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Masks bridge cultures and languages

Halloween masks may be scary, but speaking in a foreign language can be even scarier — which is why fun is such an important part of learning a new language, according to Cyndi Turtledove, artistic director of LESTA (Learn English/Spanish Through the Arts).

On Saturday, Oct. 5, Turtledove will begin teaching a five-week mask-making course in which, in addition to designing masks, students will cross cultures and gain comfort and confidence interacting in both English and Spanish. The course will build to a performance, celebrating both El Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) and Halloween.

El Día de los Muertos falls on Nov. 2, just two days after Halloween. The celebrations take very different approaches to the spirits of the dead, Turtledove said.

For El Día de los Muertos, families build small altars in their homes with photos of lost loved ones and offerings of their favorite things, such as candy.

By contrast, Halloween features spooky ghosts, trick-or-treating and costumes.

But both festivals feature masks.

Turtledove’s students can choose from a variety of masks, including the traditional skull motif (calavera), as well as fanciful creatures such as caterpillars and exotic birds.

The masks will be named, with those wearing them taking on “hero” qualities in a celebration that will include bilingual singing and a problem-solving game.

Turtledove encourages all ages and cultures to share this rich experience, and particularly invites parents and children to attend the course together at a bargain, two-for-one rate.

Turtledove is confident of her language-learning approach: “Once you get rid of people’s fear, you can do anything,” she said.

Classes run from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays through Oct. 26 at the LESTA Studio, 365 N.E. Jackson St. in Hillsboro. Per-student cost is $40 (except for parent-child pairs) and includes mask materials. For more information, contact Turtledove at 503-617-6986 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .




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