English language learning program at FHS

FHS’ English Language Development program serves a wide variety of students, with the motto “The point of ELD is to exit ELD.” The department’s purpose is to provide support to students for whom English is not their first language. 

A majority of the ELD 1 classes at FHS are Spanish-speaking students. However, this is not the case for Kumail Masoomi, a sophomore at FHS, who originates from Afghanistan. Masoomi speaks Farsi and is learning Spanish and English.

Having to adjust to a new culture in the span of a few months while dealing with emotions towards the past would be difficult for anybody. Especially considering that Masoomi is taking steps toward becoming trilingual. When learning that many languages, it becomes difficult to distinguish which words are used in which language. 

“In the U.S., it is certainly very difficult,” Masoomi said. “Afghanistan [teaching] and U.S. [teaching] is very, very different. First of all, [it] is good. It is treated very differently. And teachers [are] good. I like all of my teachers” 

Masoomi has enjoyed his time in ELD and his experience so far in the U.S. In his free time, he loves going to Starbucks and getting Mango Dragon Fruit. Additionally, Masoomi enjoys sad movies and music and loves to read the Quran. Nevertheless, he misses home.

“I want to live in my country,” Masoomi said. “And I want to [be] with my brother and my grandma but there’s a problem and I [have] come here. So I will [see] in maybe three or two months[… ]I really want to go.”

Aisha Lomando, ELD 3 and Freshmen literature teacher, recalls her experience teaching ELD and the trials and tribulations that come with it. 

“We have a lot of English learners on this campus and we want them to feel connected and included like they are a part of the school,” Lomando said. 

Lomando expresses the challenges that come with being a significant part of an ELD student’s life. 

“So, because we do have students with different educational backgrounds, and there is a wide range of skills, it is difficult for just me as one teacher to meet the needs of all the students,” Lomando said. 

She started teaching ELD in 2013, reflecting upon how she struggled at first to acclimate herself to the differences in teaching a language class. 

“I had not taught it before, and it was a big struggle to learn how to teach language, because I am a literature teacher by training and experience,” Lomando said. “Adjusting to teaching the language was a big change, and it was challenging. I learned and, I hope I became a better teacher as a result. Knowing how to break down material better for students also helped me in how I teach my mainstream students. It’s still challenging them, but providing the support that students need and then [removing] the support to make them more independent learners.”

She also believes that these challenges are the reason that makes ELD so enjoyable to teach.

“They’ve gone to school in different countries, so we get to learn about different educational systems in addition to their cultures and backgrounds, and then linguistic differences,” Lomando said. “My students are ELD three but depending on their background, their skills in English vary and so it’s fun [because] everybody [is] learning together,” Lomando said.

By teaching a language, Lomando has felt as if she has had more creative liberty in planning her classes and getting the material to students for them to adjust to English.

“That also gives me some freedom within how I teach the literacy and language skills they need there,” Lomando said. “They still have to learn English, right? But I have flexibility in the units I want to cover, like what I want to focus on for each unit. So, that’s also nice as a teacher to have more of that freedom.”

Ultimately, FHS’ ELD program consolidates non-Native English speakers from many backgrounds, helping them master the language that they will be instructed in at school and will use further on in their lives. The ELD program is a merging of students and faculty, providing support to many who have faced many obstacles when it comes to learning this language.