A copy printer whirred as it printed out the day’s activities at La Mesa Elementary School.

On June 25, the 10 a.m. bell rang as a pre-service teacher gathered her supplies to meet students enrolled in her English as a second language (ESL) course.

For six weeks through the summer, students from the University of New Mexico engage in teaching sessions as pre-service teachers to complete a Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) endorsement.



ESL students come from all around the world and range from pre-kindergarten to adults — some students are refugees from Syria and Afghanistan.

When ESL students finish class at 12 p.m., the pre-service teachers become the students for an hour, learning different teaching strategies.

“One of (the strategies) that we learned about was called ‘think, draw, label, write,’” said Megan Dominguez, a UNM graduate student majoring in elementary education.

She said the exercise requires kids to reflect on their personal life and draw their experiences, adding that personal connection helps reinforce new languages, especially when writing.

Class sizes can vary, but there is always more than one teacher in the room, rotating to students sitting in groups of three or more at tables.

Technology is integrated in the classroom as teachers use iPads and projectors to facilitate their lesson plans. Bright colors catch their students attention as they gather around the teacher, reading a story aloud from a tablet.

Traditional tools like Lincoln Logs make an appearance in the classroom as students create their own world among the clacks and laughs of their peers.

Adelaida Jaramillo is a senior undergraduate student at UNM majoring in elementary education.

Jaramillo said she likes the program and what she is doing.

“The kids are really great...I feel like it’s a lot of work, but we are learning things that I’m going to need when I graduate and start working for (districts) like APS or Rio Rancho,” she said.

Jaramillo said the work is preparing her for working with kids who may not know English in the future.

English is not the only thing learned in the classrooms this summer.

Teachers have taken steps to introduce Science Technology Engineering Art and Math (STEAM) curriculum in their lesson plans.

Gage Chavez-Cowles is a UNM graduate student majoring in secondary education. This summer he’s teaching high school aged students. He said science based curriculum helps reinforce language learning.

“We were able to bring in stuff, like these solar ovens, to get (students) working together and collaborating and it’s really opening up a discussion instead of lecture,” he said, adding that it’s more collaborative.

Not all lessons were academic, some were about everyday life.

An adult class learned how to order food online and by 11:30 a.m. hot and fresh pizzas were delivered to one of the elementary school’s portables.

Gulziwar Hessaini is a refugee from Afghanistan. She has been living in the United States for almost almost three years.

She arrived in the U.S. with her three children and husband. She said she likes the ESL program.

Compared to America, she said, there are not many English classes that she can understand in Afghanistan and it is difficult to learn from a book.

Hessaini said she came to America with a slight understanding of English, but she wants to improve it through this program.

Anthony Jackson is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @TonyAnjackson.