Students keep up language skills

English as a Second Language added to summer program

Escuela en el verano? Yes, there is school in summer – for about 15 of District 87’s students who don’t speak English as their native language.

This is the first year District 87 has offered summer school for bilingual and English as a Second Language students. ESL teachers Gloria Trejo and Nelly Vasquez are pleased with the five-week program, which ends Friday.

“A lot of the times, what happens is since only Spanish is taught in the home, they come back (to school in fall), and they’re like ‘Oh, I forgot,’ ” Trejo said. Now, after just a two-week break at the end of the school year, “they’re picking it up so quickly.”

On Wednesday, the children who will be first-graders in Trejo’s class, and the third- through fifth-graders in Vasquez’ class joined to read short books together and play a game testing their ability to recognize letters.

Third-graders Yesenia Soria and Felisa Almanza helped Elias Joaquin, who will be in first grade this fall.

“Three little teddy bears to play with me. Me,” Soria said, pointing to herself to emphasize the word “me.” When they finished the story, Soria asked Joaquin, “Que paso en the story? What happened in the story?”

Both girls were born in Mexico, and have been working on their own reading and math skills this summer. Just a few years ago, they were in Joaquin’s place, learning a brand-new language. Now in Vasquez’ bilingual class, they receive reinforcement in math and other subjects with the help of their native language.

In Unit 5, there is no separate summer class for non-native speakers, said Cathy Greene, the director of elementary and gifted education.

“Many (bilingual students) are included in reinforcement classes, but not as a separate component,” Greene said. “Traditionally, there has not been a call from the public. Parents have told us they’ve wanted those students included in the classroom with English-speakers.”

Unit 5’s summer school program is under way at Hoose, Northpoint, Pepper Ridge and Parkside Elementary.

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