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Creating Opportunites for Authenic Communication and Cultural Immersion​

Pitman High School, New Jersey and Instituto Cardenal Stepinac and Colegio Agustiniano de San Andrés, Argentina


Over the last few years, Shelly Nichols, a Spanish teacher at Pitman High School in New Jersey, has taken steps to incorporate as much comprehensible input as possible in her classroom, focusing on proficiency-based activities and assessments and giving students an immersive learning experience as much as possible. However, creating a curriculum that reflects the immersive nature of language learning has brought a set of challenges. To address these challenges, Nichols implemented Level Up Village (LUV), which provided her students with opportunities to exchange videos with peers in Spanish-speaking countries. As a result of this experience, Nichols’ students were more engaged in their work and eager to practice their skills. Overall, LUV provided an immersive experience and added a unique and exciting element to the curriculum

“LUV easily allows for a meaningful global exchange between students and another school anywhere in the world. As language teachers, we can stay in the target language all day long, and have amazing results from our students, but we cannot provide that crucial element of cultural immersion, no matter how much we teach about the history and society and cultural nuances.”

Shelly Nichols


Nichols faced limited resources to immerse students in the culture of the target language, a lack of authentic input, insufficient opportunities for practice with the target language, and found the process of traditional penpalling complicated.


Nichols adopted the Level Up Village virtual exchange platform, partnered with two schools in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and provided opportunities for authentic practice and cultural immersion through these virtual exchanges.


Nichols’ students became more invested in the language learning process, the connection with students in a different country fostered a sense of global connection, and her students exhibited a higher level of engagement, taking the initiative to complete assignments.

“Teaching cultural competence is extremely important these days, given the fact that we are increasingly more globalized. To nurture students into aware, global citizens, we need opportunities like this to engage students in conversations that share perspectives and firsthand experiences.”

Shelly Nichols


LUV provided Shelly Nichols and her students with a valuable language-learning tool that enhanced the curriculum, student engagement, and proficiency. By incorporating LUV into her teaching, Nichols was able to provide her students with authentic input, practice, and real conversations with peers in Argentina. It also allowed her to teacher her students in a fun and engaging way that fostered global connections and cultural awareness.