Students speak in many tongues

By Denebola
Published: September 2008

By Jenn Mountain

“OMG, LIKE, HEY JENN! is what I often hear traveling across the hallways at school. At home, however, I am confronted with a completely different scenario. No, it’s not that my family speaks proper English; I mean that I come home to a bilingual household every day.

Don’t get me wrong–English is the ill language with some pretty sweet slang, but Hebrew is more my family’s cup-of-tea. My mother, born and raised in Israel, learned her homeland’s language, Hebrew, from the start and decided to raise me and my brothers the same way. Ever since I was an itty-bitty tyke in diapers, I’ve spoken Hebrew along with English. Growing up, I sang songs like “Yadayim L’Malah instead of “Ring Around the Rosie. On Saturdays, I, along with my neighbors, would wake up to the sound of Israeli music ringing throughout the Mountain household.

You might think that all children who are brought up in America are taught to speak English before any other language; that their first words are always “dada or “mama, maybe even “cookie, but never anything in another language. That would be unacceptable, right? You were assuming that the second language everyone learns is when they hop into a 6th grade Spanish, French, or Chinese class, except for this freak whose article you’re reading.

You may also believe that being put to sleep every night with a lullaby in Hebrew is a bit eccentric and uncommon. Now, I respect your opinion, but contrary to your configuring being bilingual is not at all uncommon here at Newton South. For years I believed my brothers and cousins were the only ones I could relate my special two-language ability to. We were like The Incredibles with an uber sicknasty superpower. Much to my dismay, I discovered this was, in fact, not a super power at all, and furthermore, I was no longer a lone sailor.

Our school is full of bilingual students! A great variety of languages are spoken by Newton South students, including Hebrew, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Spanish, French, (Gibberish? Hey, why not?), and countless other languages.

You may have already known that I was bilingual if you have ever taken a look at my iPod and noticed all the Hebrew songs, but you might not know about the peers that you sit next to in class everyday. Your best friend might go home and speak a different language with their families that you don’t even know about! There have been very few occasions where even my best friends have heard me speaking Hebrew to my parents.

We, as students here at Newton South, are so lucky to live and go to school in such a multicultural city. Living in such a diverse community, allows us to learn about different cultures every day. We have the opportunity to experience various cultures first hand as opposed to other communities with a smaller range of cultures.

By being so understanding of different cultures, we stand here with open arms and welcome any student from another country that decides to attend Newton South. It is essential for every newcomer to feel comfortable in their new educational environment, especially when migrating from their foreign country and being exposed to an entirely different culture.

The new set of flags hanging from the cafeteria’s ceiling is a perfect symbol of our community at South. Not only does it express the different nationalities of the students, it also welcomes the new students into this country and into our loving community.

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