An ELL Student’s Experience with Classroom Audio
Classroom Audio Systems have obvious benefits for students with a hearing impairment, but there are benefits for many other student groups as well. From students with ADHD to specific learning disabilities, from English language learners to typical students, classroom audio promotes learning for all students, in every classroom.
We recently talked with Jimy Erekson, one of our sales representatives, about his experience growing up as an ELL student. He offers valuable insights and a unique perspective into the experience and challenges present when a student is learning a second language and new content at the same time.
An Active ELL Student
Jimy Erekson was an active student. He was adopted when he was five and spoke only Spanish. When he began attending an English-speaking school, Jimy didn’t understand what was being said. He found it easy to get distracted and focus on other things that he could understand. Jimy’s teachers worked with him as well as they could, but it was hard to keep a student engaged with a language he didn’t understand.
Jimy sometimes had an interpreter that would help him in class, giving Jimy an opportunity to learn the content in his native language. This helped, but sometimes even the interpreter couldn’t hear and understand what the teacher was saying. When the teacher spoke quickly, was far away, or was facing the board, Jimy’s interpreter did their best to quickly figure out what the teacher said, translate it, and move on before missing anything else. The challenge was considerable.
Learning to speak, write, and understand a second language created an extra challenge for Jimy. He couldn’t only focus on the content but had to give extra attention to learning the words as well. He remembers watching friends excel and learn quickly. He felt the disadvantage he was fighting through and could see himself falling behind his friends’ learning. He had to work harder to catch up. It was hard to feel like he couldn’t keep up with the other students in his classes.
The year things started to change
School continued to be a struggle and discouraging until Jimy’s fourth grade year when Jimy’s teacher wore a microphone. Suddenly, he was able to hear clearly. He could tell the difference between words like “tree” and “three” that had previously sounded the same. He could hear what his teacher said, even when their back was turned so they could write on the board. Jimy’s interpreter was able to decipher what the teacher was saying and confidently interpret for Jimy.
Jimy’s ability to take the English he heard and connect it to the Spanish he confidently spoke grew that year. He began to build confidence as a student and feel he could overcome the disadvantage he’d experienced. This was the year he started picking up more content and became more engaged and less distracted at school.
An unexpected bonus came during the story times that Jimy’s fourth grade teacher enjoyed holding. During story time, students had the opportunity to use a handheld microphone to read aloud. Jimy previously avoided speaking in front of the class because he felt self-conscious about his broken English. When he heard other students working hard to decipher and decode the words, he realized he wasn’t the only one who didn’t have a perfect knowledge. He learned it was okay to make a mistake with a word and be corrected. This helped Jimy have courage to speak more English, and when he spoke more, his learning accelerated.
When Jimy grew up and started his own family, he took a job selling Classroom Audio Systems for Audio Enhancement because he knew for himself the difference it could make for students. He had experienced the enhanced learning environment an audio system can create, and he wanted to help other students receive the same benefits he found when he was in school.
Jimy enjoys working in areas that have a significant number of English language learners. His background offers a unique perspective that can help school leaders understand what their ELL students are experiencing. Jimy is able to advocate for these students and help school districts understand the long-term benefits and growth ELL students gain when given the opportunity to hear clearly what their teacher is saying, year after year.