ESOL program helps students with language barrier during pandemic

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Students and families who speak English as a second language are dealing with new challenges because of the non-traditional start to the school year, but teachers are working to make the most of the situation.

A mom tells us her son move to the United States last year and is still learning English. Remote learning has been difficult. But she says the school is doing what they can to help ease the stress. Sandra Tabullo who speaks little English says the first week of school has been challenging.

“Para mi también es difícil”, “For me it’s a little difficult” she says,

“Porque no puedo ayudarlo en ése aspecto”, “Because I cannot help him in that aspect.”

She says it’s difficult for second language students to get the attention they need, with remote learning. But Wichita Public School teachers are working to bridge the gap.

“We just try to get to know our kids so they’re feeling comfortable and then as they build their confidence help them with sentence starters,” said Emily Williams, ESOL teacher at Allen Elementary.

Teachers say they’re coming up with new techniques like creating visual note cards, repeating sentences several times, and asking bilingual para-educators to sit in any time a student has a question.

“So, we walk them through the steps together then we do it a second time,” said Kate Ogden, ESOL teacher at Allen Elementary.

Wichita schools also expanded their ESOL team during this time to make sure English as a second language families with additional questions can call their students school during school hours and receive help from a bilingual employee throughout the school year.

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