ESOL Students Reluctant to Go to Regular Academic Support Rooms


by Babak Ganjavian

Many of the ESOL students who take regular classes are unwilling to go to regular academic support rooms. Instead many go to the ESOL support room to get help in doing their homework or understanding the concepts.

One day after school in the ESOL help room a Vietnamese girl who asked not to reveal her name sat there with an open algebra 2 book without anyone to help her. She had trouble with English. "I went to the math help room once but I was not able to explain to the teacher what my problem was. This is my last chance and I might get some help." she said.

An Ethiopian boy was also waiting for someone to help him also complained about English but said he had never been in a regular help room. " I never go there because I can't speak English well and the teacher wouldn't understand me. " He was there to get help in chemistry. " I have no other options ," he said.

A Spanish girl who also didn't want to be identified who is in regular English said she was there to get help in English. She speaks English perfectly but feels more comfortable in the ESOL help room. " I don't think I can speak English well enough, " she said.

But the problem is that teachers in the ESOL help room have a difficult time helping with all the different subjects because they do not know what the teacher had taught in class and in some cases they do not have the knowledge of that subject at all. They are there to help ESOL students in their English and maybe in basic math but they can't help with advanced math or chemistry or physics. Ms. Bohorquez who is in charge of the ESOL help room said, "We have some teachers to help them with their English or maybe sometimes with math but we do not have science or math teachers in the ESOL help room."

"English is the major problem and most of the ESOL students are afraid of English," she added. "They come to the ESOL help room after the teacher had taught six chapters and they have failed all the exams and it is too late and too hard for us to help them to catch up to the class."

To solve this problem Ms. Bohorquez says they have thought of some solutions. "We can send someone to go with them to regular help rooms. In case that they do not understand the translator can help them." But, she added, "We have translators in Spanish and Vietnamese. We do not have any in Amharic and French."

Mr. Jensen, the Math Department Resource Teacher, said that they only have two teachers who speak Spanish and they can't help all the ESOL students. He suggested that ESOL students find someone who speaks their language to help them.

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