• Portland ESL Network

ESL students presented their cultures and more

Updated: Dec 13, 2018

Clark College’s Washougal ESL class hosted their International Fair during the Halloween Bash Carnival on October 30th, 2018 at Hathaway Elementary School. In the gym, children and parents in Halloween costumes enjoyed face-painting, many games and popcorn.

In the library alongside of the Bookfair, ESL adult students from several countries such as Syria, Iraq, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Ukraine, Vietnam and Mexico represented their everyday ethnic clothing, food and games. For example, currency was matched with countries’ names, several flags also needed to be matched with countries, on the huge wall a giant world map visitors chose a random country and tried to locate on the map. At the Mexican tables, wearing their colorful dresses, students introduced their traditional “El Dia de muerte“ altar. They showed a drawing in Spanish and English, so visitors tried to learn some Spanish words. At the Syrian table, students displayed some food from their country, and explained what they are, how to eat them and how to prepare them. At the Thai table, a student encouraged visitors to try on various traditional Thai clothing, so that they could see and feel the experience of a different culture. She also presented pictures of Thai food and famous places. Visitors received ‘Passports’ to have stamped at each table after participating in the games or conversations. When completed, prizes were given to each person or family.

For this fair, ESL students prepared in their classes for two full weeks. We decorated with pictures, prepared foods, practiced games, made an altar, flags, and learned the currency and maps. In the follow up discussion, the students said, “It was fun to show people our culture and talk about it.”, “I realized I can talk with American people in English.” ,”I am glad children were interested in our culture and enjoyed the games”. Yes, it was an opportunity for our local neighbors to learn about other cultures and to have a world vision.

This event was planned by our ESL teacher Heidi Dryden, along with a family resource coordinator at Hathaway, Nancy Boon. Heidi intended to give her students a great chance to practice their English with native English speakers out of the class through participating in this event. Up until then, Heidi encouraged her students be involved in local community activities as volunteers, such as the Clothing Closet – at Hathaway, by community donated clothing is provided for free to those who need. In June, she and her students volunteered at a local resource fair open house in Hamllik Park. There the ESL students set up a Mobile Clothing Closet space and chatted with visitors.

These activities for ESL students out of their classroom have many benefits. Not only is there a chance of practical conversation, but also feeling like members of connecting with their new community. Through these activities they earn confidence of communication in their second, sometimes third language, and at the same time becoming more comfortable as members in the community.

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