By Henry Mei ’18
Whether you’re preparing for the Language Other Than English (LOTE) exam or studying to add another language under your linguistics belt, you may perceive foreign language differently than those around you.
According to Ms. Teresa Fernandez, Assistant Principal of World Languages and ENL, “foreign” language is a misconception because “foreign indicates something outside of ourselves that’s not always welcomed.”
To express its true purpose and comply with state standards, the foreign language department changed its name to world language department.
“We are opening our boundaries, physical and hopefully mental barriers, to an open world,” said Ms. Fernandez. “World is more encompassing than foreign.”
Faria Jewel ’18 said, “I see language learning as an experience where it allows me to meet different people and form a connection.”
For our world language teachers, the way they view foreign language is reflected in the way they teach.
“Foreign language is a language in which you do not grow up with, a language having to learn,” said Mr. Michael O’Neill, the Latin teacher.
Mr. O’Neill teaches Latin to “teach the truth about the language, and for my students to understand English better and grow as logical thinkers.”
Marly Jean-Baptiste, a French teacher, said, “Foreign language helps me communicate with more people and learn a whole new culture and its history. I want to prepare students for the world and expand their horizons, not just to pass exams.”
Ms. Susanna Sala, a Spanish teacher, said, “A foreign language is not my native language but a language that opens doors for me. I want my students to learn how to speak a little, to communicate, to understand, and eventually to love – to have a love for something different.”
In addition to teaching the required content in the curriculum, our world language teachers aspire to teach necessary skills to prepare students for the real world.
Ms. Goodwin, a Spanish teacher, said she wants her students to develop tolerance and acceptance for other cultures.
“I want to help students understand how to appreciate a language and ultimately know that it’s important to be exposed to other cultures,” said Ms. Jean-Baptiste.
Ms. Sala said, “Learning a language is more than just speaking it. When you learn a language, you learn about the culture and different ways of thinking. In a society like this, it gives us a better understanding of each other.”
Learning a foreign or world language can be rewarding and reap many benefits.
According to an article from www.telegraph.co.uk called, “Why Learn a Foreign Language, Benefits of Bilingualism,” learning a foreign or world language will: make you smarter by improving the functionality of your brain; build multitasking skills, since you are constantly switching between two languages; improve memory, since it involves memorizing rules and vocabulary; improve decision-making skills; allow you to be more perceptive; improve your English; and lower your chance of getting Alzheimer’s.
“Knowing a language makes traveling an easier experience,” said Ms. Jean-Baptiste.
Jewel said, “I want to be a writer but unfortunately I have writer’s block. Foreign language opened me up to different cultures and helped to inspire me.”
Sonia Trelles ’18 said taking Spanish allows her to understand her culture better and see society in a more diverse way.
According to Ms. Fernandez, when applying for college, you are competing with many people who have the same GPA for the same limited spots. You want to be “the cherry on the cake” to make yourself stand out. Knowing more than one language other than English can help you because it shows commitment and be seen as a difference.
“Learning a language is a long process and takes work, but it’s worth-it,” said Ms. Goodwin.