WCCHS must offer more foreign language programs


Photo by Karolina Grabowska

WCCHS has a limited offering when it comes to foreign languages.

By Akciri Ortiz, Reporter

You get off the plane, tired and excited. You bump into people as you see bright lights and signs displayed all around the place. You notice the signs around you are in a different language you do not understand. You walk around to ask for help, but no one speaks your native language. You stay standing. Still. Silent. Waiting. 

Photo by Photo illustration by Wildcat Chronicle Staff

Here at West Chicago Community High School, there are different languages offered: French, German, Spanish, and/or Spanish for Native Speakers. French, German, and Spanish are each offered at four different levels, and Spanish for Native Speakers is available at two levels. 

“Learning a new language is so important because it can connect you with more communities and other parts of the world. It broadens your cultural knowledge and helps you understand the world around you better. Learning a language allows you to continue to explore and expand your horizons. Ultimately, making you a well-rounded individual,” said Elizabeth Mastroianni, World Language Teacher. 

Experts agree learning a foreign language is important.

“Besides having more chances of landing a good job or advancing in your career, learning a second language can also give you an insight into other cultures. You will be more prepared and confident to travel the world and explore other people’s ways of living. Lack of integration is a real problem for most countries,” said Middlebury Language Schools.

“I really like learning a foreign language for multiple reasons, but there is one that I think really stands out. If there is one thing that makes humans more special than any other living thing, it is our use of language. With language, knowledge can be shared, and over time societal knowledge increases as we communicate. Choosing to not learn a foreign language is limiting your ability to communicate, and if communication is what makes us special, why limit it? Also, it’s super fun” said Jack Riconosciuto, a senior.

In my spare free time, I am currently learning Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and American Sign Language. I used to practice Japanese, Chinese, and Korean through Duolingo, but have switched to using the Rosetta Stone app. I also print worksheets in each language either sometimes to practice writing or to memorize the lettering. 

I spend at least two and a half hours each week practicing Japanese (including Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji), Chinese (Mandarin for now, but Cantonese in the future), and Korean (including Hangul-Alphabet). It is important for me to learn these languages because it makes me feel connected with other people who can speak that language. Plus, I am happy knowing I took the time to study a foreign language to make other people feel acknowledged and respected. 

Spanish 4 students introduce themselves to Basilio Vargas, a mine worker in Bolivia, via Zoom. (Photo by Elizabeth Mastroianni)

As for American Sign Language, I am watching YouTube videos and completing online worksheets that show me how to fingerspell the ASL alphabet.

ASL is a one-of-a-kind language that interests me a lot because you do not use words to speak, but instead your hands. It caught my attention because I am not a very good talker, and I thought I could probably use the language to communicate to other people. I wanted to learn ASL not only because I did not want to speak anymore, but to be able to communicate with the deaf community. I want to put myself in their shoes. I want to immerse myself and be able to communicate with them in ways that make those who are hard of hearing feel like they are a part of the community in the U.S., and not secluded from the rest of the world.

When I was younger I went to A.A. meetings with my parents for redecorating purposes. There was a white brick wall where we were going to display the A.A. logo and motto, but we were also going to put hearts around the design. I met a young girl at that establishment with her mom. As she helped with the painting process, I noticed that she could not hear. She also had troubled speech, but she knew sign language. The girl was asking me for something, and I could not understand. Since then, I have wanted to learn American Sign Language so I would be able to communicate with people who are deaf or cannot speak very clearly or well. 

Schools like Plainfield North, Naperville Central and Naperville North already offer multiple levels of sign language, which is a good choice for students who are not skilled with predominantly verbalized languages.

“I would be interested in learning sign language because I think it would be cool to communicate in a new manner that doesn’t require talking and then I can help people who I wouldn’t normally be able to talk to. I think a lot of other people would be interested in that as well,” said Reagan Boorsma, a senior. 

Students at WCCHS would like to see other foreign languages offered as well.

“I feel like China is one of the biggest countries in the world, and to go visit would be cool. It’s the most-spoken language [there]. We already offer Spanish, so it would be cool to offer Mandarin,” said Diego Avalos, a senior. 

“Probably Italian. [Italy] is a really popular place that a lot of people travel to. It’s trending, I guess, but Italy is such an amazing place,” said Daisy Garcia, a senior. 

Korean, Japanese, Russian, Hindi, and Arabic should also be considered for implementation into the curriculum, Naperville North High School also offers different levels of Chinese, and South Elgin High School offers Japanese classes. 

Having more choices in foreign language programs will make many students interested in learning a new language. Not only that, but additional foreign language course offerings engage students who want to learn about the culture and origins of the language. Learning new languages will boost the communication skills of students and encourage them to be able to speak the same language other people do. 

In the future, if a student decides to travel to exotic locations around the world, they might have some prior knowledge of the language they learned in class. These would be amazing foreign languages that WCCHS should offer to students since there is little variety of languages at the school.