Different language, different story

Different language, different story

Keira Apple, Reporter/Photographer

 Different cultures and ethnicities stroll through the hall with people not even knowing it. The Commonwealth has over 100,000 students who speak over 240 languages. The English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students have their own unique stories with English. ESOL classes are offered county wide. 

  “Through this class, the students know they are different but not alone,” ESOL teacher Irina Fontaine said. 

  Students come to Ms. Fontaine knowing little to no English. She adapts her lessons as her students grow and learn a new language. She sets goals for every one of her students, as they all have different levels of their learning course.

  “When I first came here I didn’t know how to say hi or hello,” sophomore Luisette Agosto said. 

  Born and raised in Puerto Rico Agosto moved here due to her parents needing job opportunities. She entered the class when she was in first grade and has been learning ever since. 

  Similarly, sophomore Sal Amilie’s parents are immigrants from Italy and speak Italian. He enrolled in the class in first grade to further his plans on becoming a chef.

  “The biggest difficulty with learning English is going home and speaking another language while having to go back and forth,” Amilie said. 

  The art of navigating two different cultures and two different languages helps build student relationships. When freshman Mike Garcia-Mendez was introduced to Louisa, it was difficult for him to make friends until he came to this class. The friendships helped him through his high school experience.He tends to look up to the upperclassmen who have helped him learn English in spite of his doubts. 

Ramirez has been in ESOL classes since first grade. She is a role model and helps her classmates as much as she can. 

  “There are two non-English speaking students in the class I have class with,” Ramirez said. “I try to translate and tell them what they are doing.”

 Fontaine is passionate about her students, she wants them to be successful in every way possible. Fontaine both teaches her students and builds relationships with them.

  “Ms. Fontaine wants us to be the best version of ourselves and teaches us something I have never known before,” Garcia-Mendez said.