With students coming to OHS speaking Russian, Lithuanian, Spanish, Tagalog, Hindi, Bengali, and even different dialects of Chinese, there comes a need for a common meeting ground. This meeting ground is the language of English. With so many different languages and a variety of cultures arriving at OHS, it becomes necessary for these international students to learn the common language spoken throughout the school. This all becomes possible in the classrooms of ENL.
What is ENL? ENL is a course taught at the high school, standing for “English as a New Language”. Originally this class was known as ESL, or “English as a Second Language”. It was necessary to change the name of the course because it became understood that English, a lot of the times, wasn’t a second language for these students. Often, it is their third or fourth language they would learn.
The skills learned in class are reading, writing as well as listening and speaking skills. The skills are the same as any other English class but with an emphasis on learning English as a language that they can more effectively communicate with. They read and study both literature and articles but focus on not just the content, but the grammar and vocabulary. The focus of class is relative to their needs and more efficient in helping them adapt to a new language.
What students learn in ENL can be applied to life inside and outside the classroom. Through the ENL program these students gain the ability to understand and apply English in other classes. From science to history they are able to comprehend and do the work, using their newly learned skills. The language learned in school can also be applied to the real world. When coming to a new country it’s important to be able to communicate with the people around you and know the prominent language.
There are two ENL teachers in the building, one of the teachers of this program, Ms.Boyle, expressed that possibly the greatest challenge for the students in this program is navigating daily life inside and outside of school, in an environment where their first language is not widely spoken. Ms. Herman noted “In addition to academics, students need to acclimate to a new culture.” The true importance of this course is to break down the language barrier between these students and the community.
ENL has been a great benefit to students at Oceanside High School. A student Maite said “The most important part of this class has been learning english language arts skills with the best teacher.”