MACON, Ga. —

This report has been contributed by Rylee Kirk, a student from Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.

Ellie Farriba is an ESOL, or English to speakers of other languages, teacher at Howard High School. 

There, she teaches English to students who have a different mother tongue.

“You know it’s always a good day to come to Howard High and teach ESOL,” Farriba said. 

Throughout the day, Farriba assists her students in two ways. 

“I do either a scheduled class where I teach a sheltered ninth, tenth, eleventh, grade lit class for just the ESOL kids or I’ll have them in my classroom maybe four, five, six at a time for an ESOL one or two class, which is the beginners,” she said.

Even when the students aren’t in Farriba’s class, she still provides help and support.

“The other parts of the day I’ll push in to a classroom, like for instance this year [in] first period I go to foundations of algebra with about six kids in the algebra class and I give them support in there. Then I go to economics with my seniors cause it’s a big milestone class,” Farriba said.

To ensure the students are receiving the proper help every year, they take a proficiency test called the Access 2.0, Farriba said. 

“We test their English proficiency in English listening, speaking, reading, and writing. If they score a 4.5 or above out of six, they are eligible to exit the program,” Farriba said. 

Usually one or two students exit the ESOL program annually at Howard High School. Once the students finish the program, they are monitored for four years. 

Andreisha Santana is from the Dominican Republic and has been in the Howard High School ESOL program for two and a half years. Her native language is Spanish. 

Santana said learning English is difficult, but something she has to do.

“We have to learn it because we want a better future,” she said. 

For Santana, ESOL has been very helpful. 

“It’s just helping us a little more, like when I first came here I didn’t know anything about English and now I can speak it,” Santana said with a smile.

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