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Bilingual Students Share Experiences

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Many would say Oak Park is a pretty diverse school, and several students are fluent in more than one language.

Senior Camila Koch is a German exchange student in the international club. She speaks both English and German fluently.

“It took me about six years to get fluent in English in school,” said Koch.

Koch explains a common struggle of being bilingual is sometimes mixing up the words in your head.

“[Being bilingual is] weird sometimes, because you think of a word in one language and you want to say it in the other language. Sometimes you even say the word in the other accent. Like I’ll say a German word with an English accent. “

Sometimes I’ll get the words mixed up. I’ll say one word in English and one word in Kurdish. ”

— Saeed

Freshman Shawain Saeed is also bilingual, however, she speaks a more uncommon language. Saeed’s family is from Kurdistan, a subdivision of Iraq.

“Children who are learning a second language follow patterns of learning. The sounds of the first language can influence how the child learns and uses the second language” according to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association,

Koch explained since she lives in the U.S. away from her parents, she pushes herself to speak strictly English while she’s here. But Koch’s parents can speak both languages and in fact, her dad speaks seven languages. Saeed said while her parents do know some English, they aren’t considered fluent, so this means she must speak Kurdish with her parents and English at school.

Saeed’s parents do not speak English, which she says can create some challenges.

“I’m fluent in Kurdish but it’s not the best, so sometimes I won’t know a word in Kurdish, and my parents won’t know the English. I have to try to explain using pictures or something and they still won’t understand,” said Saeed.

Koch explains that since she’s been speaking English for most of her life, being bilingual isn’t as hard as it used to be.

“It’s really not that hard anymore. I just see positive things in it by now,” said Koch.

Some advantages of being bilingual are that you can learn new words easier, and bilingual people tend to be more logical and better at connecting with others. ”


“According to the American Community Survey more than 1 in 5 individuals over the age of 5 (21%) speak a language other than English at home,” according to

Koch and Saeed both agree that there are definitely challenges and advantages of being bilingual and that its pretty cool knowing a language not many people at OP know.


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