Bilingual students find social challenges

Jordan Wood


Darla Burrola, Reporter

For bilingual students, not fully understanding English makes the first years of school extremely difficult. Teachers and students need to work to together to be able to learn and grow with the other students. Cri Burns, a first grade teacher from Columbia Elementary, explains that teachers helping these students must be ESL ( English As a Second Language) qualified. “We have to be qualified we’ve gone through courses and we’ve been certified. And in these courses we learn different approaches  that we can use to assist these students when they have difficulties understanding certain things that you’re presenting to them,” said Burns.


There are many different approaches to assist ESL students that tend to be successful. One of the most common in a first grade classroom is labeling.

“They will label certain things so that if they’re not sure what a chair is they’ll see a picture then the word chair underneath and other things like that,” Burns explained. They will also constantly check on the child to see how they’re doing.

ESL students also have to make a certain effort to play catch up with the other students. Christina Hough tells us what she had to do when transferred to a Japanese school then back to an American school.

“For first and second grade I actually went to a Japanese school and I didn’t know the language for like a month or two and I caught on….. and then when I moved back to the United States. I didn’t know how to read English so I had to like relearn everything within the first five months that everyone learned in first and second grade.”

As teachers are making efforts to help the children, students also put in extra time. Hough said, “ My friends would go out and play and I would have to stay home and study extra”.

Other than hard work from both the teacher and student. Burns believes that a good way to help a student succeed is by creating a good class environment. “You really have to make them feel welcome and let them know that you understand….I think its important that the teacher is creating a team environment so that nobody’s making fun everyone’s willing to help that sort of thing.”