ESOL Students Face Numerous Challenges when Transitioning into MCPS

Moving to a new country is an ongoing challenge for immigrants. Foreign-born students face the difficult task of learning both a new language and curriculum when transitioning to MCPS.

To support these students, MCPS provides an ESOL program in every school and students are scheduled in every class based on their language proficiency.

“When we came to America in 2009, we had to leave everything and everyone we loved behind. Our whole life was packed in four suitcases. The first few months of school were really difficult,” former ESOL student Seyedeh Zahra Mousavi said.

“I couldn’t communicate with people because I couldn’t talk to them. MCPS had me take a test to see where I stood and put me in an ESOL class, which helped me learn English, the vocabulary and grammar,” Seyedeh added.

On top of having to learn a new language, ESOL students often immigrated just recently and must adjust to a different curriculum and a new schedule. The classes they took in their native country may affect their grade level in MCPS to compensate for the lost credits due to their recent transition.

Many ESOL at RHS students report facing a traumatic experience when leaving their country. Often, these children are forced to flee their country due to deteriorating social conditions or for economic opportunity in the US, and are separated from their parents for years.

“In most situations the parents left their children when they were very small and are only able to bring their children back to the United States only several years later,” said Rockville High School ESOL resource teacher Olga Ryzhikov. “Practically speaking, those children lived with their grandparents, uncles or some other member of their family and now they come and are reunited with their parents and do not know them.”

To accommodate this challenge, MCPS assigns a parent specialist to each school, along with also multilingual counseling and reunification services to ensure families are well adjusted to the change in their life.

Teresa Wright works for the ESOL parent outreach program for MCPS. “We work with the students and their families so the child can be successful at their schools despite having to learn English, and also to have the best possible transition to the county.” Wright said.


This article was originally published on by Lillian Andemicael, a staff writer for both the Rampage and the MocoStudent.