Lift off Project Launches Language Skills of ESL Students

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 22, 2001 | Go to article overview

Lift off Project Launches Language Skills of ESL Students


Byline: Cathi Edman

Russia, Vietnam, Iraq, Iran and the United States lined up on the field to wait for the test missile launch.

Each nation's representative held his breath, hoping his part in the experiment lived up to expectations.

Vietnam supplied architectural skills, Russia the pilot, United States the launch supervisor and Iraq and Iran assisted with actual assembly.

"I like firing it into the sky," pilot Vadim Krivopishchenko said in heavily-accented English.

Vietnamese architect Long Tran described his portion. "I supposed to draw and make pictures."

"It was the blue prints and measurements," his friend and launch supervisor Scott Larson explained, helping Tran with his translation.

Take note, world leaders.

Multi-national cooperation can happen. Successfully.

The place? Wheaton. The team? Fifth-grade students in the English as a Second Language Program at Madison Elementary School in Wheaton who were paired with general education students for the science project.

Language skills and cultural backgrounds didn't matter here. This was just a bunch of kids having a blast while learning a little something, too, teacher Tom Grace explained.

After spending most of the year working intensively on their language skills, the ESL students were paired with a "buddy" in science to create a bottle rocket using air pressure as a launch mechanism.

Communication between countries was less a factor than in any other class.

"They can handle the science," ESL teacher Grace said of his charges.

It gives the non-native English speaking students a chance to learn "survival language," he explained. It also gives the general education students a chance to see the ESL students as true peers.

It was truly an international collaboration, with no one role being more important than any other.

"I give the tape and they taped it," Masoud Khamisi, of Iran said, proudly, as his new buddies hooked up yet another of their rockets for a test drive.

Club closes year with mural: After the finishing touches were put on the new mascot mural in the gymnasium, Turner Elementary School's inaugural art club disbanded for the year.

The West Chicago school is hoping it won't be the club's only year. …

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