The Gilbert school district for the first time has set up a summer school program specifically aimed at teaching students who speak English as a second language.
During the regular school year, these students attend classes alongside Englishspeaking students in the Gilbert Unified School District. The summer school program allows the ESL students to be grouped together.
"It gives us a real chance to focus on each individual student," said Debbie Caves, who teaches fourth- through sixthgrade summer classes for ESL students at Harris Elementary School.
By providing additional teachers in a class, the students get more attention and teachers can pinpoint areas where students are lacking, Caves said. The new program also allows teachers to learn techniques of educating students whose understanding of the language may falter in courses such as social studies and literature.
Adam Perea, who assisted in Caves’ class and will student teach at Carol Rae Ranch Elementary School in the fall, said he has seen nonnative speaking students fall behind in larger classrooms where not as much is expected of them. The summer classes help.
"They get really excited when they’re challenged," he said. "And when someone’s having trouble, the others back them up."
Ana Blanco, 8, said the summer class helped her catch up on learning division.
A native of Colombia, she said the classes give her more time to study English, while in her free time, she can study to keep her Spanish-speaking skills. "I don’t want to forget, or my parents won’t understand me," she said.
The summer program also included a class earlier this summer that helped high school students study useful terms to use in getting summer jobs, said Beth King, coordinator of ESL programs for the district.