ESL Classes Help International Students Integrate with Peers
Byline: Samantha Campanaro
For many students, high school itself is a challenge.
Most students, though, don't have to conquer the language barrier that 18 students at Lisle High School have to attack before they can begin to learn here.
Students in the English as a Second Language program come from many countries around the world, including Albania, Mexico, Vietnam, France, Pakistan and Ecuador. The students may have a language barrier, but qualified people are willing to help.
"First, I try to make them feel at ease and let them know I understand their frustration," ESL instructor Cindy Chovelak said.
The students have a basic English class during the day. They are learning English at a level similar to students in beginning-level foreign language classes. There is one disadvantage, though - the teacher may not always know a student's native language.
"We go slowly in class so they do not have the feeling of being lost," Chovelak said. "I praise them frequently and help them focus on their accomplishments instead of dwelling on their language needs."
Students have a special a study hall, and their instructors have special certification and typically have taught foreign languages.
"These times help with my class work," said senior ESL student Margarita Contreras of Lisle.
Teachers often gain insight into their own teaching styles by having ESL students in class.
"I'm not trained to assess whether or not they understand," math teacher Jennifer Pomatto said. "I have found that it is beneficial to put my Spanish-speaking kids together, though."
In most cases, regular teachers have a difficult time meeting the language needs of ESL students, simply because they teach at a pace appropriate for the majority of students. …