Roundtables let students adjust to culture and language of U.S.


Staff Photo by Ryan Conway

(From left) Sarah Chodorcoff, Evie Minnella and Lauren Hain, participants in the ELL tables, discuss different topics with English language learners.

New conversation tables held by Spanish teacher Kelly Brophy and English teacher Lina Adinyayev aim to help ELL (English Language Learner) students become included in the school community and learn about American culture. 

A new program that started this year, ELL Roundtables, is meant to be a safe space for non-native English speakers to become more comfortable in the school setting. It was made to create conversations and allow these students to learn more about lives in America. 

These meetings take place during lunch on C days in Room 803 with Brophy and on D days in Room 708 with Adinyayev. The two supervise these meetings to make sure that everyone feels comfotable and to create conversation. So far, three ELL students have attended and much of the conversations are spoken in Spanish.

This program was created to give ELL students a secure environment to discuss their feelings about West Essex and communicate with other students. It is meant for them to find someone that they relate to and foster friendships. 

“The ELL Roundtables were created to give the ELL students an opportunity to become more part of the school community and to be able to communicate with students in an informal setting as opposed to the classroom,” Brophy said. “So, I hope that they’re able to practice their English in a non threatening, informal way, and feel like they meet more students that they maybe wouldn’t have normally met.”

During these meetings, student volunteers start conversations by talking about news or traditions that they carry on in the United States. This allows for the ELL students to ask questions about it and therefore  learn more about American and West Essex traditions.

“I hope to celebrate and embrace diversity here at West Essex through this program,” Adinyayev said. “I also hope that students who are not ELLs partake in this journey and join in on socializing with their peers as well as establishing a welcoming environment for all.”

Even though these tables were made to benefit ELL students, they are also helping the student volunteers who are advancing their social skills and knowledge from participating. Student volunteers are able to meet new people who have different backgrounds than they do. 

“I think that the ELL meeting is beneficial because it helps students learning English and students like me who are trying to learn a foreign language like Spanish,” student volunteer junior Evie Minnella said. “I usually participate in conversation, and ask questions to get to know other students who are trying to learn to become better english speakers.”

Benefiting everyone involved, the ELL tables are continuing to grow throughout West Essex, Brophy said. At each meeting, there is a growth in attendance, and more people are enjoying the experience while encouraging personal growth  and student relations.