A group of Naperville carolers on Thursday proved "fa la la la la" sounds festive in any language.
Roughly 30 students taking foreign language classes at Naperville North High School -- and six of their teachers -- sang in six languages Thursday to residents of the nearby Community Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
The carolers, for example, sang "Jingle Bells" in French, German, Latin, Spanish and Chinese, said Lisa Shamrock, who teaches French at the school.
"Some of us just have to kind of hum along with the Chinese," she said.
The informal tradition has been going on for at least a dozen years, with students giving up an afternoon to bring songs to seniors and practice their language skills along the way. Shamrock said participating students, who aren't required to go sing as part of their classwork, add to the cheer by bringing homemade cards with warm holiday wishes.
"If they're people who don't get many visitors or mail," Shamrock said about nursing home residents, "we try to cheer them up a little bit."
Singers stuck with familiar songs and sang for nearly an hour after walking to the nursing home after school. Keeping the songs classic helps as the high schoolers don't have much time to rehearse, Shamrock said.
For the finale, the carolers translated again from the lyrical Spanish and the gruff German back to English.
"We finish with carols in English that the residents may know," Shamrock said, "so they can join in."