Thursday, October 8, 2009

The United Nations is within my reach...

Every year, I anticipate the start of a new school year. For me, the first day of school is like New Year's Day for other people. I know that anything that happened in the previous school year (difficult students, difficult parents, etc), is gone and I have a new group of children to begin working with.

Because my school is an ESL Site (English as a Second Language), we have many students in various stages of learning to speak English. Some children live in families where a different language is the predominant language of the home, and English may or may not be spoken at all. Some families use their children as their interpreters. We have such a high Hispanic population that we have a full-time bilingual secretary, hired specifically to help us communicate with our Spanish speaking parents.

I've always been lucky in the past that, if I did have ESL students, a lot of the parents could communicate with me without the help of an interpreter. This year is different. In addition to having over half of my class represented by Spanish speakers, I also have four students from countries where we have NO interpreter at all! It's been quite the challenge to learn to work with these kids, but I also feel so grateful that the Lord allowed these kids to be placed in my class! I have learned so much from them already, and we have so many months to go. I can already tell it will be hard to let them go in June.

My school represents 28 countries, and my class alone is made up of students from 9 countries. This is so fascinating to me....I could almost make my own United Nations!

I have 8 students plus myself representing the United States.

There are 7 students who are from Mexico.

There are 2 students who are from Puerto Rico.

One student's family is from Colombia, South America.

Another student's family is from Guatemala.

One student is from Vietnam.

One of my students who doesn't speak English at all is from Turkey.

Another student who doesn't speak English is from Iraq.

And finally, my last two students who do not speak English are from the Karenni state of the country of Burma.

These two students are so special to my heart. They are refugees and have come from such horrible conditions. One of these students came to my class at the very end of last school year and is staying with me again this year. This girl read a Kindergarten level book to me a few weeks ago, and boy did the tears flow! It is so amazing to watch these kids learn.

So this is what I'm dealing with this year! It's exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.


Pam said...

Wow! I dont' know how you do it. I had many ESL students in my class in Guam, but I taught Kindergarten, and a large portion of what I taught was letter sounds, so it didn't matter if they didn't speak English. Everyone was learning together. I can't imagine having older students and trying to work with all those various levels of English ability. I'm sure you are doing a great job, though! It is like having a mission field in your classroom!

Kim said...

I can't think of a better teacher to guide these students. They are blessed to have you and your heart for them is evident. Praying for a great year for you all!