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Anika Tsau
Anika Tsau
Opinions Editor

Anika Tsau is a junior at Palatine High School. She’s very involved in the school’s activities, such as the school’s math team and trivia team. She’s also a drum major in Palatine’s marching...

From Spanish to ASL: The growing palette of languages at Palatine

Casimir Heinritz
Spanish teacher Gustavo Correa talks about his life experiences to a Spanish for Native Speakers class.

The Palatine High School World Language Department currently has two courses that any student can enroll in: Spanish and French. Although these choices of world language may be limited currently, that wasn’t always the case at Palatine.

As of 2023, the World Language Department has nearly a quarter of Palatine’s student population enrolled in their two language classes, 90% of which take a Spanish course specifically. 

“I think students take a language that they feel is in their best interest,” Palatine Spanish teacher Craig Kersemeier said. “People would rather learn Spanish because it’s more practical as more of the world speaks it than German because it stems from their lineage or something similar. But as a Spanish teacher, I am just happy students are so enthusiastic to learn a foreign language period.”

Though it seems many of the world languages taught at PHS that aren’t Spanish or French have become increasingly unfavored, there is one language that has grown in popularity and could very well be a future PHS class: American Sign Language, which currently hosts an afterschool club. 

“Me and Ms. Moreno, the club’s sponsor, have advocated that American Sign Language be a class to the district, but the five schools haven’t come to an agreement yet,” said Gustavo Correa, chair of the World Language Department. “Regardless, the American Sign Language club continues to grow! Last year we had over 20 students, and this year we have many incoming passionate underclassmen eager to learn how to sign.”

Students play a big role in the World Language Department.  Their involvement ensures that a course gains interest and therefore a case can be pleaded to the district, including the four other schools, to possibly make it more than just a school activity. 

“For a language course to be taught here at Palatine it requires a little bit of everything from everyone,” Correa said. “It requires that all five of the schools in District 211 come to an agreement on the course, that it be taught with a purpose by a certified teacher and has enough student population willing to take the course throughout their high school career. All of which can take years to achieve.”

Surprisingly, there are actually two other world languages courses offered by Palatine: German and Japanese. However, German has not run since 2017 due to lack of interest and Japanese began in 2019 but is offered only to native speakers online through Harper College.

“The German that I taught here was comparable to other beginner level one courses in the World Language Department, mostly learning basic words and playing games to go along with them,” current business education teacher and former German teacher at PHS, Bob Kuechenberg said. “In order for the class to run it needs to have at least 20 students with a majority freshman and sophomore demographic, unfortunately that just hasn’t happened. Nevertheless, I’m glad I could pursue another career as a business teacher at PHS, and if German ever does run again, I will be the teacher for it until I retire.”

There was one language formerly taught at PHS that has been removed from the curriculum entirely, Chinese, mostly due to student disinterest. Similarly, Italian is a notable tongue that has never been in the D211 curriculum. 

“Chinese has not been around for the last eight years,” Correa said. “We only had five students in the year before it ended, before that was nine, then the district said we needed a fixed amount of students in order for it to continue and we had to stop it. It’s not just us though, across all our schools Mandarin has decreased in popularity.”

Although it looks like students’ options when choosing classes in the World Language Department are restricted, they could very well see the return or the arrival of new and old language classes here at Palatine in the future. 

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About the Contributors
Noah Anselmo
Noah Anselmo, Reporter
Noah Anselmo is a senior at Palatine high school. He signed up for journalistic writing due to a certain English teacher’s devilish (although he states he’s only passionate) words that managed to rope him into joining the class journalism. Anselmo is a person with a great sense of humor that may or may not be his natural talent of sarcasm, he also quite enjoys learning Spanish as a new language, has a great memory, is deadly afraid of creepy bees and is highly motivated to do his best every single day to make his parents proud. That and strawberry açaí refreshers. 
Casimir Heinritz
Casimir Heinritz, Reporter

Casey Heinritz is a sophomore at Palatine High School. Besides writing and taking photos for Cutlass, Heinritz is a tennis player and yearbook photographer. Some of Heinritz's favorite activities are biking, walking his dogs, and cooking. His favorite dish to make is soft tacos. In the future, Heinritz wants to be an electrician. He’s currently taking electronics at PHS. 

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