Concerns on ESL students getting behind due to COVID-19

Concerns on ESL students getting behind due to COVID-19

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - With students in Arkansas finishing the school year learning through Alternative Methods of Instruction, some students are at a disadvantage due to their English language skills.

Gina Gomez, executive director of El Centro Hispano in Jonesboro, said it is a big challenge due to students in the bilingual afterschool program are already behind in school due to the language barrier.

With the afterschool program being closed due to COVID-19, the staff at the center have not been able to work with the students on an individual basis.

As students complete their work, they sometimes need someone to explain the lectures.

However, Gomez said usually parents cannot do it.

These same families struggle because they do not have access to the internet, or they may not have a computer at their home.

Then for the families that have computers, Gomez said many times they do not know how to access the channels or how to do those specific activities that the children have to do.

But one way the organization is working to bridge the gap is by contacting each individual family and help to resolve any issue a particular child might have.

“We can continue to work with the kids through the internet, making sure if there are some children that we need to bring to the center in small groups or even provide individual tutoring with our staff, that is something that we will be willing to do,” Gomez said.

During the summer, Gomez said they would usually use those months to work with children improving their English skills. Now she said that will probably not happen.

“They will start next school year behind, not just on the regular class, but also with their English skills,” Gomez said.

The center is coming up with innovative ways to help those students.

“So we are looking into ways on how can we use technology in order, to provide some sessions for the children, even if it’s just ESL regular sessions for our children,” Gomez said.

She said while they have not talked to representatives with the different school districts in Jonesboro, that is their next step to see what ideas they have in order to help English as a Second Language students.

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