Growing number of students face the challenge of a new language

student ESOL FWB

Kellen Francis an English Language Learner teacher at Fort Walton Beach High School, helps Bilol Ibrohimov of Uzbekistan with a comic strip lesson.

NICK TOMECEK | Northwest Florida Daily News
Published: Monday, November 12, 2012 at 12:07 PM.

FORT WALTON BEACH  — On any given day, more than 700 students in Okaloosa County schools might not understand what they hear.

Some struggle to translate every word. Others miss only a word here and there. All of them are part of a growing population of English Language Learners (ELL) in the district.

In the last year alone, the number of students whose native language is not English enrolled in Okaloosa schools has increased by about 65.

While the number might not sound like a lot, combine it with the 36 languages they speak and the limited resources for educators, and the district faces a daunting task.

Learning the language

When Bilol Ibrohimov moved to the United States with his family in 2010 from Uzbekistan, he was fluent in Uzbek and Russian, but not English.

“I didn’t understand nothing,” the 15-year-old Fort Walton Beach High School student said. “It was, ‘Hi, how are you?’ That’s it.”

In the two years since, Bilol has reached the point that he understands his teachers and classmates most of the time. He’s given up carrying a translation dictionary and even helps newer students learn the language.



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