Orono’s Language Department: Overviewed


The Daily Evergreen

Read further to learn about Orono’s Spanish, German, and Mandarin courses.

Orono High School offers a wide variety of courses to its students, and this includes the field of foreign languages. At the present, OHS gives students the option of taking three languages from the basics to the AP level, which are: Spanish, Chinese and German. American Sign Language is also a choice for students, but the class is solely online. For students soon to enter OHS, it is important to note the different sectors of the language departments at Orono, so that they might choose courses that suit them best. Furthermore, it is important to acknowledge and commend the OHS language teachers who work to teach Orono’s students another tongue and culture.


“Live interaction in class and seeing students make progress is my favorite part of teaching,” Spanish 3 and Honors Spanish 4 teacher Robert Smalling said.

Every in-class language at Orono has classes that start with level 1 before moving up to Honors 4 and eventually the AP Level. Students who finish their language education at the Honors 4 level are able to take the STAMP Test in order to certify their fluency.

“While not always monetizable, language learning is always positive and has both direct health benefits and the ability to let a student connect with other cultures,” Smalling said.


“Interacting daily with students, along with seeing their progress, year after year, is always a joy,” Shiow-Jen Sun, who teaches all the classes in Orono’s Chinese course track, said.

For any students outside the program, or for those within it that wish to grow their knowledge of Chinese, both Quizlet and Mandarinspot are recommended programs by Sun’s current students.

“Learning another language makes it easier to communicate with others and walk outside one’s bubble, as well as understand other cultures,” Sun said.


“I would say learning a language like German is extremely valuable for traveling or gaining a job. And even if someone does not use it in a large part of their daily lives, it is still important to gain knowledge of another culture too,” Gretchen Ospina said.

Ospina, who teaches German at the 2, 3, Honors 4 and AP level, also likes the interactive culture her classes have. Through seeing the same students again and again, by the time classmates are all at the AP level, each person has formed good relationships with everyone else.

Ospina also added that an in-person class is much more effective in teaching a language in comparison to online programs such as Duolingo or Rosetta Stone because students are able to practice reading, writing, speaking and listening just by being and participating in class.