A look into LRHS’s language classes

0
93
The foreign language hallway at Leesville is located on the second floor of the main building. The teachers add character to the hallway using signs and decorations related to the language they teach. (Photo courtesy of Darcy Meehan)

Leesville offers three foreign language classes for students to take: Spanish, French, and Latin. Each class has many benefits and uses, so it can be hard to choose which to take. 

Spanish

Leesville students study Spanish the most compared to the other language classes, and the school has five different teachers for the subject. Leesville offers Spanish levels one through five because there is enough student demand to assign teachers to these classes. 

Leesville students choose to take Spanish for several reasons. 

Gretchen Bentley, sophomore, said, “I took Spanish because there are a lot of people in the US who speak Spanish and I can communicate with more people more easily.”

Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in the United States, so it is useful in everyday situations. 

Ryan Mooney, junior, said, “I actually used [Spanish] the other day. I was at McDonald’s, and I was trying to ask for a job application, but the woman didn’t speak English, so I asked her in Spanish.”

Many people list the languages they are fluent in on their resumes, and jobs often ask potential employees if they speak more than one language.

Students may also choose to take Spanish because of its similarities to English. The two languages have many vocabulary words that look or sound alike. However, Spanish does have a different syntax, or arrangement of words, than English. 

Ms. Williams, a Spanish teacher at Leesville, said, “Spanish is pretty easy in that it is phonetic.” 

A language is phonetic when it is usually pronounced the way it is written. In Spanish, the vowels are always said the same way, unlike English, which varies quite a bit in the sounds the letters make. This consistency can make language learning a little easier for students who have never experienced the language before. 

French

Leesville students take French less frequently, but this rarity is some students’ motivation for choosing this language. 

Maddie Gransden, freshman, said, “[I chose French because] I feel like a lot of people take Spanish but not a lot of people take French.” 

Gransden also said that the lack of students taking French can be challenging. “Not a lot of people you know take it, so you can’t really relate with other people,” said Gransden.

Maddie Victor, sophomore, also wants more students to take French. “I wish there was an AP French class after French four. Sometimes French four is not even guaranteed because a lot of people don’t end up taking it,” said Victor, over text.

Although the fewer number of students taking French can make it hard to find a study buddy, knowing the language has many benefits.

French is spoken all over the world and is useful to know when traveling abroad.

Mrs. Mash, French teacher at Leesville, said over email, “After English, more students globally study French as a second language than any other language. Many people do not realize that 60% of French speakers live in Africa.” There are also parts of Canada where French is the most commonly spoken language. 

Victor picked French as her foreign language for precisely this reason. “I chose to take French because I would like to travel to the francophone part of Canada and Paris at some point in the future… I think French could be useful for socializing… or for careers requiring talking with people in other countries,” said Victor, over text.

French also has words that are similar to English vocabulary. However, French and Spanish have similar syntax, as opposed to English. Unlike Spanish, French is not a phonetic language, which may require more effort in the learning process.

Latin

Latin is a dead language, meaning that it is no longer spoken in everyday communication and is no living person’s first language. However, people around the world have preserved the language through studying it in school, including students at Leesville.

Both French and Spanish are Romantic languages, meaning they developed from Latin. English also has many aspects of Latin in it, even though it is a Germanic language. Latin can be applied to learning many different languages, including Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian, and Portuguese, which is one reason people choose to study it.

Meaghan Kelly, junior, said, “I had heard that English stemmed from Latin so I was curious about how Latin participated in English. And I continued taking Latin because it was easy for me and it was an enjoyable experience.”

Dr. Mash, a Latin teacher at Leesville focuses on using Latin as a base for learning other languages. “Nothing is assumed, so we start from zero and we build up… We talk about connections and basic things you find in any language that students can use to understand what they’re doing in English… and [make connections] in any other language,” said Mr. Mash.

Latin’s broad scope also makes it useful in many careers that use Latin vocabulary. 

“The words in Latin participate fairly frequently in the medicinal practice and law,” said Kelly. It helps you understand what a specific word means, like jury… and scientific names are usually in Latin. It just helps you understand what you’re talking about in that specific field.” 

Foreign Language Requirement

It is valuable to be fluent in any foreign language, which is why colleges in North Carolina used to have a minimum foreign language requirement for applicants. Students were required to take at least two foreign language classes in high school. However, this rule has been changed.

Starting with the 2024 fall semester applicants, students applying to colleges in the University of North Carolina system are no longer required to take a world language in high school. This policy was changed in a meeting of the North Carolina Board of Governors in 2023. Students who applied to a UNC school for the spring 2024 semester and earlier still had to fulfill this requirement.

Instead of a foreign language being the only option, high school students are now required to take two additional courses from either English, mathematics, science, social studies, computer science, or world languages. However, it is still recommended that students take a language class other than English, as colleges will look more favorably on applicants who have.

Overall, taking a foreign language is a wonderful way to expand one’s mind and learn about different cultures. People who learn second languages may even discover similarities among these cultures. 

“Language is just a mechanism for which we express thoughts, but the thoughts are often the same across time and place,” said Dr. Mash.

People all over the world have valuable ideas, and learning a foreign language, whether it be Spanish, French, Latin, or any other language, can open doors to new perspectives.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.