For high school seniors Anvee Bhutani and Ishaan Nandwani, studying and learning language is just as important as studying STEM-related subjects. Especially with the Silicon Valley’s significant immigrant population, there is a wide and diverse array of languages spoken in each community. For these reasons, Anvee and Ishaan started the nonprofit language teaching organization, “Legato Lingua”. “Legato Lingua” is an Italian phrase, meaning “smooth or flowing language” which the founders chose to exemplify the importance and significance of the study of language through the goals of their organization.
Legato Lingua organizes classes at libraries and schools, meeting for one hour every week, for 6-8 week sessions. The languages taught vary from Spanish to Hindi, and topics range from grammar and linguistics, to culture and customs associated with the language being studied. Most classes are geared towards children, but adults or parents are welcome as well.
To ensure sustainability of the program, the entire organization works as a nonprofit, so all the curriculum planning and organization happens for the founders on their own time, and they rely on teachers and mentors to help plan out their classes ahead of time. More than anything, they hope that the work that they’re doing helps children develop a strong foundation for languages that bilingual proficiency often requires or creates. Although both founders became fluent in certain languages due to classes taken at school, it was also the exposure they received outside of school, whether it be at home or with friends, that helped them develop their foundation.
Anvee and Ishaan are high school seniors now, but with an ever growing to-do list, they still find time in their schedules to write up lesson plans for classes and teach classes too (although most classes take place over the summer). Even though language is not something they are both aiming to study in the future, they both still agree that learning a language is crucial to development and hope that their bilingual skills will serve them well in college and beyond.
Isha Trivedi is a senior at Notre Dame High School in San Jose, and is an editor for the school newspaper. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, traveling and listening to music.