Sounding out the schools on language diversity

Language is defined in the dictionary as the use of voice sounds, and often written symbols representing these sounds, in organized combinations and patterns to express and communicate thoughts and feelings.

The Northwest suburbs – especially the schools – are a confluence of languages and histories. Here’s a sample of the linguistic diversity in area schools.


The number of Northwest Suburban High School District 214 students who speak a language other than English at home. About 5,700 out of the district’s total 12,000 students also are enrolled in French, Spanish, Japanese, German or Italian classes.


The number of students learning sign language in Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54. About 90 students learn sign language in the district’s early childhood program. District 54 will launch a full, sign-language curriculum at Blackwell School in Schaumburg this fall.


The number of Limited English Proficient students in Palatine- Schaumburg High School District 211. These students account for 3.3 percent of the district’s student population and represent 36 different language groups.


The number of languages other than English spoken at home by about 3,810 Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 students. More than 1,150 of these students are enrolled in the district’s transitional bilingual program.

The district also offers Spanish dual language programs at MacArthur and Enders-Salk schools. Eisenhower Junior High School will start a Spanish dual language program and Dooley School a Japanese dual language program in the 2001-2002 school year.


The number of languages spoken by Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59 certified teachers who teach English as a Second Language. The district’s students speak about 40 different languages at home. The largest number of bilingual students speak Spanish, followed by Polish and Gujarati, which originates from India.


The number of World Language Clubs in Palatine Township Elementary District 15. District 15 elementary schools do not offer foreign language as part of the curriculum, so each school sponsors the club. In District 15 junior high schools, however, about 2,000 students are enrolled in Spanish, French or German classes.


Harper College offers courses for eight different languages. For $ 54 per credit hour, community members can enroll in four-credit- hour classes for Spanish, French, German and Japanese. The college also offers non-credit continuing education classes for those four languages and also Polish, Italian, Chinese and Russian. The eight- week continuing education classes cost $ 110.

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