ESL classes for parents translates into stronger success for students

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It’s a weekday at Julius Dorsey Elementary School, and Elia Lopez, the mom of a Dallas ISD student, is doing some learning of her own.

Lopez is one of 18 parents of students at Dorsey Elementary who is attending English as Second Language classes (ESL) held at the campus every Tuesday and Thursday.

“With what I’ve been learning in class, I am now able to better help my children with their homework,” Lopez said.

In a partnership with Dallas County Community College District’s Eastfield College, the free program helps parents to acquire the language skills that will help them communicate better, leading them to better job opportunities and a higher engagement in their child’s education.

“My homework as their instructor is to remind myself of each of the parents’ reason to learn English, and find a way of helping them to learn the language in a simple but interactive way,” said Amber Herndon, a faculty member at Eastfield College.

Herndon also encourages parents to engage in technology by frequently communicating with them, in English, via text.

“A lot of the parents are visual learners, so I make it a point to provide them with hands-on digital opportunities to learn English, such as listening to electronic audio files or learning to search for educational videos in YouTube,” said Herndon.

The school decided to implement this program at the campus to help parents better relate to their children and their education, and also to encourage them to build their self esteem by improving their education.

“We are a family here at Dorsey, and we want parents to know that we are not just here to serve their children, but also them,” said counselor Cathy Gonzalez.” “We tell parents that there is no age limit to learn and remind them that as their children’s first teacher, they will make a greater impact on them by being able to communicate and understand them better. We are grateful for the support from Eastfield in providing the resources to help us empower Dorsey parents.”

The classes are held during the school day as a way of easing the child care burden on parents. While students are learning their numbers, letters, and other things in class, their parents are, too.

“My children find it a bit funny when I’m doing ABCs homework with them, but they help me and tell me they are happy that I’m coming to school with them, too,” said parent Veronica Aguirre.

The ESL program will end in February. Parents will have a total of 60 hours of college credit, making them eligible to then pursue a GED diploma.

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