Bracelets promote linguistic diversity

Spanish professor Cory Lyle is trying to blur cultural lines between students with a new project.

The idea is to circulate bright blue and yellow bracelets with the words “Francais” or “Español” to faculty, staff and students so that people who share a common language can strike up a conversation with each other.

Distribution to faculty and staff began last week, and Lyle and other faculty members will be handing out bracelets to students in French and Spanish courses this week. They will also be available to fluent speakers, even if they are not taking French or Spanish courses.

The idea aims to take learning a new language a step outside the classroom.

Spanish professor Georgia Seminet feels that the bracelets are a step in the right direction to encourage students to practice speaking different languages.

“We’re really curious to see if this will catch on and if students will like it so that it gives them a reason to use the language whereas otherwise they’d feel kind of shy or dorky about using the language,” Seminet said.

Aside from simply handing out the bracelets, Lyle has been putting together a list to put online of faculty and staff who are participating so that students can look for someone to practice speaking with.

“They can hope to run into someone with these bracelets or they can look at the list and say, so and so over at Starbucks coffee at Hunt Hall is usually there in the afternoons, so I’m going to go over there and see if I can order my coffee in Spanish,” Lyle said.

The bracelets come with fliers that list two rules: the first is that participants must be patient, inclusive and supportive of those who are learning French or Spanish. The second is that participants will speak mostly French or Spanish to anyone else wearing a similar bracelet.

French and Spanish were chosen because they are the only language majors which St. Edward’s University offers and there is a large contingency of Spanish and French speaking students on campus. 

“If it works out, we’d love to have more languages. Why not?” Lyle said.

French professor Philippe Seminet believes the bracelets will promote cultural pride on campus.

“I think the bracelet is a way of saying, hey, I speak Spanish and I’m proud,” Seminet said.