Language Learning Connects People & Culture

Language Learning Connects People & Culture

French teacher Jane Ditewig shares her perspective on immersion

Xperitas Board Member and retired French teacher Jane Ditewig feels she was incredibly lucky to have had the perfect career that combined French language and culture. Jane was a French teacher at R.A. Long High School in Longview, Washington for 42 years. During that time Jane traveled with her students on Xperitas programs to France nineteen times. With Betty Bordier, a friend and English teacher in Poitiers France, Jane helped create an exchange program between R.A. Long and Saint Jacques de Compostelle. She helped to bring French language and culture to students and their families in Longview as well as American language and culture to those in Poitiers.

Jane grew up in a small town in Washington and was always drawn to languages. When the family across the street hosted a French exchange student, she seemed exotic and fascinating to Jane. At her first opportunity, in high school, Jane took as many language classes as she could; two years of French language and two years of German language. Jane’s first immersion opportunity was during college; she was still studying French and traveled to study in Avignon, France. While in Avignon Jane realized that to make language interesting and real, “the culture needs to be part of the program.”

A tearful departure between R.A. Long High School students and French host siblings.

Jane always knew she wanted to be a teacher. Her personal challenge (and goal) was to help her students recognize the opportunities that would be available to them with a second or third language. She taught her students that “language is a real living thing, not just a subject in high school”, that because language is a skill that can be tested, people feel nervous, but it’s not about the test. Language is a skill that allows you to connect with people and with culture, to watch a movie or read a book. Jane has imparted her own passion for language and culture to hundreds of students and their families. Many of the students have returned to France on their own and even more have stayed connected on social media.

Jane was inspired to serve on the Xperitas Board because she wants to ensure that the experiences she and her students have had are accessible to more kids. In addition to serving on the Xperitas Board Jane is Chair of the R.A. Long HS Scholarship Foundation and the Longview Library Foundation and is working on bringing a bookmobile to Longview.

Jane and her students at graduation

Jane and her students

Longview welcome sign

Jane and Longview students at the Arc de Triomphe

American and French Students in France

RA Long Student and French Host Family

RA Long Student and French Host Family