Diversity is what keeps us together

ESL class promotes unity and respect one student at a time


Lela Coker photo

Martyn Elorz and Franciszek Jablonski finalize the diversitree decorations at the front of the school.

Abby Lincks, Editor

For the first time, the English Second Language class put a Christmas tree in the front of the school to promote diversity. The decorations surrounding the tree represent the different holidays ESL students celebrate from their mother country along with posters detailing the facts of each holiday.

“We want to say that we’re from different countries but want to represent this country,” ESL student Giovanni Centonze said. “[We hope that] students see we’re from different countries but aren’t actually different.” 

One of the main goals of the ESL class is to promote diversity in school, work and social environments.

“I am really into diversity because diversity is the one true true thing we all have in common,” ESL teacher Mima Nazarene said. “It is really important that every school have English Second Language classroom to advocate for students who don’t speak English.”

The ESL class provides students who come from foreign countries and are still learning English a chance to learn the language. The class works toward advancing students’ communication skills, confidence levels and helps them adapt academically overall with classes outside of the ESL classroom. 

“It is important because it gives them that foundation, that comfort level to learn English as a second language,” Nazarene said. “And so, if they’re struggling, this class is like a support class.” 

ESL not only helps students improve on their communication skills in English but also their confidence levels. It strives to make them want to advocate for themselves, their beliefs and diversity as a whole. 

“Attending this class has helped me with my communication skills by the teacher helping me with my confidence,” ESL student Ngoc Pham said. “My classmates have helped me with my confidence and talking, so I will be more open minded.” 

Although Nazarene may have few students in her class, they are all at different levels of learning English. Because of this, she provides multiple fluctuating lesson plans for each of her students to meet the attention of what they need to improve on the most. 

“For ESL program, it’s very important that you differentiate,” Nazarene said. “Differentiation meaning you are meeting the level of the kid depending on their proficiency because that’s the only way you can teach them.”

Because students are at different levels, they all have different strengths and weaknesses. ESL class is more than just continuing to learn more information, but improving on specific struggles and helping fellow classmates who need additional help as well.

“My weakness is reading,” Pham said. “I am kind of bad at reading so my teacher always tells us to read more books. I think I am good at talking, I talk more.”

As ESL continues to teach students English language and communication skills, this can not only help them in that specific criteria but other academic courses as well such as math, science and social studies. By teaching them to communicate successfully, this allows students to be able to talk efficiently to other students and teachers when they need help. The class also helps them communicate when they are applying for a job professionally.

“I want them to be out there, advocating for themselves, make friends, to be very independent, to be comfortable in an environment that speaks English as a first language and not as a second language,” Nazarene said. 

The ESL classroom walls are filled with past pictures of ESL learners and tons of bright colors, walls filled with inspirational quotes and even a reading corner where students can sit together. The relationship between the students with each other and Mrs. Nazarene is treated like a family where they often hug and say “love you” and “have a great day.”

“You have this sense of having a family when in the class,” Pham said.

As a former ESL learner herself, Nazarene wants her students to not just be willing to learn but to want to learn and have the motivation to learn. Over the past couple of years, she has had a struggle with the motivation levels of the students in her class involving them not wanting to learn and feeling isolated because of the new environment they are in. 

“I had the struggle and I had to learn and have motivation,” Nazarene said. “I feel that I have to keep reminding them, ‘This is an opportunity, please take this opportunity and run with it because this country is full of opportunities.’”

Before a student learns anything in ESL class, they have to be motivated to learn more and do more. Nazarene makes the point that although she wished motivation can be taught, it can’t. She believes motivation kids need for the class and for life comes from within. 

“They need the motivation, the desire to learn,” Nazarene said. “They need determination and the ability to not be afraid like, to ask.”