ESL students brace for the challenges of remote learning

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- The challenges of remote learning can be worrisome for teachers and families ahead of the new school year.

These challenges are even more daunting for students who speak English as a second language, considering that every minute spent away from the classroom is a minute lost from their much-needed language immersion.

"At home, it's harder because our teachers cannot help us and at school, they can help at any time," said Adrian Tejeda, a student in Paterson, New Jersey.

Tejeda, a 7th grader at Paterson Public School 8, is one of the 94,413 English language learners in New Jersey, adjusting to this new style of learning.

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"We are not automatically prepared, like teachers, to teach our children. Sometimes you know something one way and teachers can explain it another way," said Wendy Tejeda, Adrian's mother.

For Wilson Soto, who teaches third and fourth grade Language Arts at Paterson Public School 16, communication with parents has proven to be a key component to assist students with their assignments and academics during the pandemic.

"My fourth graders were pretty comfortable with google classroom because they were familiar with it. My third graders were not at ease and a lot of the children did not know what to do, so I had a lot of conversations after school with parents so they understood what was going on and the best way we can help the students," Soto said.

Related: District gives every student Chromebook to make remote learning easier

Despite the uncertainty of remote learning and its impact on English language learners, the Paterson School District, known for having three statewide model schools for their English as second language instruction, has worked to ensure their students receive the technological resources and support to ensure they receive the quality education they deserve despite the circumstances.

"Just because they're coming to this country with a different language doesn't mean that they're challenged, it just means they learn differently. They are still our kids and we have to do what we have to do, to educate them to our best of our abilities," said Sham Bacchus, Principal of Paterson Pubic School 8.

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