The Coast News Group
Escondido Adult School has launched a new student ambassador program for English language learners. Stock photo
Escondido Adult School has launched a new student ambassador program for English language learners. Stock photo

Student ambassadors boost confidence in fellow language learners

ESCONDIDO — The Escondido Adult School has launched a program in which former English as Second Language students return as student ambassadors to help new language learners adjust to the classroom.

Kicking off earlier this year, the student ambassador program has recruited eight individuals who have already experienced the class to help alongside the teachers who instruct the school’s nearly 400-student ESL program.

The ambassadors alone come from a variety of different backgrounds with at least four different languages – Spanish, Tagalog, Russian and Ukrainian – spoken amongst them besides what English they have learned.

The ambassador program is a result of a Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Student Focus Group last year, where students shared that they wanted to return to the classroom to support teachers and administration to help improve the program and better serve its students.

“I was listening to colleagues from San Jose talking about their ambassador program, and so we thought that it would be a good idea for our school,” said Polina Trask, an ESL teacher at the Escondido Adult School.

The school offers six different levels of its ESL program both in the morning and evenings. While students typically only meet in person once a week and work online the rest of the week, students and ambassadors have been on campus more frequently lately with the start of the program’s technology boot camp that teaches students who have little to no experience working on computers and online classes keep up with the coursework.

Student ambassadors also returned to help guide new students around campus during the first week back earlier in August.

The student ambassador program benefits everyone involved whether they’re teachers, ambassadors or new students.

Because the student ambassadors have already experienced the class, they provide guidance and comfort for new students by walking them through any questions they may have. At the same time, the ambassadors – who are still students – continue their education and encounter real-life challenges that require them to exercise what English and other skills they have already learned.

“I enjoy the fact they created this program for us because it gives us more knowledge about the program and because I get to help others, so they don’t have to go through the same struggles I did with not knowing where everything was,” said Elva Pettit, one of the student ambassadors.

Carlota Duong, another student ambassador and four-year student, was excited about the chance to get more involved in the school she loves when she was approached by her teacher about becoming an ambassador.

Duong said ambassadors meet new students at the same level to help them feel more confident in their studies. At the same time, she also gains improved self-confidence in her own skills.

“We’re still learning, and we never stop,” Duong said. “This makes me feel confident about what I have been learning.”

Marialice Porter, another ESL teacher, is grateful for the help she receives from the ambassadors.

“They ease our load,” she said. “I have two of these present student ambassadors in my ESL class and they’ve already adopted that leadership role by helping other students log into computers, translate for them – we’re just very fortunate to have them.”

Principal Stacey Adame said the student ambassadors are responsible for the school’s full classrooms and its smooth start to the new school year.

“Because you were there and so patient, everybody just felt calm and well taken care of on the first day,” she told the ambassadors. “These are the fullest our classes have ever been at the beginning of the year, and it’s because of you guys.”

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