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Supporting English Language Learners in the Classroom

Starting a service year with City Year, I was nervous about what the experience would be like. Now that I’ve started, I realize that I had no reason to be nervous.

My new favorite feeling is hearing/seeing students arrive to school. My teammates and I are on campus before students and what lets me know that students are arriving is the sound of laughter and funny conversations coming from the hallways.

On days when I am low energy or tired, seeing and speaking with students completely turns my day around. I especially love seeing the students I support daily because of the way they approach and talk to me, it’s been rewarding to see them become more comfortable with me and not as shy as they were at the beginning of the year.

One of my best experiences so far has been during small group time in class and working with a student named Carl. Carl is an English language learner and is a hard working student. He tends to struggle pronouncing words in English but he always has a smile on his face.

When I work with Carl, I focus on English-Spanish translations to support his English language skills. What has been most impactful so far has been incorporating hand movements that relate to the new words that he is learning. Carl gets super excited when he remembers words without my support and I can see this excitement motivates him to want to study more.

It has been rewarding to see how much his confidence has grown since I began to work with Carl. The other day, in class, he volunteered to stand and read his sentence out loud during grammar time, something that he would have shied away from at the beginning of the school year. As the year progresses, I am excited to see him have more conversations in English and I am glad I will get to see his growth firsthand.

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