English Learners in the classroom

Kristel Solano (’23) describes her process of learning English and her gradual realization of her own superpower. “…we English learners are strong and smart. We are capable of learning a new language in a short period of time while also getting used to a new culture and a new environment.”

As an English learner, I always thought of my lack of English as a weakness, being in a class where I was not able to understand everything at 100% and also not being able to participate at all for fear of mispronouncing something or not wanting to say things that didn’t make sense to everyone else. This matter made me anxious, I remember as it was yesterday my struggles in history class at the middle school, my anxiety got so bad because I didn’t want to fail in my education but my lack of English meant getting bad grades on most of my assignments. All these experiences made me believe for a really long time that not knowing English at all and being in the process of learning it was a disadvantage. 

After 6 years of attending school in the United States and 3 years of being able to speak English in a somewhat fluent way, I can confidently tell you that I regret thinking like that for all those years, now I know that being able to learn another language is like a superpower. 

We English learners are amazing because we are not only struggling to not forget our first language but also learning a new one from scratch, going to English class and learning how to improve our English when we don’t even have the basics of it yet and get through the pressure of pronouncing something wrong and being looked at in a funny way because of the lack of understanding of others, someone may say “because of your accent I couldn’t understand”, and others may say “I don’t really get what you are trying to say”. We go through all this on a daily basis and the fact that we can make it through makes us amazing. 

Being an English learner in an American classroom is hard, high schools are very competitive when it comes to academics, colleges, GPA, grades, SATs, and more, and for an English learner, it can be very discouraging. 

But we English learners are strong and smart, we are capable of learning a new language in a short period of time while also getting used to a new culture and a new environment. It might be hard at the beginning but it’s not impossible and is worth trying because we can do it, and we would do it.