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World Languages Department

 Christian Seifert World Languages Coordinator
Christian Seifert
(631) 224-2008 *8202

"One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way." - Frank Smith

World Languages Department Mission Statement

     The advantages of learning world languages are increasing as the world becomes gradually more globalized and interconnected.  The ability to speak in other languages is now one of the most valuable and viable skills offered in schools.  The World Languages Department in East Islip School District seeks to promote linguistic and cultural literacy while cultivating a life-long appreciation and enthusiasm for languages and the cultures they represent and reflect.  We believe that all students can learn a new language with the right approach and the right mindset.  We believe world language study is all about learning how to truly communicate and connect with others.  When you reach fluency, you exercise the power of being deeply connected and the ability to think differently.



A Tie-Dye Triumph for the French Club

East Islip High School’s French Club recently held its ninth annual tie-dye bake sale campaign for the She’s the First Foundation, which sponsors education for girls in third-world countries. Club members made tie-dye T-shirts and sold tie-dyed bracelets and cupcakes, surpassing their goal of $400 and raising over $600 for the foundation’s work.

“My thanks to the club’s officers, the staff and the generous students of East Islip for supporting our cause,” French Club adviser Lauren Pinka said.

Honor Society Inductees Recognized

In a terrific series of outdoor ceremonies in the school’s outside sports pavilion, the high school inducted numerous deserving students into the Tri-M Music Honor Society (15 students on June 1), National Art Honor Society (52 students on June 2), World Language Honor Society (83 students on June 7), National Honor Society (66 students on June 8) and Math Honor Society (17 students on June 9). With families in attendance, the inductees were recognized and celebrated. 





Breaking Language Barriers at East Islip HS Via Posters

For this year’s Foreign Language Week poster contest at the high school, the theme was “Languages Break Barriers.” Students studying Spanish, French, Italian or American Sign Language were encouraged to create posters that promote the benefits of learning another language. The posters were judged by teacher Daniel Figliozzi and art department faculty. Jack Wodicka was the first-place winner, Jocelyn Olds finished second, Emily Gut came in third and Chiara Mosca earned honorable mention.


FLHS Honors Seniors and Welcomes New Members

HS Language Students Raise Funds for Senior Scholarships

National Foreign Language Honor Society students at the high school held a Bingo Night on Feb. 6, collecting prizes from local businesses as well as donations from the local community. The event raised approximately $2,000 to fund scholarships for this year’s graduating NFLHS seniors.

“Our sincerest appreciation to the East Islip community and families who made this event possible,” said Italian language teacher Giuseppe Costa.

Celebrating the Study of Languages at EIHS

The annual Foreign Language Week brought exciting activities and celebrations of French, Italian and Spanish language and culture as well as American Sign Language to the high school during the first week of March, confirming the importance of studying world languages.

For the day devoted to American Sign Language, advanced ASL students interpreted popular songs, taught basic signs and played fun games in the library to spread deaf awareness to their fellow peers who are enrolled in a foreign language.

As part of the week’s initiative, students were asked to participate in a poster contest to encourage learning new languages, with this year’s theme being “Explore a Language, The World Needs You!” The winners, selected by art teacher Daniel Figliozzi, were awarded with Barnes & Noble gift certificates provided by the high school’s former language director, Dr. Janet Hiller. Genesis Madera-Blondet earned first place for her poster, while Ella Centauro came in second, Olivia Zhang took third and Madison Sturtz earned honorable mention.

FLHS Honors Seniors and Welcomes New Members

Italian Students Explore Recipes

Thirty high school students studying Italian recently took a special field trip to the A la Carte Cooking School in Lynbrook, participating in a culinary team building experience while making wonderful recipes. The students learned to prepare traditional Italian dishes such as bruschetta, gnocchi, polenta and tiramisu.

An Exciting Honor Society Kickoff

The high school’s National Foreign Language Honor Society recently held its first general meeting of the school year, with 130 out of 193 club members in attendance. This marks the largest ever group of student members for East Islip’s NFLHS. During the meeting, students and co-advisers Giuseppe Costa and Betty Muller discussed additions to Foreign Language Week schedule as well as scholarship fundraiser ideas including an open mic night where teachers and students could perform together and share their talents to build community.

“We are very excited to be able to have such a large group this year and look forward to an amazing year with all of the students at East Islip High School,” said Muller.


EI Partners with Stony Brook for Language College Credits

East Islip has partnered with Stony Brook University’s ACE program to provide the high school’s world language students with college credits. Beginning in fall 2019, high schoolers enrolled in level 4 or 5 French, Italian and Spanish courses may be eligible to earn up to eight credits from Stony Brook.

Led by Dr. Robert J. Wottawa II, the district’s director of art, ENL, music and world languages, East Islip began working through the rigorous approval process last September with three ACE program facilitators, Spanish professor Dr. Lilia Ruiz-Debbie and French and Italian professors Dr. Irene Marchegiani and Dr. Madeline Turan.

“We are excited to begin this partnership with Stony Brook as well as the professional development opportunities they will provide our world language teachers,” said Wottawa. “Stony Brook is nationally recognized and the earned credits are more transferable to other universities. This allows our high school students to earn the required language credits for many degrees or earn college credits that can be used toward their college graduation.”



High Schoolers Take Trip of a Lifetime to Costa Rica

A trip of a lifetime became a reality recently for 29 high school students, who were given the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica accompanied by the school’s world language teachers.

The tour kicked off in the nation’s capital city of San José, where students visited the charming Sarchí village, an old artisan town in the Alajuela Province known for its oxcarts with handpainted wheels. The tour continued with a visit to Arenal Volcano National Park, where the high schoolers were able to hike on rainforest trails and observe wildlife and plant species. The hike also provided access to a closer view of the active volcano itself. The next day, the students went on a kayak excursion on Arenal Lake, followed by another hike to experience hanging bridges, where they saw wild boar, snakes, birds and monkeys. The day ended with a dip in a natural hot spring heated by the volcano.

The students next visited a local elementary school in the town of Monteverde, where they donated items that they brought from home – such as Frisbees, soccer balls, footballs, notebooks, markers, pens and pencils – and observed an actual English lesson. After learning about reforestation, the traveling students planted their own trees to support the land and provide homes for native animals. They also went hiking and ziplining in the cloud forest of Monteverde, and took a horseback ride in the mountains surrounding the forest.

The last segment of the trip was spent along the Pacific coastline, including surfing lessons and a visit to Manuel Antonio National Park, where the students spent the afternoon swimming, relaxing and encountering sloths and friendly spider monkeys. The final night of their Costa Rican adventure was spent back in San José, concluding with a farewell dinner that featured a dance celebration and folklore show. 

“Our students agree that this was a trip of a lifetime, one that they will never forget,” said Spanish teacher Betty Muller. “They were able to appreciate the love that Costa Ricans have for their country. One cannot understand how beautiful this country is and why its people are so happy unless you visit it.”

Four from EIHS Recite at Italian Poetry Contest

Four diligent Italian level 2 and 3 students from East Islip High School – Anthony Rossano, Emma Sasso, Anna Stauber and Gerson Tamayo – competed against more than 300 other students from across Nassau and Suffolk in the 34th annual American Association of Teachers of Italian Long Island Poetry Contest, held on April 12 at SUNY Old Westbury on April 12. It was East Islip’s first time competing in this event. The students were asked to memorize an Italian poem of 12-30 lines and recite it in front of a panel of judges.



Celebrating the Love of Languages at the HS

National Foreign Language Week was celebrated in the high school’s library from March 4-8, bringing a diversity of cultures to the forefront, including American Sign Language. For ASL Day, advanced students signed popular songs, taught vocabulary and the alphabet as well as other survival signs, and played fun, interactive games to spread deaf awareness. On a day for Italian culture, students danced the Neapolitan tarantella.

In Dr. Janet Hiller’s annual Foreign Language Week poster contest, Olivia Zhang took first place, Shannon Wodicka came in second and Olivia Pena in third, with Christian Guiliano earning honorable mention. Hiller, the district’s retired world language chairperson, provided the winners with Barnes & Noble gift cards.

Four high schoolers were also honored as World Language Students of the Month, representing each of the four languages taught by the World Language Department: George Ayoub for American Sign Language, Markus Higgins for French, Gianna Armstrong for Italian and Victoria Keenan for Spanish.



Gelato and a Show Highlight Italian Culture for HS Language Students

The high school’s Italian-language students recently enjoyed a three-part field trip celebrating the language and culture of Italy, beginning with a visit to Caffe Italia in Deer Park to taste fresh gelato. The students tasted a wide variety of gelato flavors as well as biscotti, pastries and cappuccino.

“It was like we were in Italy,” said Emily Gerde, one of several language teachers accompanying the students. “It is the most delicious and fresh gelato you will taste on Long Island.”

The next stop was the Jamaica Performing Arts Center in Queens, where the students took in an interactive performance by Incanto Productions, sponsored by the Italian American Committee on Education. The interactive show, “I Sette Mondi,” incorporated dancing, trapeze artists, and spoken and sung Italian, with audience participation geared toward different levels of language learners.

The day was completed with a trip to Heckscher Park in Huntington, where the students ate lunch and enjoyed the beautiful setting.

An Unforgettable Tour of Spain

A group of 35 advanced language students from the high school had the opportunity to travel to Madrid and southern Spain on an unforgettable educational tour during spring break.

The trip began with a visit to the Prado Museum, home of Spain’s great masters such as Goya, Velazquez and El Greco. The students enjoyed life in Madrid, centered on outdoor cafes, eating tapas and walking through the Plaza Mayor.

Later, the group visited the medieval city of Toledo and viewed a demonstration of sword making. The students walked the twisted alleyways and cobbled streets of Seville, visiting the old Jewish quarter as well as the Columbus gravesite in the world’s largest cathedral.

In Granada, near the snowcapped peaks of the Sierra Nevada, the group toured the imposing but delicate Moorish castle the Alhambra and its luxurious gardens. In the evening, students enjoyed a flamenco dance show.

The high schoolers’ last stop was Cordoba, to see one of Spain’s most impressive monuments, the Mosque-Cathedral dating to the 8th century.

“We walked through picture-perfect narrow white-washed alleys, passing tile-covered patios dotted with vibrant colored flowers,” said teacher Lisa Rapiejko. “Our students enjoyed speaking Spanish and learning about the history of Spain, where the medieval and modern blend seamlessly.”


Piacenti Named Student of Month

Earning recognition in March for her dedication to learning, senior Jordan Piacenti was named East Islip High School’s World Languages Department Student of the Month for study of the Spanish language.

“I have had the pleasure of having taught Jordan as a sophomore, and again this year as a senior,” said teacher Diana Rivera. “She has consistently demonstrated exemplary conduct and character. Her classwork and homework are always completed on time, and her quiz and test scores are outstanding. She is a joy to teach, and it is my pleasure to recognize her achievements as outstanding Spanish student.” 

student image

Foreign Language Week Celebration

With enriching demonstrations of French, Italian and Spanish language and culture, as well as American Sign Language, the high school celebrated Foreign Language Week in the school’s library during the week of March 5.

Tuesday was American Sign Language Day. Students wore T-shirts with sign language messages, signed popular songs in ASL, taught basic signs and the alphabet, and played fun games with visiting fourth-graders from JFK.

For Spanish Day on Wednesday, students watched a Foreign Language Honor Society presentation in the library about the roots of flamenco dancing and how it inspired Irish step dancing. They then moved into the school’s Forum for a live performance by senior Kathryn Bingham, an accomplished Irish step dancer who competes nationally and was honored with first place in a recent competition.

“Kathryn has been dancing for 15 years, and her love of dance was evident as she danced the entire day and encouraged her peers to participate by inviting them on the stage to learn intricate dance steps,” said teacher Lisa Rapiejko.

For Thursday’s French Day, French Club members presented a French cabaret where they sang popular French songs, and Italian Day on Friday found the school’s Italian students demonstrating the tarantella dance, discussing famous singers and songs from Italian culture and teaching some basic vocabulary in Italian.

“Our students certainly enjoyed learning about different languages and cultures through engaging, fun-filled activities,” said Rapiejko.

In the event’s annual poster contest, sponsored by Dr. Janet Hiller, first place went to Joelle Tomossone, second to Emily Alexander, third to Shannon Wodicka and honorable mention to Kelli Karlin. This year’s theme was “Languages: Windows to the World.” Dr. Hiller, the district’s retired world language chairperson, provides the winners with bookstore gift cards.

The Regents Exams May Return

Dec. 15, 2016

We are extremely pleased to announce that recently, the Board of Regents approved a number of items in their 2017-2018 budget proposal, which includes the funding to restore the Regents exams for world languages. Though the legislature and the governor will have the final say, this is a victory for our profession, but more importantly, for the children in New York State.

FLACS and other organizations had conversations with the NYSED Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages about which assessments to restore. The NYSED decided to restore the Checkpoint B Exams in order to use those exams as a pathway (4+1) exam for graduation purposes. If the legislature and governor approve of the funding and the Regents exams for world languages are restored, please know that FLACS will support the NYSED Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages in any way we can to ensure a smooth transition. FLACS will continue to create the Checkpoint A Exams and any of the Checkpoint B assessments that are not currently on the list to be restored by NYSED. At a time when the NYSED eliminated our exams, FLACS mobilized to maintain standards, but more importantly, to ensure that our learners were provided with quality assessments. We have evolved over time to become the largest consortium in New York State to create assessments in Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish. We are proud of our work, but more importantly, we are proud of the world language teachers and administrators who continue to develop items for our assessments on a yearly basis.

FLACS would like to thank Lissette Colon-Collins, assistant commissioner of OBE and WL, for her leadership and collaboration on this important issue that impacts our profession and learners. We also thank the Board of Regents for their support of world languages; their unanimous vote to include funding in their budget to restore our Regents exams reaffirms their commitment to the children of New York State. New York State is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse states in the nation, and our learners deserve quality assessments in a language other than English. The FLACS Board encourages the legislature and governor to support the NYSED budget proposal that includes the restoration of Regents exams for world languages.


The Executive Board, FLACS

Friday, December 02, 2022