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Aboard the Linguistic Train

Noa Cordova

Volume 4 Issue 4

May 29, 2024

Aboard the Linguistic Train

Image Provided by Noa Cordova

This Spring, the Culture Fair, movies in language classes, music in the halls, and paper flowers officiated Foreign Language Month here at North. Foreign Language Month celebrations are meant to foster a deeper appreciation for all our various cultures and most importantly, their languages. “Learning languages promotes friendships” was this year’s Foreign Language Week theme. What else do languages promote? According to an article from the University of North Georgia, languages also promote an understanding of abstract concepts and better communication skills. As we move toward next school year, as the language learners many of us are, we should pledge with ourselves to continue our language studies; a pledge to continue pursuing the study of language is a pledge to enhance your academic and personal journey. I spoke to Ms. Scaglione, nicknamed “Scagz” by the North community, to get her perspective on languages as an Italian teacher; it is not a surprise that she believes that through language, “the world is yours; you conquer it.”   


Conversation Starter 

Ms. Scagz firmly believes in “the power of the word” regardless of the language. While having only Spanish and Italian to choose from may seem limiting, as someone who has studied both, the benefits of learning them are limitless. A point of emphasis of Foreign Language Month is that languages expand your worldview and foster an appreciation of diverse cultures. Studying the way a language flows, the expressions, and its idiosyncrasies, enhances your understanding of the members that speak it. Regardless of the language, learning a foreign language stimulates your brain in a way that cannot be underestimated. As highlighted in an Ithaca College article, studying a foreign language “increases analytical abilities” and aptitude in working with “abstract concepts” which sharpens cognitive abilities. During my interview with Ms. Scagz, she expressed that with foreign languages “you have control of everything you need to communicate effectively.” Effective communication in either Spanish or Italian can help form friendships. As a Spanish speaker, I have expanded my social circle significantly by putting myself out there and using my language skills. The ability to communicate with new people is an invaluable part of the language-learning experience and by far one of my favorites. Ms. Scagz shares, “Whether I was sitting in an airport or office, I would find that knowing different languages would somehow commence a conversation.” By the end of foreign language week and my interview with Ms. Scagz, it is reasonable to establish that knowing a foreign language is a big conversation starter.  


Interview Pleaser  

From what I have observed as a language student, job opportunities motivate students to learn a foreign language, and with good reason. It is without a doubt knowing a second language can prove useful in a future career and can make you more marketable when it comes to interviewing for a job. Based on Ms. Scagz’s experiences, knowing a foreign language is a big “interview pleaser”, and found that she was hired for virtually every job she applied for. Of course, knowing a second language does not guarantee placement in a field, and the demands of certain careers may vary, but it will not be disregarded in an interview.  


Linguistic Train  

Ms. Scagz’s students are familiar with her infamous concept of the linguistic train which occupies the back bulletin board of her classroom. The linguistic train represents the journey languages will take you on; they will take you far. As Ms. Scagz emphasized, “Knowledge of languages is power. You’re either on a linguistic train or you are not and if you’re on it, the more well-rounded you will be." Telling by the undeniable benefits of learning a language, boarding this theoretical linguistic train, will provide you with concrete skills that will shape your future. 


Bonus interview questions with Scagz: 


How long have you been teaching? 

“30 years…I started teaching at 23 in college.” 


Why did you become a world language teacher? 

“I was kind of pushed into it by my professors. They kept throwing scholarships and positions at me and I couldn’t say no. I wanted to open up my restaurant. I also wanted to be a translator; I was thinking of working in tourism in Europe.” 


Has learning languages promoted friendships in your life? 

“And that’s another thing whether it is sitting in an airplane, airport, or office I would find that knowing different languages would somehow commence a conversation. Even on a train… a lot of times I was asked because I was watching a foreign film, watching an Italian or Spanish film and that would start a conversation. It was amazing, I made friends.” 


Are there any challenges that come with speaking more than one language? 

“I don’t know if I could say there are challenges there and more opportunities. More ability to understand things. Sometimes I’m bewildered as to how I can connect things. You could put me in a room with the pope or the president and I could end up having a conversation where I could give my knowledge and get that respect back. It's more opportunistic than challenging.” 


Is there anything I didn't ask you that you would like to talk about? 

 “I have found in languages something I can’t even explain. I zone in on words…my biggest objective in life, even though I didn’t want to be a teacher, is to give my students the same experience and knowledge and have them love the language instead of having them turned off to them...for them to see the power in language even if it’s hard." 




Why Study a Foreign Language? ( 

Why You Should Study a Foreign Language | Ithaca College 

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