The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Campanile

The Campanile

The Campanile

Students explore multilingualism

Students explore multilingualism
Art by Teresa Wang

Sophomore Meryem Orazova is immersed in a realm of languages — from the four she speaks at home to the one she’s learning at Paly. Navigating through all of these languages can be tricky, but it’s a common experience to have in Silicon Valley.

Around 20% of Americans speak another language other than English and that number is 45% in California, the state with the highest language diversity.

And at Paly, two years of world language or its equivalent is required for graduation.

The World Languages Department offers five languages: American Sign Language, Spanish, French, Japanese and Chinese, and while the specific pathways may vary, the general structure progresses from level 1 to 3, concluding with either level 4 or AP.

Orazova, taking Spanish 3H, said learning languages helps to communicate with others while traveling around the world.

“Some benefits of learning a new language are that it really helps you when you go overseas,” Orazova said. “I went to Spain this past summer as well as Costa Rica, and I was able to communicate with people there. Also, (in addition to) communicating with others, it helps you gain new perspectives.”

Spanish teacher Kevin Duffy said learning new languages allows people to build connections with one another and learn new cultures.

“It helps you become connected to people in different communities and explore things that you might not have known previously,” Duffy said. “You become more understanding of different cultures.”

And Duffy said studying languages not only enhances a person’s connection with different communities but also offers an array of cognitive benefits.

Studying languages increases brain development, according to a 2022 metastudy by Cambridge University. In fact, 90% of the 20 studies showed language learners boosted their academic proficiency. Students who learned new languages drastically enhanced their literacy, communication and memorization skills.

Sophomore Motoko Iwata, taking French 3H, said Paly’s World Languages Department should be praised for its wide array of offerings.

“I think it’s an amazing opportunity. I love that we have so many diverse languages,” Iwata said.

Senior Grace Gormley, who took Spanish, said language courses were one of the most valuable classes she has taken due to their broad applications outside of high school.

“I think part of me was hooked on the beauty of the language itself, but there’s also the really valuable asset of being able to use my language as a tool in all walks of life,” Gormley said.

Building on the notion that learning languages provides valuable skills, Duffy said he encourages students who plan to take language courses in college to study a semester or a year abroad in a country where the language they studied is spoken.

“To live in a different place can be such a great experience, and to make new friends in another country is one of the best ways that you can learn a language,” Duffy said.

Iwata agrees and said it’s essential for students to use their languages to build relationships on a global scale.

Iwata said, “The point of school is to (prepare) us (after graduating) to connect with different people in a global society, not just America.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Campanile

Your donation will support the student journalists of Palo Alto High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Alex Isayama, Staff Writer
Donate to The Campanile

Comments (0)

All The Campanile Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *