New course assists non-native speakers

Veteran English teacher helps students hone their skills


Erin O'Neil

English teacher Ms. Dana Van Deuren instructs her ELL students. The class meets during E period in Room 2203.

Erin O'Neill, Reporter

“I love it, all of it,” English teacher Ms. Dana Van Deuren said of the new English Language Learner course.

Van Deuren helped to pioneer this class, which aims to work on four levels of the English language: speaking, listening, reading and writing for students who, via a home language survey that comes with registration, have been “flagged as English not being their first language,” the veteran teacher said.  

Van Deuren saw a need for a course such as ELL to be added to the curriculum. She said, “I created the program for Cathedral; my background is very strong in literacy and special education, and I’ve had some experience at other levels in this, but not at a high school level, so I just jumped in and I worked with this a little last year, but we didn’t have a course.”

Van Deuren described that one student, senior Kartik Bandal, served as the inspiration for the creation of this program. She said, “He’s the student that kind of prompted it because last year he was here as a junior, he came here straight from India, and we didn’t have a course, so I was just trying to help him (with English) little by little, here and there, whenever we had time.”

She added, “He said to me, ‘I wish I had more time to learn English because I want to go to college in the United States, and I’m concerned about how well I am going to do if I don’t understand English,’ and so then I thought if we have students here, and they’re in this position, and they’re going to college and they want to stay in the United States, we have to do more instead of them just trying to pick (English) up.”

Van Deuren said the class works on literacy skills, among other objectives. She said, “Right now we are working on the writing of English, but we have had assignments on pronunciation of words and listening to dictation and trying to interpret and understand (English).”

A unique aspect of the course is that students learn things that will help them thrive in other subjects. Van Deuren said, “We also work on content, so sometimes when they have a test coming up or a quiz in a class, they will bring the information with them, and I will work with them individually.”