Languages of West

Although English is a dominantly spoken language, West High is a school composed of a variety of different languages from around the world. Three students share what it’s like growing up learning another language in addition to English.


Maggie Huang ‘21 has been speaking Mandarin Chinese for 13 years. Huang grew up learning Mandarin from her family members and it also happens to be her first language. “All my other family members speak this language.” For any current or new Mandarin learners, Huang has some advice. “The best way is to make other friends who also know Mandarin and practice with them. I think once you speak it more on a daily basis it would get easier with practice.”

In addition to English and Mandarin, Huang would also like to be fluent in Spanish. “I think it would be great to learn more languages. I would love to be able to communicate with more people and learn about their cultures.”

For 12 years of her life, Amy Crespo ‘21 has been speaking Spanish. Crespo’s father taught her English first and then later Spanish. “ My aunt came from Honduras so that’s when I started learning how to speak it.” At home, Crespo speaks both English and Spanish. “I speak English but they talk to me in Spanish.”

Crespo is currently taking Spanish and plans to go for the seal of biliteracy next year. For others learning Spanish, Crespo advises you to take your time to learn the language. If she were to learn another language, Crespo would want to speak Italian.

For her whole life, Razan Hamza ‘21 has spoken Arabic. Her family is from Sudan and Arabic is one of the official languages of the country. Her parents were also taught English as a second language. “It was kind of a mix, I could never tell because I grew up speaking both [English and Arabic] at like the same time.”

Hamza is also learning French at school. “I’ve been learning a lot from the class.” Currently, Hamza is in French 3 and plans on taking AP French next school year. For the past year, Hamza has been learning German on her own time. “I just watch a ton of videos and do a lot of research really. I have a couple of websites that I go back to a lot.”

For people currently learning Arabic, Hamza says to “be patient because it’s a very difficult language. I’m glad that I learned it while I was still really young.” Hamza plans to take Spanish in college as well.

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