Hundreds of students who are English Language Learners are finding that summertime bilingual classes encourage cultural confidence and competence.
Peoria Public Schools is offering two ELL programs for various languages during the year. They offer bilingual classes and English as a Second Language Classes (ESL). Many have also enrolled in a Spanish summer school class offered through the ELL program, taught at Glen Oak Community Learning Center.
“Our job is to make sure (the students are) successful in an all-English classroom,” said Rebecca Lindholm, coordinator of the ELL program. “The hardest part of learning English is the vowel pronunciation, because there are so many different ways to say them in English, and in Spanish it never changes.”
According to Lindholm, there are over 40 languages spoken in Peoria Public Schools, but the most demand for ELL courses is in Spanish.
A typical day in the summer program consists of classes in music, art, and technology in the afternoon. They work during the morning on their English and Spanish language skills.
“Sometimes they don’t get what I’m saying in English, so we explain it in Spanish and then they know the English for it right away,” said Adelina Gutierrez, a first- and second-grade teacher for the program. ”(When they were) learning about Illinois, I said to them, ‘What’s the state capital?’ and they responded, ‘Oh, it’s a big letter.’”