Students take language learning to a new level


Chloe Morse

Consistency is what language students need to learn a language. “I think since consistency is really important [when learning a language],” Yoo said

Chloe Morse, Staff Writer

New words. New grammar.  Sometimes even a new alphabet.  These are the three things that come together when learning a new language. Nearly every student in the United States learns a second language, whether through high school, college, or a postgraduate education.  A new Gallup poll revealed that over a quarter of American adults are bilingual.

A school wide poll found that out of 200 students with a 16% response rate, 62.5% of students at SPA are learning more than one second language.  The rise of learning apps such as Duolingo, and language programs like Concordia Language Villages has made learning additional languages easier; the schoolwide poll revealed that 54.5% of students study a third language through Duolingo, and 6.25% through Concordia Language Villages. About 12.5% of students also learn languages through exposure from family, and 22.7% through schooled courses.  However, about 15.63% of students study through two of these ways.

Sophomore Reuben Vizelman is one such student. He studies french in school, and Russian outside of school.  He has had lifelong exposure to Russian, and never stopped wanting to learn.  

“My parents taught me Russian before english, and I kinda kept using it whenever,” Vizelman said.  

Ninth grader Naomi Wilson had prolonged exposure to a language as well, but in her case, the language was Chinese. Wilson went to the Chinese immersion school Yinghua Academy for ten years, and only this year started to study Chinese outside of school via a Minnesota Online High School course.

“[There’s] definitely less connection [in an online course] … rather than a classroom where I can see everyone and talk to everyone,” Wilson said regarding her online class.

Sophomore Gemma Yoo, rather than a year long approach, studies Korean every summer at Concordia Language Villages. She has Korean family, so the language holds special significance to her.  However, Yoo notices and tries to remedy the flaws created in going to a yearly summer camp to learn a language.

I think since consistency is really important [when learning a language] Spanish [in school], and having a regular class [versus the yearly camps], is probably more helpful.”

— Sophomore Gemma Yoo

“I think since consistency is really important [when learning a language],” Yoo said “Spanish [in school], and having a regular class [versus the yearly camps], is probably more helpful.”

At the moment, Yoo can’t do much to prepare for the Concordia Language Village in the summer, though she does listen to korean music. However, that will soon change as Duolingo is soon going to release a Korean language feature, which will allow for more practice in korean.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Yoo said.

Wilson is discovering the more subtle differences and possible problems with learning a language online versus in a class.  As her first year studying online, Wilson didn’t really know what to expect from an online course. However, the apparent differences don’t affect Wilson’s desire to learn online.

“On one hand, I can’t practice my speaking abilities, and on the other hand I do a lot more writing [online],” Wilson said “I feel like one [way of learning] is not better than the other, they’re just different.”

In the last two years, Vizelman decided he wanted to delve more deeply into the details of Russian grammar, and enrolled in a private tutoring program. He is able to refine his knowledge of details by reading and writing Russian, while apps or programs like Rosetta Stone and Duolingo don’t work for him because he already knows the basics.

“Right now I want to be able to read a sentence and [not just] spell [it out], I want to get more fluent,” Vizelman said. “Before I was throwing out words that were kinda like the general things, but they weren’t exactly correct so they sounded kinda weird.”

Yoo’s familial connection to her language provides another layer of goals when it come to learning Korean.

“My dad’s family is from Korea…my grandparents speak Korean, so I wanted to be able to talk to them and understand them better,” Yoo said.

Wilson thinks big with her goals involving language, but simply for the sake of travel.

“I really be a world class citizen, and so I can be able to communicate with people, and make more friends,” Wilson said.

Long term, Vizelman doesn’t plan to learn any other languages.  However, his desire to learn russian now is in part inspired by his preparedness in college.

“Part of the reason I’m [learning russian] is to [prepare] for college, and do it in college.  That’s one of my main goals,” Vizelman said.

Wilson is aiming to learn a minimum of five languages, one of which she wants to be Hindi. Wilson also gave advice towards learning a language you’re passionate about.

“If you want to learn a language, it doesn’t matter when you start.  …  I mean, you could start today. Just go on youtube, and watch some videos of the language you want to learn, and you just start learning,” Wilson said.

Yoo has similar interests to Wilson when it comes to language learning.

“I’m thinking about possibly adding another language next year. Learning french would be interesting…Or latin would be really cool to learn,” Yoo said.
While learning a third language outside of school creates additional work, Wilson, Yoo, and Vizelman are all inspired to learn a third language.

“I think it’s a really cool thing to do, to learn other languages,” Yoo said.