Achievement House BLOG

Pennsylvania has over 45,000 English Language Learners (ELLs) speaking in 229 different languages in our schools. The PA Department of Education mandates ELL programs in every school, but many times these students still struggle to graduate on time with a full understanding of the English language. 

For Class of 2016 graduate, Victoria (Michelle) Garcia, her Ecuadorian heritage was not the only hurdle she has had to overcome in the public school system in Pennsylvania. Achievement House’s ELL program allowed Michelle to flourish in her classes. She was able to focus on school in both languages, with the help of the bilingual mentoring provided by the ELL program at Achievement House.

“With my ELL classes, I was learning more than just how to speak the language, I was also learning the different ways people speak.” said Michelle, describing how she came to understand some of the nuances in accents, dialects and regional differences in the English language. “I learned the language in a more conversational way, instead of just memorizing vocabulary words.” 

How does AHCCS help ELL Students? 

Aides like Brenda Russel-Diaz work with bilingual students and students who struggle with English every day. Her role as one of the school’s two ESL aides is to work directly with students to improve their comprehension and understanding of the English language. Unlike a traditional classroom, students she works with are not confined by grade level or subject matter. 

Oftentimes Ms. Diaz finds herself with a group of students who vary in age and in their comprehension level of English. As a cyber-school, teachers have access to myriad software programs that are designed specifically for the ELL student. Cyber schools also give students the opportunity to remove themselves from a difficult environment which may be contributing to their struggle withEnglish.  In the cyber model, Ms. Diaz is able to not only help her students learn and grow their English studies, but works with them to use their common bond of a Hispanic background to better understand their core subjects. 

“At a place like Achievement House, students have an extensive network of resources and support (well past the school day hours) and they are fully accountable for their work.” said Diaz. 

“Students learn to use technology constantly and develop their communication skills, because it is their life line. For ELL students who want to experience a different learning environment a cyber school great opportunity to grow.”