ESL contains a diverse group of students


Classmates A.J Sarmiento and Viktoria-Marie Petri study together

Brianna Cummings, Staff Writer

Want to meet an athlete who is a master at sign language? Look no further. SHS junior, Saint Syr Melendez Just, fits this description. The native of Puerto Rico actually has teaching experience.

ai???I tutored kids in Puerto Rico in sign language,ai??? said Melendez.

Melendez is one of thirty students in Mrs. Jacki Van Gordenai??i??s English as a Second Language or ESL class. Ai??Through this program, students from other countries have a regular education curriculum and take ESL courses to help them learn the English language better.

ai???We practice reading, writing, listening, and speaking while concentrating on grammar,ai??? said Van Gorden about her programai??i??s curriculum.

Van Gorden enjoys working with these students and says they appreciate what the American school system has to offer.

ai???They are very respectful,ai??? said Van Gorden. ai???Their parents respect teachers. We should learn from them. It’s a two-way street.”

Despite the obstacles one may face when moving to a foreign country, many of the students in Van Gordenai??i??s class have adjusted well to American culture. Sophomore Viktoria-Maria Petri, from Greece, has been in the program for two and a half years and says her transition was a breeze.

ai???It was easy because my mom and her family are American,ai??? said Petri. ai???I understand when people talk to me in English, but I have trouble

Senior A.J. Sarmiento moved to Stroudsburg from Venezuela last year. He described his transition as ai???crazyai??? and ai???shockingai???.

ai???Everything is different,ai??? said Sarmiento. ai???The education here is better. In Venezuela, we did not really use technology because it is not available for schools [to use]. It is not a wealthy Ai??

Through ESL, these students have been able to improve their English and their social skills. They have also gained experience with using technology to further their education.

According to Van Gorden, when people do not know much about ESL students, they make inaccurate assumptions about them. Van Gorden is quick to clarify the misconceptions.

ai???ESL learners can be brilliant, but people have a perception that they are not intelligent because they do not know English well,ai??? she said.

ai???In reality, they work twice as hard as the average student. It is disturbing when people hear other people speak another language in public and they say, ai???Why canai??i??t they speak English?ai??i?? If you lived in France, you would not speak French when you were with your family; you would speak

Van Gorden has taught students from over 100 different countries, including China, Peru, and Greece. When she is not teaching at Stroudsburg High School, she is an adjunct professor at Northampton Community College, where she teaches adult ESL classes. Because she has so many pupils, Van Gorden must use social media to keep in contact with her students after they graduate. This way, she gets to be apart of their lives, even after they have grown up.

ai???I see them married with children and going to college,ai??? said Van Gorden. ai???I have one student who obtained her masterai??i??s degree in ESL, which has been one of my proudest