Students Learning English Challenge Themselves to Get to College

November 24, 2016
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By Seth Daniel

For many students who have arrived in Revere from other countries over the last couple of years, the brainpower is there, but the language skills often hold them back.

And for many of those students, who might otherwise be headed to college, there just isn’t enough time to catch up through the normal routes to get the education they know will help them achieve the life they hoped for when leaving their native countries.

That’s where a new program at Revere High  School (RHS) for English Language Learners (ELL) has come into play. ELL Teacher Asha Chana last year felt that many of her ELL students were very bright, but just didn’t have the time or resources to be able to prepare for Advanced Placement (AP) classes and tests.

Now, this year, Chana is piloting a class of 14 ELL students who are in an intense English curriculum to prepare them for taking the AP English test in May.

“Many of them have arrived recently and there just isn’t the time for them to move from ELL to general education and to honors,” she said. “It takes too long. Even if it’s very difficult for them, I wanted to have the opportunity to try. This is the first year I have proposed the class and for ELL students to take the AP test. I’ve been working with 14 students this year and they’ve already surpassed their goals for the year in writing. That makes me excited because hopefully these students who are typically excluded from AP tests will be able to take it. I don’t know if they’ll pass it, but they will have access to it and will have a chance.”

Revere Schools have a high level of ELL students typically, with about 1,600 in the district this year. However, that represents quite an influx, which has shown up mostly at the high school. There are 270 ELL students at RHS, and 150 of them came in this year.

Some of them, Chana said, have been high-achievers in their countries, but don’t have the language skills upon arrival to transition to a college readiness curriculum. Most of the students taking AP classes are in the honors program, or at least in the general education program. Students in the ELL, especially those who have just arrived, never get to the point where they can take such classes before graduating.

Both Gabriel Ramirez and Samael Arias were two of the 14 picked for the new class. Both had full-time jobs prior to taking the class, and said they consulted with their families in order to be able to quit those jobs and devote the necessary time to pursuing a college-type class.

“It’s a really difficult class, but I like the class,” said Ramirez, a junior who just came to Revere from Brazil two years ago – though he was born in the United States. “It’s not like a usual class that we would take. You really have to push yourself. Even on the weekend, you don’t have any time. However, you feel really good when you reach your goals and you complete the challenges.”

Arias came to America two years from El Salvador, and he said he hopes to go into criminal justice or architecture and get a college degree.

“I’m taking this for my fu

Cutline –

Students in ELL Teacher Asha Chana’s Advanced ESL Seminar class will be the first group of students as English Language Learners at Revere High to take a college preparatory test this spring. Students in ELL who come to the country at high school age have typically not been able to take such tests or prepare for them. Chana hopes that might change for the high-achieving students in the program. Pictured here are (front) Juliana Londono, Josely Jimenez Villar, Veronica Zapata, Samara Pineda, Teacher Asha Chana, Yosselin Penate and Rupesh Danuwar. (Back) Diana Restrepo, Mary Lopera, Gabriel Ramirez, Nain Lainez and Samael Arias. Not pictured in the class are Wendy Dominguez, Fatima El Alaoui and Keryam Nascimento.

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