Building skills to break barriers

Emily Koh, Staff Writer

While many children grow up bilingual, Diamond Bar High School freshman Katrine Lee has become partially fluent in three languages: Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

“We always had this cycle of learning a lot and my family is super open to learning different languages,” Lee said. “They think it’s a really useful skill and I guess it’s also in our genes.”

Growing up, Lee learned Chinese listening to her mother speak to her in her native language. Now, she takes Chinese in school as her foreign language class. This language contributed to her learning Korean and Japanese because of similar tones and grammar in Asian languages.

When she was young, Lee enjoyed Japanese TV shows and while watching, she picked the vocabulary, grammar and the sentence structures of the language. She began private tutoring for Japanese in middle school when her parents encouraged her to learn more. After progress learning the language, Lee was inspired to begin learning Korean about a year ago, urged on by her many Korean friends.

“I want to spend more time working on my Japanese, Korean and Chinese to develop a really comfortable place so I can have a normal flowing conversation with someone,” Lee said.

She has private tutoring once a week for Japanese, and studies on her own for it as well. Lee also practices Chinese every day in her foreign language class at DBHS and sets aside time on the weekends to practice and learn Korean.

“Managing my time to keep practicing and reviewing is definitely the hardest part of learning so many languages,” Lee said. “It’s hard to keep up with it.”

Although time management can be difficult, being fluent in several languages has been a dream of Lee’s since she was little.

“I think since I was really young, people were always asking, ‘if you had a superpower, what would you have: would you fly, would you be invisible?’ I would always say I want to speak every single language in the world,” Lee said.