By RJ Townsend
Moving to Indiana can be a change. Sometimes the change is the landscape or the smell in the air. But how difficult could the change be if you ended up having to learn a completely new language?
The change can be easier when people are on your side. At Delta High School, there is a new program for students that are learning in their new environment: ESL, English as a Second Language.
This class is in Mrs. Amanda Craw’s second period freshman English honors class.
There are two students in the program as of this semester. Thao Phan, a 17-year-old from Vietnam, is completely new to the states. There’s also Yaroslav Kobernyk, 17 years old from Ukraine, who is known as Yarik around the school.
The class also has a student teacher, who herself went through ESL when she was in grade school and middle school in California.
Student teacher Karen Palencia, who moved to Indianapolis with her family when she was in high school, is one of the only people at Delta certified to teach students ESL.
Her first language is Spanish. It took her until she was in seventh grade to be able to speak English fluently. This is something that connects her to the students.
Both Mrs. Craw and Ms. Palencia taught students ESL before, but with Yarik and Thao it’s different. They’re older, which makes the challenge more difficult. But both teachers have hope the two are gaining experience in the subject.
“I’m hoping that they will talk more and that they will write more,” Palencia said.
Mrs. Craw has taught ESL before but never at Delta. She worked at Jay County for eight years. It was normal for Jay to have many students learning English.
She’s always liked the amount of progress she can see when she teaches the students.
“I like that it’s a challenge and that every student is different,” Craw said.
ESL is a national program that has been a part of several communities for decades. The topics have changed, however.
The 9th grade English classes this semester read the tragic story of Romeo & Juliet. Thao and Yarik read the story with a graphic novel to help them through the five acts of the story.
The two also participated in the project Ms. Palencia assigned to the students. There were two different projects to choose from. One was to arrange a funeral for one of the ill-fated characters, and the other was to create a dating app for some of the eligible characters.
“This class helps me learn more about communication and vocabulary,” Thao said.
The class is doing its job and both Thao and Yarik are getting more proficient in English. With many different topics and resources that help them daily, their future in English is looking bright.