By Tiffany Kuo
The students of Gabrielino High School have two choices when it comes to deciding on a foreign language to learn: Spanish or Mandarin, meaning that students are faced with a diverging pathway that may leave them dissatisfied regardless of their choice. However, two languages are simply not enough options to account for a large body of students with varying interests and backgrounds.
Several schools in neighboring cities provide other foreign languages in addition to Spanish and Mandarin. San Marino High School offers Japanese and Temple City High School offers German and French.
Gabrielino once offered French to its students. However, it was removed due to difficulty in filling the two classes that were available, according to Kevin Weir, office clerk. While this issue exhibited the futility of offering more languages, it took place in a time when communication and exposure to the world beyond San Gabriel were not as easily accessible to students as it is today. Therefore, the desires of the students, in terms of their interests in languages, may have drastically changed with time.
“On one hand, it’s important to offer languages based on the population of the school,” stated Xenia Rivera, Spanish teacher, “[but] on the other hand, the school should still give the students more choices to pick from.”
As the student body is predominantly made up of students of Asian or Hispanic descent, it is understandable that the foreign languages offered are based on the demographics of the campus. Regardless, creating curriculum confined to students’ ethnic backgrounds only encourages them to stick to what is comfortable, rather than challenging them to venture beyond their comfort zones and explore other cultures.
Moreover, multilingual students have an advantage in educational performance because their minds are more thoroughly developed. According to data compiled by The Atlantic, multillingualism leads to better standardized test scores, improved memory, and longer attention spans. Increasing the number of languages open to students would further benefit Gabrielino’s academic environment.
It is a principle of education to hold the interests of students in utmost priority, and thus encourage students to pursue languages that fascinate them. Expanding the options within Gabrielino’s foreign language curriculum will curate a school experience that is specific to individuals and celebrates diversity.
As a campus with the motto of “Creating Opportunities,” it would only be fitting that Gabrielino gives its students the opportunity to learn languages of their choice.