ESL, or English as a Second Language classes, have been developing for the last few years due to the growth of students who come to the school district with little knowledge of the English language. The entire district only has two ESL teachers, Mrs. Kelly Rodriguez and Mrs. Stephanie Yost. Rodriguez is in charge of the elementary school’s ESL program, and Yost is in charge of both the French department and the high school’s ESL program. The students in the ESL programs are from many different places around the world such as: Egypt, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.
There are many contrasts and similarities in the schooling, language, culture and their home-life in the U.S. For example, in Egypt they have field trips, but they do not serve lunch or offer physical education classes. The young women from Egypt were previously required to wear uniforms and hijabs during school and at home as well. ESL students have been just as ecstatic about Chromebooks as native students; they believe that Chromebooks have been more helpful than the paper notes they took prior. It is also common in both Egypt and Mexico to be introduced to foreign languages such as English and French at a young age.
Though many of these students have been introduced to the English language, many are still learning. Many students in the ESL class admit to feeling scared, distraught, and often confused when they first arrived but are adjusting very well now that they have been practicing English. There are a lot of differences between the English and Arabic language.
“It is very different- different alphabet, no vowel markers, different grammar, and stopping mid-sentence may change the meaning of the entire phrase in Arabic,” explained freshman Lara Elsayed from Egypt.
These ESL students have brought many things with them including the culture of their native countries. Many of students come from countries with diverse holidays or festivals. Mexican ESL students celebrate a special holiday that many Americans have never heard of. The religious holiday is set on the December 12, called “Day of the Virgin Guadalupe.” It is celebrated by many Catholics in Mexico and is considered a pilgrimage for them.
“[The holiday is important] because It is believed that if you go to the Basilica [a Catholic church with a dome-like structure on the top] on December 12th, you will be blessed with a miracle,” noted Orlando Ortiz, junior.
The largest change that has been shared by each of these students is their home life in the US. Some play sports like soccer and basketball in their free time, while others have part-time jobs. Working in a different country comes with many valuable experiences.
“It’s pretty fun and you learn a lot with other people. It is difficult sometimes, but if I ask for help, I receive it.” added Junior Juliette Ruiz Sanchez from San Juan.
The majority of students live with their parents with the exception of A-C’s newest Egyptian arrival, freshman Nour Mohamed. She misses her family but is very passionate about living in the US.
“[I feel] loneliness and fear sometimes. It helps to have friends that help me feel like I belong here in my new life [in the US],” confessed Mohamed.
Just as the rest of us, the ESL students have a bright plans for their future. Some plan on staying in the U.S. and others, such as Mohamed, plan on traveling the world.
“When I turn 18, I want to move back to San Juan for college. I will live with my sister and dad when I attend college there,” beamed Ruiz.
A-C gives a warm welcome to many current and future ESL students. The ESL class can help teach A-C students about other countries and the cultures these students bring with them.
Written by Elizabeth Cole