So. Colonie holds multi-cultural picnic for ESL students

Algebra. English literature. Physics.

School can be difficult no matter who your child is, but for a student who does not understand the language in which these courses are being taught, graduating high school may seem like a near-impossible feat.

For K - 12 students who attend school in the South Colonie Central School District, and for whom English isn't their primary language, the English as a Second Language program prepares them for education and life in an English-speaking world.

Thursday, June 5, the ESL group celebrated the end of the school year with a picnic in which child-recipients were given awards based on their rate of achievement over the course of the year. Over 60 English-language students and 13 different languages were represented. One of those students was Kay Zhang.

According to Nora Callender, supervisor of ESL, Zhang is in kindergarten at Forest Park Elementary School. Zhang's mother, Wen Tang, said that her daughter has known English for only three or four months. Zhang was awarded Thursday for her improvement in writing skills, said Callender.

Tang said that over the past few months, she has noticed her daughter's improvement at home.

When she gets home, I check her books, she has homework too, she said. Tang also said that sometimes Zhang will watch television and that helps her learn English.

"I help her with basic words, like apple and cat," said Tang.

While students like Zhang are eager to learn the language of the country they just moved to, Callender said it's a requirement.

"Any English-language learner who's newly arrived in our country has to receive ESL support throughout the day in all of our subject areas," said Callender, "Our goal is to see them increase in their skills so that their growth and their rate of development can increase over the course of the given year."

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