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ESOL program helps bilingual students

English+as+a+Second+Language+students+watch+a+video+intently+Thurs.+Oct+11.+As+part+of+the+class%2C+a+student+shares+a+video+in+their+native+language+each+week.
English as a Second Language students watch a video intently Thurs. Oct 11. As part of the class, a student shares a video in their native language each week.

English as a Second Language students watch a video intently Thurs. Oct 11. As part of the class, a student shares a video in their native language each week.

Esrom Griffin

Esrom Griffin

English as a Second Language students watch a video intently Thurs. Oct 11. As part of the class, a student shares a video in their native language each week.

Melanie Mnirajd, Design Editor

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The ESOL program has been helping Piper students who speak different languages.

“ESL (English Second Language), which is now referred to as ELL (English Language Learners) or ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages), is a program that offers some form of assistance or accommodations to our bilingual or multilingual students,” ESOL coordinator Elizabeth Schmeltzer said. “Students range from a person who just moved here from another country to a student who has lived here their whole life, but speaks another language with their family.”

Schmeltzer is the ESOL coordinator for Piper High School. She is responsible for monitoring who qualifies for the program and working with other teachers to find ways to help bilingual or multilingual students. She also teaches some of these students in the ESOL Tutorial class, which currently has 14 students enrolled.

Schmeltzer was inspired to teach ESOL by her experiences from advocating for a community of migrant farmworkers at a non-profit organization, in which she looked after the workers’ children, and coordinating a youth group. Many of the students in the youth group were not going to college, which she felt was unfair.

“I wanted to become an ESL teacher so that I could level the playing field by giving all students the support, encouragement, and help they need so they too could be successful,” Schmeltzer said.

In ESOL Tutorial class, students receive help with homework from other classes and work on improving their English skills, which the students find helpful.

“It helps me on my essays because I’m taking Composition 1, and I really struggle with my essays,” senior Samuel Gracia Peña, whose first language is Spanish, said. “Mrs. Schmeltzer helps me with my writing.”

Junior Claudia Her agrees that the ESOL program is helpful.

“It’s provided me with more chances to expand my vocabulary because it’s really hard when you also speak another language,” Her said. Her can speak Hmong, but she usually speaks English.

The ESOL program also has other benefits outside of class.

“It gives me some benefits like for example, when I take an ACT, just for being in the program, they give me accommodations like extended timing, and I can use a bilingual dictionary,” Peña said.

Schmeltzer agrees that accommodations are helpful for bilingual or multilingual students.

“There are many students from other countries or students who speak other languages at home who are extremely bright,” Schmeltzer said. “Their grades wouldn’t reflect their ability if they did not receive accommodations due to language barriers.”

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ESOL program helps bilingual students