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



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."(Kilman, 2009)

This is a typical situation for ENL/ESL students without much support from their teachers.

  • Let's think
   If you were in the same situation as Bessie, how do you feel? 
   Do you think the situation would be different if the teacher's attitude for her was different?

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


Many ESL/ENL students feel lonely when they cannot participate in class activities. Some teachers think that there is no other way for those kids who don’t speak any English but sitting at the back of their classroom and do some different activities by her/himself.

Please click to learn more about Bessie Alexopolous as Lonely Language Learners.


Do those ESL/ENL students want to be separated from others in their classroom because of their poor English ability? You will have more details about those misconceptions in Lesson 3: Do you know any misconceptions of ENL/ESL Students?


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