Posted by: csdailyblog | February 26, 2011

El Parque Nacional Yosemite

Overcoming the Language Barriers in our National Parks
Post by Jeff Rennicke, Conserve School English Teacher

National Parks are for everyone. Yet cultural and language barriers have made enjoying our parks difficult at times for certain people. In an example of Conserve School’s commitment to interdisciplinary studies, English teacher and national park expert Jeff Rennicke (who is a contributing writer to NATIONAL PARK magazine) led a period of Spanish teacher Kathleen O’Connor’s class to help students explore the cultural and language issues involved in making sure our public lands are open and accessible to all. The class looked at such issues as the demographics of park visitation, the geographic location of major national parks and the challenges inherent in traveling to them, the difficulties posed by English-only maps, brochures, and regulation information for Spanish-speaking visitors, and the cultural difference in recreational interests. Students then worked to translate a park brochure from the popular national park Yosemite into Spanish. “It has been said that our National Parks are the ‘best idea America ever had,'” Rennicke told the students. “If that is going to continue to be true, it needs to be a good idea for all Americans, and visitors to this country. The beauty of nature is a universal language,” he stressed. “The least we can do is to be sure our National Parks speak everyone’s native language.”


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