Imagine you’re in a room and surrounded by people communicating with each other in a language you do not know. As they speak, you are lost, confused. Now imagine this happens everywhere you go. This is how students new to the United States feel every day. That is why Kimmons provides the English Language Learner (ELL) program.
ELL, which has existed for over forty years, helps students become successful in speaking English. Some ELL students learn quickly and are able to exit the program.
“I was in the program for a total of three years and was sad when I left but proud of myself because I never thought I was going to make it,” Kerly Nieto, 9th, said.
Getting out of the program is sometimes very difficult for the student. Their skills are put to the test.
“Well, it was difficult at Darby Junior High because I didn’t have a teacher like Mrs. Garcia or Mrs. Martinez to help me the same way they help other people,” Kerly said. “I had a friend that could barely speak Spanish, and she was the one that was helping me, so it was difficult.”
For other ELL students here, coming to America was scary.
“The hardest part about coming to America from Vietnam was that I did not know the language,” Uyen Khuu, 7th, said. “I didn’t know how to communicate. It was hard learning English, but my friends and teacher helped me.”
The ELL students had to overcome obstacles; some harder than others.
“I had to leave my mom and sister in Honduras,” Bessy Nieto, 9th, said. “It was hard because they are very important to me.”
To make the transition easier, ELL teachers try their best to make everything as smooth as possible.
“I believe that the best technique to use with ELLs to help them learn English is using visuals such as pictures, videos, and lots of graphic organizers,” Mrs. Martinez, 7th grade ELL teacher, said.
The ELL teachers have discovered along their career that some techniques work better than others.
“I use visuals and make the directions shorter,” Mrs. Garcia, 8th grade ELL teacher, said. “I make it into steps to break it down.”
Being an ELL teacher is a challenging job as it requires patience, time, and motivation. The ELL program not only impacts the students, it also impacts the teachers as well.
“After teaching elementary students for eighteen years, I wanted a change and a challenge,” Ms. Munsell, 9th grade ELL teacher, said.
Mrs. Garcia, who came from Mexico, can relate to what the newcomers experience.
“I was an ELL learner myself, and I know what they are going through,” Mrs. Garcia said.