Lesson 2: How important for ENL/ESL Students to have someone who understands them?

Revision as of 14:01, 8 May 2019 by Akitsu Koyama (talk | contribs) (Case Study)


The participants will be able to define the importance of the support from educators and parents/guardians for ENL/ESL students.

Case Study

When Bessie Alexopolous and her parents moved from Greece to the United States, she didn't know a word of English. As the only Greek-speaking student in her class, Alexopolous was all but ignored by her teachers. Her fellow students followed suit. "I was silent for a long time," she says. "I was afraid to raise my hand. They always labeled me as shy, but the truth was I felt odd and different. And I didn't want to tell anyone that I spoke a different language at home."

This is a typical situation for ENL/ESL students who first came to the U.S.A.

  • Let's think
   If you were in the same situation as Maria, how do you feel? 
   What kind of challenges will you face?

You will define your answer to this question in "Reflection" below this page after reviewing "Introduction" and "Investigation".


As not so many teachers have the experience of living in abroad nor being in the community with the second language, it is not so easy for teachers to understand the problems and difficult situations of ESL/ENL students. ESL/ENL students struggle academically and societally for a variety of reasons and this frustration can lead to a lack of motivation.

These are some of the typical challenges that young ESL/ENL students in the U.S.A.

  • Language Difficulty

ESL/ENL students face many difficulties because of their language limitations. Those challenges in their classroom vary from subjects to subject. Please click to know some specific difficulties in different subjects. http://www.everythingesl.net/inservices/challenges_ells_content_area_l_65322.php

  • Culture Shock

ESL/ENL students who came to the US for the first time experience an entirely new way of life. Many of them find it difficult to understand and adjust to the culture of new countries. Let’s click to find the different factors that can contribute to culture shock. https://www.valpo.edu/international/living-in-the-u-s/u-s-culture/american-culture-culture-shock/

  • Overwhelming workload

Many ESL/ENL students have to work twice as hard in school to keep up with their peers. In addition to learning a native student are learning, they also have to learn a whole other language. In many cases, ESL/ENL students still need to work on their own language development if they come to the US in the early stage.

  • Lack of sense of belonging and self-esteem

When the language barrier prevents ESL/ENL students from participating, their self-esteem suffers.

  • Changing Social Status and Family Situation
  • Lack of sympathy and understanding

Lack of metacognition and logical thinking of young students make these problems more difficult to cooperate.

Therefore, it is important for ESL/ENL students to have someone who understands their problems and feeling to encourage their motivations during their difficult situation. We will have more detail about this in Lesson 2: How important for ENL/ESL Students to have someone who understands them?.


Now it is time for you to think about it…. If you were in Japan as a new English teacher and no one around you would understand your native language.

Can you come up with any struggles that you will face?

  • Let’s click to watch 4 minutes video with a teacher who had been in this situation.



Thank you for your participation in Lesson 1! Here are some questions for you to self-assess your understanding.

  • If you were in the same situation as Maria in “Case Study” above, can you explain three major concerns that you would face?
  • Can you be as efficient as you were in the new community and environment?
  • Do you feel safer and more comfortable to stay alone because of your poor language skills?


Go on to Lesson 3: Do you know any misconceptions of ENL/ESL Students?

Return to Encouraging Young ESL Students in the USA