Homeschool challenges for students who speak English as a second language

Coronavirus

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — Transitioning from the classroom to the home has its challenges but for families where English is not their first language homeschooling can be tough.

In the Fayetteville school district, there are more than 56 languages represented. ESL Co-Director Christen Graham said they work with all families to make sure they have the support needed for their kids to succeed.

Irene Velasquez-Romo is Mexican American and she learned English at school through English as a second language program also called ESL.

“In my household, we speak Spanish that’s it, we don’t really practice English that much,” said Velasquez-Romo who graduated from the program last year but with in-person classes suspended she is having a tough time staying on track.

“I translate the homework Spanish so my mom can get an idea, my mom tells me in Spanish what she thinks about it and then I get it in my head in English.” 

Graham said this is a common problem for some families in the community. “We are constantly changing what messages we are needing to send out to families, imagine that not only communicated in English but also translated, and communicated rapidly in other languages.” 

Graham said they are actively communicating in more than 10 languages within the district. “We are doing a lot of calling families including making sure we have an English speaking staff member an interpreter and a family member all on the phone trying to communicate all of this information.

Several school districts have provided those families with additional support so students don’t fall behind. 

“The district has provided videos in English, and Spanish and I think there is an additional one in Marshallese that has a step by step instructions of the AMI packets,” said Bayyari Elementary school Principal Mary Mullican.

As for Velasquez-Romo, she said she is ready for in-person classes to be back in session.

“I can’t wait to go back if Fayetteville schools open again I will be the first one there.”

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