English Language Learners: New Country, New Challenges
By: Olivia Fasullo
Imagine being dropped into another high school, like Cardinal Newman or Bishop Tonnos, in the middle of the semester. You don't know anyone, you need to make new friends, your classes have already started, you need to catch up. The situation is terrifying to most. Now imagine, to add to your anxiety, you don’t speak the language of the country and you don’t know its culture.
The situation becomes even more terrifying.
This is what ELL (English Language Learner) students face every day.
Many ELL students at STM face difficulties that are unimaginable to most of us. They face anxiety over their lack of language skills and have difficulty communicating in their academics. Not only do they face the pressures of every other student, such as tests and homework, they face translating each lesson from a foreign language to their own.
Students who have excelled all their life in school are suddenly left grasping to pass English courses necessary to graduate and having to take courses meant for younger students. Occasionally there are gaps in the curriculum which causes more strife for the school-life of an ELL student. The hardships of school become ten times harder as the pressure to succeed in a new environment mounts. Yet there is more to school than coursework, especially at STM. STM has countless clubs and events, and many ELL students miss out on the chance to join due to the language barrier.
Fortunately at STM, ELL students receive support from their teachers and the Student Success Department to help them excel . Melad Ashaq (Grade 12) came to Canada about four years ago from Iraq. At first, he “…was very nervous to talk to others,” due to his lack of English. He had “…zero English” when he came to Canada, but everyone was very helpful. Despite facing a new culture and new people, he thought “most people [were] very friendly.” Melad is excited to graduate and hopes to become a businessman.