As students of different ethnicities and backgrounds enter UAHS, some face the challenge of learning English

By, Ayah Elsheikh ’20 and Josie Stewart, ’21

Entering high school as a freshman opens up students to a completely new atmosphere, set of classes and challenges. Students learn to adapt to the new school over time, but for those who are adjusting to the language as well, these obstacles can be more difficult to overcome.

Incoming international students at UAHS are offered the English Language Learners (ELL) class. The course aims to ease students into the new language and academic environment.

Easing into Changes

The small room in the LC1 acts as a safe space for these students to take on high school together. This year more than 10 new ELL students began this process over the last few weeks.

The ELL class is led by teacher Andrew Hoobler who works with kids in grades 6 through 12. In the classroom, Hoobler facilitates activities by promoting collaboration and offers guidance to his students.

“Kids are able to interact with their peers in the class,”  Hoobler said. “They’re able to spend some time developing

relationships that will hopefully go beyond school, as well as interact with their peers in their first language to have

a little break.”

Outside of the ELL classroom, some students have learned the ways of the school, while others have had a more difficult time adjusting.

ELL students work with their peers during class to improve their English skills.

Sophomore Ibrahim Mustafa from Syria is entering his second year in the program. Mustafa said his experience at UAHS has been very positive.

“All the students are very nice,” Mustafa said.

International students also take classes outside of ELL, and Hoobler said he has seen these students be accepted within the school.

“I’m seeing a great movement of inclusion for all these kids with all different activities in and outside of the classroom,” Hoobler said.

Looking forward

Freshman Maria Abud, a new ELL student this year, described the people from her native country, Brazil, as “very kind.” She hopes students here will interact with her more and engage in activities outside of school.

“Everyone [in UA] is really different,” Abud said. “I think other students could make [my experience here at UAHS] a bit better.”

The ELL students of UAHS continue to adjust and develop their language skills. Others can support them by continuing to help these students with homework or greeting them with a friendly smile.

“I’m really enjoying school,” Abud said. “I thought it would be harder, but I’m finding that I’m getting along.”