Undocumented Student Learning English at Locke High School, by Karla Bañuelos

Karla Bañuelos

Ms. Stone, M. Ed

English 12

10 June 2011

Undocumented Student Learning English at Locke High School

            Trying to hide, wanted to disappear, and wanted to cry, that is what you feel when you hear people laughing at you because you do not know how to pronounce a word. You feel your blood coming up to your head, you feel embarrassed but it is inevitable because ESL students are learning how to speak English. ESL students came to the United States because they wanted a better future, and others did not have the right to choose if they wanted to come or not. ESL students have two obstacles that lack their future: the lack of knowledge of the new language and their immigration status. At the beginning they feel like hey can not do anything and that learning the new language is going to be hard.

            Most of the ESL students at Locke High School are focus on their future and their goal is to become the best English speakers.  But one of the problems at Locke is that native English Speakers discriminate ESL students. This is one of the biggest problems because when somebody starts laughing at you, we have two choices of we study more to learn or we give up and drop out of school. In my four year High School career at least 40 ESL students drop out of school because they were not able to learn English. This became a problem because ESL student came to the United States to accomplish their dreams and they let their dreams go and they start working.

      According to the website wiki answer “students are expected to learn and speak English, they may refuse or be reluctant to speak it for one or more reasons: lack of knowledge of the language, maybe they have never heard it spoken, fear of embarrassment or ridicule if they get it wrong”. Some students at Locke has share that as an ESL student it became hard to go a regular English class. Most of the times they do not participated in class and they do not talk to anybody because they do not want to be embarrassed. According to Mayra Hernandez an student at Locke High School “ I have eight year living in the United States, but my English is not that good because  one time I tried to read something and people started laughing at me, I though ‘why should I learn English if people are going to be laughing at me’, so I stop and at one point I did not care about learning English”.   In the 2003-2004 school years, there were 3.8 million students studying English as a second language (ESL) in the U.S. This is according to the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics. This number represents 11% of all students for the year. Among all U.S. states, California had the most number of ESL students with 1.6 million. This information remarks how many students are learning English and I as an ESL Student I know that they had struggle with the language.

      It was the year 2009; I was a sophomore at Locke High School. I was in my History class, Mr. Cardenas was our teacher, and it was a wonderful class because it was funny, interesting and easy. In the class were eight ESL students and the rest of the class were African American students. We the ESL students were always speaking English and when it was necessary we try our best to speak English. One day my friend Valeska asked something to Mr. Cardenas in Spanish and he answered back, an African American Student got mad and he said that we should not be speaking Spanish because we were in the United States. I got mad and Valeska was embarrassed, I decided to try my best speaking English and I told him “you know what we can speak English or Spanish if we want, that is not your problem”, Mr. Cardenas ask him to step out  side and they had a long conversation. I told to the guy that if we could speak English as he does, we would not be speaking Spanish, I told him that a lot of us would want to be him because not knowing English was embarrassing. After that all of the African American students wanted to learn Spanish. When we said something in Spanish they asked what we said and they learned a new word each day. At some point it was fun but we did not learn at all how to speak English.

      ESL students have many obstacles to overcome, and there is going to be more if they decide not to learn English. This obstacle becomes more impossible to move if they do not do anything about it. ESL students want to learn English but they do not want to be embarrassed if they do not know how to pronounce a word or if they do not understand a question. They want to learn but it is not easy and no body told them that it was about to be hard. ESL students should work harder to learn faster and evade those uncomfortable laughing. This year I meet some of the new ESL students and they are always speaking Spanish, as I did. I told them my story and why they should try to speak English more often. One day the blood of my body came up my face, the embarrassment and the feeling of disappear past trough my head but now after four years I can say that I did it even though it was hard.


?'si?8? smile and waited for his response. With a shock look he questioned “Did you say may I?” “Not, let me get . . . Or gimmie dat?” and in second I paused; puzzled and un comprehensive to what he was referring to. Now, as I’m older and more aware, I am well competent of what he was trying to say.


Now, in my head, I mutter, was I not “ghetto” enough for him? Was it just too astounding to him that I didn’t speak improper English or slang? African Americans have come a long way, and to see us get stuck in the illusion of being “ghetto” is an outrage. Some blacks do have etiquette or “class”. Not every black person has been to jail or have a career in being a felonious. Although, we are realized to be all of these things we are so much more. We are inventors, doctors, lawyers and even comedians, as well as so much more. Our color doesn’t determine our actions, individuals and self-pride do. Those that are rude, unknowing, and ill-mannered choose to be. And other entities, like me, choose to be and do something in life. I PLAN to be an outcast; I WILL eliminate myself from these stereotypes; I REFUSE to be a part of this picture the media constantly paints for blacks. Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes, “Knowledge comes by eyes always open and working hands; and there is no knowledge that is not power.”  And I WILL have the strength of knowledge.





Work Cited

Seward, S.2009.http://www.helium.com/items/1329732-mass-media-and-african-american-stereotypes?page=4