Students excited about learning English in ESL class

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From AAPSNews Service

They are a group of students representing more than a dozen languages and cultures, all learning together in the same class.

Students in an Ann Arbor Public Schools ESL II class disuss a recent lesson in the English language.
Students in an Ann Arbor Public Schools ESL II class disuss a recent lesson in the English language.

It’s an English as a Second Language class in The Ann Arbor Public Schools, which teaches English to adult students who speak another language as their primary tongue.

On this day, teacher Odette Petrini was using symbols and visuals to teach a set of nine words or phrases to her students: Haul, boring, load, empty, save, long johns, take out, shrink and shut down. Then, she used them in a story to teach students how to best understand their meaning.

Petrini has an undergraduate degree in literature and a master’s degree in ESL. She has taught in the ESL program in Ann Arbor since the 1980s.

In this class, a number of countries were represented including Russia, Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam and Colombia.

“This morning I’m teaching you a story. I want you to think of a picture,” Petrini told students. “Close your eyes and do the word. I want you to feel the sentence with your body.”

There were smiles all around with this group of students who appeared engaged and eager to learn.

Yoonhee Lee is from Korea. She is taking her first ESL class and came to the United States eight months ago. She said she has enjoyed learning English and now considers herself among friends. She and two others from the class meet every Thursday at the library to continue speaking English and studying together, she said.

Aster Abraham, who hails from Eritrea, East Africa, is one of those friends. “We love each other,” she said of her classmates. She said the students especially appreciate Petrini and her approach. “She tries to understand us. She’s nice,” Abraham added.

Akemi Equchi came to the Ann Arbor area from Japan two years ago. She is taking her second ESL class and said she enjoys it.

Others are welcome to enroll in ESL classes in The Ann Arbor Public Schools. Winter semester starts Jan. 19. Students interested in taking classes can meet with staff Jan. 4-6 at Stone School, 2800 Stone School Road (at Packard) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 734-997-1250 for more information.

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