Class helps with English and Spanish

Published 10:54 pm Friday, November 2, 2018

Once a week, a classroom at King’s Fork High School is filled with students of different cultures working hard to help their fellow classmates succeed.

Students from King’s Fork’s International Baccalaureate and English as a Second Language programs gather to help each better learn English and Spanish under the supervision of Spanish and ESL teacher Jill Vargas.

“We saw an ESL need at the school, and I asked them what they needed,” Vargas said. “They told me that they wanted to speak English with other American students. I’m just here as a facilitator.”

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When her ESL students told her what they needed, she immediately contacted IB program coordinator Stuart Jones. Vargas couldn’t think of a better group of students to help her ESL students become more confident speaking English.

“The IB kids are more caring and want to learn and be here,” Vargas said.

The once-a-week class is completely optional, and the students that attend truly want to be there just to help the others and get better at Spanish. The students have been working together since October.

The class has students that have only been in the United States since August, and Vargas believes that all of them have made large strides since they began the blended class.

“I’m thrilled that they are learning from each other,” Vargas said.

The students are currently working on projects to help expand their vocabularies. Each student picks an activity, like soccer, playing the piano and sleeping, and they have to learn vocabulary words that go along with that activity.

For one student, in particular, being a part of this blended class has helped him get back to his own roots and improve his Spanish.

“I have family in New York, and they speak Spanish. Some of my family is Dominican,” said junior Christian Reid. “I never learned Spanish before, so now I get to get back to my roots.”

Christian, 16, was paired with Maria de los Angeles Martinez Amaya, 15, to make sure his pronunciation and grammar were improving for his project.

The class has proved helpful for Maria, and she believes she is improving her English. Christian assisted to help translate.

Another ESL student, Andrea Erroa, has only been speaking English for six months, but she already understands and speaks English well. The class has helped her improve her English in multiple ways.

“The class is good, and it has helped improve my spelling,” said Andrea, 14.

While language is a large part of the class, the students have the chance to learn more about everyone else’s culture and religion.

“I wanted to better my Spanish, and I have had fun meeting new people and seeing how other cultures work,” said junior Rachel Yang, 16.

Vargas is happy to see the progress with all of her students, and she believes that this program could continue to grow in the years to come.

In a perfect world for Vargas, this will become a class that happens multiple times a week and incorporates more than just English and Spanish. Vargas imagines this to be a multicultural experience.