Ventura High School’s language madness


Ellberg showing the Spanish song of the day to her period six class. Photo by: Davin Dedman

Davin Dedman and Brody Daw

French and Spanish classes add their own twist on March Madness

The month of March is one that drives rooms 119 and 225 “mad.” March madness originally is classified as a bracket that pertains to basketball rankings and predictions. However, in this case, VHS language teachers Grace Ellberg and Oliver Cougard have added a unique twist that allows their students to interact and learn from songs.

Ellberg said, “The students love certain songs and so much so that they listen to them on their free time and it’s just a really fun way for them to learn about different artists around the world. Also, they of course love to hate certain ones, so that’s always fun but the feedback has been positive, so that’s why I keep doing it each year. … My students of course learn more Spanish by looking at the lyrics, they learn about more Spanish speaking countries not just one and they learn a little bit more about the type of music in the Spanish speaking world.”

Amanda Lubos ‘25, a Spanish 2 student,said, “I think the repetition of hearing the songs over and over again helps gain better knowledge of Spanish because it helps point out new words and practice hearing words I was already familiar with.” 

Ellberg said, “[My favorite song is] ‘Arbohdb’ by Osuna Emgin.” Photo by Davin Dedman

The language madness is supposed to expose students to French and Spanish culture while involving them in a process that encourages them to generate a deeper understanding of their selected language.

Amelia Mcleod ‘24, a French student, said, “The Manie Musical stuff is really cool, I enjoy the songs and it’s interesting to think that these songs are popular in France.”

The month is used as a possibility to dive deep into the cultures and traditions of the French and Spanish-speaking world.

French teacher Olivier Cougard said, “There is so much culture in these songs all these French speaking countries and so we watch a video in class so people can see images [and] documentaries from these different countries. I make sure we spend some time studying the biography of the singers so we know where the singers [were] born, the languages they speak. There is a lot of culture which I like because I think when you learn a foreign language you also learn the culture.” 

Lubos said, “There are many great songs but I have to say my favorite is ‘Hablando Por Hablar’ by Alex Cuba and Cimafunk. … I think it would be cool if my Spanish class next year participated because it’s always interesting and exciting seeing the results from the match up because it’s either a really big difference or pretty close.”