Sequoia speaks out– in more than one language

Eighty-one percent of Sequoia students speak a second language, and 40 percent cite English as a second or third language, according to a recent 81-person survey. Some of these students and teachers sat down to describe their experience of learning another language. Scroll down to read about their experience and listen as they give a little taste of their foreign tongue. Plus, learn a few foreign phrases that don’t show up in our everyday conversations but really should.

Dario McCarty, freshman


“My parents spoke Italian around me a lot when I was little, so it rubbed off on me. It’s just something that I’ve known my entire life. I visit Italy every summer, so I can reinforce my skills.

Steven Wong, math teacher


My first language is Burmese because I was born in Burma. I knew a little Taiwanese as a kid because my grandparents didn’t speak any Burmese, only Taiwanese. When I was 14 I moved to the U.S. and learned English. I took Spanish for two years in high school after my counselor assigned it to me and I joined the Asian-American club where I learned Mandarin. After I got married I was living with my in-laws who speak Shanghainese, a dialect spoken in Shanghai. Over time I started to pick it up and now I understand everything.”

Natalie Baldaccini, english teacher


I studied Italian in college and in Sienna [Italy.] It’s difficult to practice because my husband doesn’t speak [Italian.] I live near an Italian restaurant, so I speak with them. My father-in-law speaks it, and I speak it to my 1-year-old son.”

Yasemin Agi, freshman


“My grandma, who only speaks Turkish was living with us for a year around when I was born, so when she would stay home with me she would only talk to me in Turkish. I speak Turkish at home with my parents and my brother, and both of my grandparents speak it, along with a lot of other relatives. We usually go to Turkey every other summer. I kinda go between Turkish and English.”

Jose Rosario, Spanish teacher


“I was born in the Dominican Republic, where we spoke all Spanish all the time and I came here when I was five. Dominican Spanish is much different dialect, more slurred and quicker than the traditional Spanish my classmates spoke. I was learning proper Spanish and slowing it down, but I was losing my Dominican Spanish. It was very different than what my parents and grandparents spoke. Because I was only five when I came here, I was able to really acquire and learn English. For five years before Prop 227, which ‘limits the teaching of bilingual classes’ was passed my teachers would gradually increase the amount of English in class. The support I had in school helped me maintain Spanish and still learn English.”

Joey Fradkin, junior


“I went to Wornick Jewish Day School for nine years, so that’s when I started to get interested in [Hebrew].After that I started watching Disney movies and other things I knew really well in English to keep being exposed to Hebrew. Then I spent four months in Israel where I was able to perfect it. I text my friends from Israel in Hebrew and I try to talk on the phone with them as much as I can, although it’s hard with the time difference. I try and use it whenever I can and talk with people that speak [Hebrew].”

Annika Kruger, sophomore


“My first language is German and I learned it from my dad, who is German. From kindergarten to eighth grade I went to a German school, where everything was taught in German. I still have friends from there who speak German. I go to Germany every summer to visit, and I have a lot of friends that live there.”

Max Friedman, math teacher


In 7th grade my family moved to Mexico City. We lived there for a year and that is where I had a very immersive experience and made the most improvement in my Spanish. I continued to take Spanish in high school, after we returned. I get the most practice today by making phone calls home to Spanish-speaking families and interacting with other Spanish speakers around town.”

Karina Chin, French and AVID teacher


“My third year of college, I said to myself, ‘I want to go live in France.’ So, I signed up for a program at UCLA, and I left for the year. I was in Grenoble; it’s a city in the Alps, next to the alps. I had a good, good year; I had a lot of fun. And, of course, I improved my French too.Then, I think it was my fourth year at UCLA, so once I was back from France. So I found a an internship in Los Angeles, it was right next to UCLA, and I started to work for the French government.