrich our community as they contribute different life perspectives.

Margaret Atkins, Alexandria City High School (ACHS) junior, says her own experience within ACPS is the reason that she founded Titans Mundial, a club dedicated to increasing linguistic as well as cultural fluency among students who speak different languages. Atkins says she attended Mount Vernon Community School, which offers a dual language program, and she felt that “being able to learn Spanish from a young age, along with many who spoke it at home, really allowed for a stronger sense of community and a fuller understanding of how not everyone came from the same linguistic and cultural background.”

ACHS ELL history teacher and club co-sponsor, Gabriel Elias, noted, “For years we have been looking for ways to integrate the International Academy with the rest of the school on a social level. It makes sense that we would finally have a way to do this through language learning and multilingualism.” As students come together in Titans Mundial, they address topics that are culturally relevant, and Elias says this type of fluency is just as important as linguistic fluency among students who speak different languages.

“Titans Mundial is meant to unite students from many different backgrounds,” explains Atkins, who serves as the club president. “It also attempts to open the eyes of many other students to the International Academy and encourages them to broaden their perspective and their language skills.”

Titans Mundial is open to everyone, and Atkins encourages students with different fluency levels in Spanish and English to come to its meetings. Atkins says there is currently a base group consisting of about five native Spanish speakers and three native English speakers, with upwards of 16 people joining the conversation each week. Atkins believes that for someone who is not yet bilingual or multilingual, they may start to learn a little bit of a new language or simply about someone else’s cultural experiences.

Titans Mundial currently meets once a week during Lunch and Learn in room A304. Students interested in joining can follow on Instagram and Twitter at @titansmundial.