Teachers from the Berkeley County School District in South Carolina are working to help their students’ parents learn English.
Teachers from Berkeley High – Carmen Francis, Ronda Concannon, and Rachel Goude – have launched a new digital English class to teach parents English and help them become more involved in their children’s education.
In a press release, Berkeley County School District explained that Francis is an English to Speakers of Other Languages teacher at Berkeley High but started as a Spanish teacher five years ago. During her time at the school, she’s seen how Hispanic students struggle in school, and said she noticed a lot of them had parents who were afraid to come to school to talk about their children’s academic performance because of the language barrier. One of the things parents would ask Francis is, “Where can I learn English?”
Concanon and Goude are English teachers who have a background in helping students who are struggling readers. As with Francis, Concanon and Goude need to communicate with the families of their students and said they are also frequently bumping into that language barrier.
The teachers have been working on their new digital English learning program for more than a year and want to bring it to not only Hispanic parents in the district, but all parents who want to learn English. The teachers noted that the program is completely online, self-paced, and completely free for any school district parent.
As for its structure, the online class is set up in modules, so parents can jump in anytime. In addition to teaching parents English, the school district added that the program also helps parents improve their computer skills.
Francis and Goude worked on the class syllabus and lesson plans while Concannon created the educational activities and games found in the modules.
“We each kind of have our own little role and we hope to expand upon that and be able to do more,” Concannon said. “We have to start small – we don’t want to bite off more than we can chew.”
Francis added that they plan to keep the experience virtual because of the parents’ work schedules.
“These parents work really hard,” Francis said.
While it is self-paced, the school district said the teachers will go “live” twice a week to allow participants in the class to interact with them and practice the English they have learned.
“They’re very basic to start off – like basic building of vocabulary, not even really sentence structure at the beginning,” Goude said.
Looking towards the future, the teachers want to incorporate more advanced-level lessons that will help parents be able to do things like fill out a resume and a job application, and prepare for a job interview, but that is an eventuality that will take some time to create.
“Our goal with students is to help learn real-world applications – why can’t we do that for the parents?” Concannon said.