January 2003
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ESL - English as a Second Language
By Remzi Cej, Holy Heart High, St. John's, NL

A remark that one of my friends made last week made me decide to write on this topic, since she said that not many students know what goes on in the room 202, which is my school's ESL classroom, and how some students at our school don't even know what ESL means. Well, here I am, and I will try to make you as familiar as I can with what the advantages are in terms of having an ESL class in your school.

In case you happen to be one of the people who don't really know what ESL means, ESL stands for ‘English as a Second Language' course, taken by students who are new to the school and the country. Depending on the level of English spoken and written, students are placed in different levels of ESL courses. Not to be too technical, I shall go to the better aspect of being an ESL student at Heart.

Well, it all incorporates into a single word which I'm sure you are all familiar with, as it is Canada body and soul: multiculturalism. Having been an ESL student the first year I entered Heart, I can honestly say ESL was my home at school. The best thing was sharing experiences of coming to Canada, funny things that happened when we heard Newfoundland accent for the first time, and our progress in getting to know new friends who were from here. So, it's really been a shelter for me, the first couple of months of being at Heart, and I hope I'm right in saying that most, if not all of the ESL students feel that way.

Then, there came different initiatives we started, such as dances from our cultures, poster boards with information about our homelands to tell our school friends about the cultures that we come from and different other things. The best thing in being in the ESL class is that I never felt shy to talk to new friends who were new to the class. I could imagine what they were going through, and this inspired me to, in a way, befriend them. Today, I can't spend a day without dropping by that room. Its wall with welcome to the ESL class written in different languages, including mine, creates nostalgia of my first days at Heart, when, still traumatized by things I went through, I was happy to see a welcome in my language.

Every time I see it, I picture my happily surprised face. The help that students of the ESL class offer to each other is exceptional, and this, believe me, is unbiased. Every time someone has a problem with a word they can't understand from their math homework, or their history assignment, there's always someone to offer their help and assist when they can. Ms. Martha Trahey is the ESL teacher at Heart. Dealing with 40 students is not easy, but she manages to help every single one of them, just like she helped me. She is considered more than a teacher to the students. She's very generous in offering her help to all of the ESL students whenever they have questions after school, personal issues, or a project they might have (she's my informal career moderator).

Ms. Trahey is also in the process of raising funds for an ESL scholarship, which will be given to the ESL students with outstanding academic achievement and in pursuit of a post-secondary education.

I hope I've given you enough information to make you familiar with ESL. The next time you visit a school or the ESL classroom in your school, remember how valuable that place is for a new student.

Tung! (Albanian for Hello and Cheers)


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