Language Learners

Many students at South speak languages other than English at home


Mia Hadziselimovic

ESOL teacher Jillian Baldwin Kim works with junior Nazry Paredes.

Imagine trying to learn when English is not your primary language. Well, here at Parkway South, there are many students trying to learn their academics, while also becoming more familiar with the English language. 

ESOL (English as a Second or Other Language) is a class some students have blocked into these students’ schedules, for as long as they need. These students primarily speak a language other than English at home. 

ESOL teacher Jillian Baldwin Kim discusses the structure of reading and writing that is harder for students. 

“We do RACE writing. Most students can speak English but it’s just the reading and writing,” said Baldwin Kim. 

A RACE paragraph is a Parkway way to restate, answer, cite, and explain a paragraph about a topic written in each core subject. The details going into these RACE paragraphs are hard for those with English as their second language, composting all their ideas into a language that is unfamiliar to them. 

This program also helps with tests and understanding questions. 

“We help with tests and understanding questions,”  Baldwin Kim said

Baldwin Kim said she has been teaching and helping ESOL students for around five years alongside Cynthia Adams.

I have been working with ELs for 8 years in Parkway. Mrs. Kim has been working with ELs in Parkway for 5 years. We have worked together at SHS since September of 2020,”  said Adams, also an ESOL teacher. 

Kim and Adams said they both serve a main role to help students guide their academic language.

“Our main role for students is as their guide in academic language acquisition and social-cultural learning. However, what Mrs. Kim and I really do on a daily basis is far beyond just high school education,” said Adams.

There are 70 students in the ESOL program at South High. Baldwin Kim said these students come from countries like Mexico, Honduras, Yemen, Syria, Brazil, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Junior Wala Al-Ashmali was born in Yemen and speaks Arabic at home. She took Baldwin Kim’s ESOL class her freshman year. She said the class helped her better understand her tests and essays. 

“I took ESOL my freshman year. ELs helped me because I have trouble finishing essays and tests,” Al-Ashmali said.

Al’Asmali now helps others at South. 

“I love the school and I am an A+ tutor for ESOL,” Al-Ashmali said.

Freshman Luqman Bashir was born in St. Louis, but his parents speak only Somali and Arabic. He started Baldwin Kim’s ESOL class this year. Bashir explains the different tools that the class has helped him with.

“ESOL has helped me write and speak. It really helped me with writing a lot and answering questions. Mrs. Kim has helped me a lot with other classes too like math,” he said. 

Adams describes the best thing about ESOL.

“The beauty of working with students of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Each of them is unique in his/her own way of English learning progress and discovering their cultural and social identities,” said Adams.