Vista’s Foreign Language Community


Maya Chidambaram, Staff Writer

Out of the 327.2 million people living in the United States, 61.8 million of those people speak a foreign language at home, according to the 2013 US Census Bureau. With the United States being a melting pot of cultures, it is only logical that English is not the only language spoken here.

Meanwhile, Vista del Lago also has a plethora of several different language communities, from French to Hindi to Spanish. There are also several foreign language clubs, including the French Honors Society and the Spanish Honors Society.

Many students at Vista grew up speaking another language. “Knowing another language creates a sense of community,” said Dina Masri, a junior, who speaks Arabic at home with her family. “America is a melting pot of people, so a lot of unique culture is lost…meeting a lot of other people who speak Arabic is really nice here, and you just automatically become friends with those people.”

Other students grew up learning the language in completely different circumstances. “I grew up speaking both Spanish and English because my parents speak Spanish,” said Sky Kezmoh, an 11th grader. “As I went to elementary school, I lost my Spanish because I was speaking more English with my friends.” Kezmoh eventually moved to Spain and learned the language again as she madee friends there.

Meanwhile, some students are in a position where they learn the language outside of home. “I was not ever fluent in Spanish growing up; my parents are only fluent in English,” said Sabrina Terando, a junior. “I just always had a natural passion for foreign languages, so I just got really interested in Spanish when I started learning about Latin American culture.” Terando ended up teaching herself the language and entering an immersion school to become completely bilingual.

Even some of Vista’s teachers grew their passions for languages similar to Terando. “I started learning French in my freshman year of high school and have never stopped,” said Verna Verspieren, a French teacher. “Being a violinist, I appreciated the musicality, especially of the romance languages.”

There are also many pros to knowing a foreign language. “Those of us who are bilingual use a bigger part of our brain and makes us work on essential skills such as memorization,” said Verspieren. “Studying another language also gives you the chance to learn about a foreign culture.”

In addition, knowing another language may enhance your speaking abilities in your native tongue. “Knowing the mechanics of another language makes it easier to understand the mechanics of the language that you mainly speak,” said Masri.

If there are so many benefits to learning another language, then what is the best way to learn it? “Definitely immerse yourself if you want to become fluent,” said Kezmoh. While going to another country like Kezmoh would be ideal, it is not possible for everyone. However immersion schools and programs such as the one that Terando attended are popular. There are also apps such as Duolingo and Babbel that can definitely help when learning another language.

Meanwhile, Verspieren believes that repetition is also a key factor in learning another language. “An immersion experience is very good but we need to have the repetition and the classroom skills first where you learn the base of the language,” said Verspieren.

In addition to immersion and repetition, it is important that there be enthusiasm behind learning another language. “If you don’t want to learn [another language] and you just want college credit, you’re not going to get anything out of it,” said Terando. “You have to actually want to learn it.”

At Vista del Lago High School, there are two foreign language classes offered: Spanish and French. The majority of students tend to take Spanish over French, and both classes offer five levels of both languages, including AP.