DeSoto schools offer language class for non-English speaking students - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Chip Washington

DeSoto schools offer language class for non-English speaking students

DESOTO COUNTY, MS (WMC-TV) - Schools in DeSoto County are adding a new class to teach English as a second language to non-English speaking students. 

Since 2002, the number of non-English speakers in DeSoto County Schools has grown from 70 to more than 800. As a result, the district has launched a bold new program for its students

"The Sheltered English Immersion Program -- it is where we have 10 to 12 students who are on the lowest English proficiency levels in grades one through five.  They come to class and are immersed in the English language," DeSoto County Schools Secondary Education Director Lucy Hasselman said.

Dawn Davis teaches the class, which is a bit different.  She encourages her students to not be quiet.  Davis says communication and teamwork are highly encouraged.
"Essentially, I am teaching them to read, write and speak better English," Davis said. "We're using this as a tool to build better survival skills for school, as well as being in the community."

Davis has a working knowledge of Spanish, having taught ESL classes previously. Her class consists mostly of Hispanic students, but she also has 10-year old George Butunoi, who is from Romania. He has been in the country about nine months, and is enjoying the class.

"I like this class because we play games and we learn," Butunoi said.

Hasselman said as the county continues to expand, so will the program. Beginning next August, the English Language Learners program will be offered at schools in Olive Branch and Horn Lake.

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