Foreign Language at SJS

At St. Josaphat School, we believe that foreign language instruction provides our students with important learning opportunities. Our foreign language faculty teach our students important vocabulary and grammar concepts, and our students learn about the communities and cultures in which the languages are spoken.

Our students have the opportunity to learn both French and Spanish. In our early childhood program, students have half a year of French and half a year of Spanish. In these grades, students are introduced to the languages through songs, games, and simple conversations. For the elementary grades, students study Spanish in first and third grade, and French in second and fourth grade. 

Students build on the introduction to the language by developing a larger vocabulary through games, conversation, and activities. At the end of fourth grade, students decide which of the two foreign languages they will pursue in junior high, and they study only that language from fifth through eighth grade. Many of our eighth grade students test into the second year of their selected foreign language in their high school language placement test.

Below please take the time to learn a little more about our foreign language teachers!

Heather Meindl, French teacher

1) Where are you from? Born in Chicago. I've lived in France and Québec during college and the early years of my career. 

2) Where did you go to school? University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana and Université d'Avignon for my undergraduate degree. DePaul University for my master's degree in World Language Education. 

3) Why did you decide to teach French? I have a bachelor's degree in economics and international relations and I was using my French language to conduct business in Québec. I realized how much I loved to mentor and inspire people. My enthusiasm for French language and francophone culture has always been a defining factor of my character so it was a natural career transition to go into French Education. I could continue to bring out the best in people and share my passion for language and culture!

4) What do you like about teaching at SJS? I love that we, as a school community are focused on educating the whole child - spiritually and academically. Being in a Catholic school opens up opportunities to explore the Church's past and current relationship with the francophone world. This intersection of language, culture and faith can inspire students to connect with French language in a very practical and meaningful way.

5) Where do you like to travel? Quebec City is a magical and under appreciated place. You can stroll along the St. Lawrence with a delicious ice cream cone! You can go kayaking and hiking in National Parks. The culinary scene is also something not to be missed. If you're a history buff, or just curious why some people speak English and others speak French in Canada, you're at ground zero for learning!

I love to visit Nice, France and any of the surrounding villages of the Côte d'Azur. You can spend a full day enjoying life's simple pleasures: outdoor markets, turquoise beaches, and picnics. It's a place where you can really slow down, grab a good book and a croissant and just be. 

Anais Vila-Herrera, Spanish teacher.  

1) Where are you from? I am from Cuba.

2) Where did you go to school? I studied in Cuba and the University of Matanzas "Camilo Cienfuegos"

 3) Why did you decide to teach Spanish? Teaching a foreign language is incredibly rewarding. I absolutely love to teach Spanish. I get to share my enthusiasm for the language and cultures. The most rewarding part is watching my students grow and learn. Because when I teach a young age, I am able to help them build a foundation for their entire learning experience in Spanish.  

4) What do you like about teaching at SJS? I like to teach at St Josaphat School because the students and parents are very engaged in learning, and they come to our school with strong family values and a willingness to be a “team” in their child’s “whole person.” I enjoy the daily interaction with the students. I have been blessed knowing many great teachers in this school. St Josaphat is an authentic community.

5) Where do you like to travel? Travel is a passion for me.  To where?  That part doesn’t matter. Every new place gives me experiences that have helped shape my perspective. However, two places are very important to me, Cuba and Argentina. My dreams: New Zealand, Greece, and Japan.