Virtual learning is beginning early for English language learners (ELL) of all grade levels throughout the Huntsville City Schools District, as online summer programs take the place of in-person instruction due to coronavirus.
“This is a very different experience than we’ve attempted in the past. Usually, we will host a face-to-face secondary reading camp. We’ve done things with early childhood and parent literacy—always face-to-face with parents, hands-on and we bring in speakers and so forth,” said Ann Marie Batista, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Coordinator for Huntsville City Schools.
Batista says the Huntsville City Schools ESOL program adapted to teaching ELL students virtually by offering all registered students in the district a summer reading bag of materials, which includes a Tales2Go audiobook subscription and the option to enroll for virtual meetings with an ESL teacher.
The program has three main focuses targeting students of different ages and English levels, according to Batista.
For ESOL teachers of elementary students like Megan Brandon, she says her focus is on building literacy skills. She hosts virtual meetings with students and their parents for follow-up discussions of text and vocabulary instruction.
“I think we’re all learning. Every time we have a meeting or we have an activity, there’s something we need to practice,” Brandon said. “Our families are very happy to have something in the summer to practice with their children.”
ESL teacher Mary Martinez says she works with students grades 6-12 who possess very basic levels of English. Her students use Rosetta Stone, which she says works well because it allows students to continue English learning from anywhere.
“We have some students who went to Puerto Rico for the summer and their parents here are very happy that when they are there, they can practice English on their phone,” Martinez said.
Batista, Brandon and Martinez all agree that these virtual summer classes are both an important way for ELL students to practice English, as well as to prepare both teachers and students for changes to the upcoming school year due to coronavirus.
“Our teachers are really digging into the technology of providing support and lessons through technology now. In a way, we’re getting ready for the school year,” Batista said.
If you have a student enrolled in the Huntsville City Schools ESOL program and still want to pick up or receive summer reading books, fill out this form.