Hero photograph
Photo by Kelly McNicholl


Desire Truter —

Learning English is challenging at the best of times: more so for ELL (English Language Learners) from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

This year, the ESOL department included students with a range of ethnicities: Afghani; Bangladeshi; Brazilian; Cambodian; Chilean; Chinese; Fijian; Filipino; Indian; Kampuchean; Malaysian; Nepalese; Pasifika; Samoan; Saudi Arabian; South African; Timor-Leste; Tongan; Uruguayan; Vietnamese. This colourful conglomeration of characters ensured that our ESOL classes were diverse, distinctive, and delightful.

Typically, classes would include a range of speaking, listening, reading and writing activities, with students developing their proficiency in these areas throughout the year. This was accomplished through regular engagement in group and individual reading and writing exercises; board games; research; online tasks; and the periodic assessment of skills to gauge their progress as EL students endeavoured to hone their language skills. 

The focus at Hornby High School this year has been on The Joy of Reading and students were encouraged to track their reading progress by way of digital reading platforms like ReadTheory and ReadWorks, evaluating and reflecting on their reading prowess at every stage. Students were also invited to participate in a voluntary Reading Challenge, in which they tracked their independent reading over time, aiming to complete fifty hours of reading this year. The reading challenge proved successful with those who participated, and students won small prizes for their efforts. We hope to expand the scope of the challenge next year. The Joy of Reading was also demonstrated with a massive cluster-wide Read-a-thon at The Hub in Hornby, involving students from our Uru Mānuka cluster schools as well as our own Hornby High School students. In addition, students and teachers recorded themselves reading aloud for the Uru Manuka Reading website. Do check out the site for lots of photos of Hornby High School students enjoying reading in various forms. During Book Week, ESOL students really showed their joy of reading with a range of activities like creating book covers, and posters, while the teachers had a book character dress-up.

Mrs Marijo Flores continues to be an invaluable stalwart proponent of linguistic and cultural development for ELL, with a particular focus on the support for, and integration of, the Filipino families into our school whānau. To this end, we were able to enjoy a modified version of the traditional Salu Salo this year, despite the restrictions imposed by Covid-19. The usual festivities and food were enjoyed by all at a day-time celebration on a somewhat smaller scale than usual, but we hope to have a bigger and better event again next year. The FYG (Filipino Youth Group) assisted in the activities of the Cultural Evening in Term 3 as well as being invited to perform at a variety of events in and around the community during the year. Other cultural activities centred around the various language weeks, with the Tongan, Samoan, and Indian, students show-casing their cultures with food, music, and traditional costumes, during those designated language weeks.

One very exciting innovation this year has been the addition to the Hornby High School site of a new feature: Our Identity, the brainchild of Headgirl, Nidhi (Year 13) . This site encourages ESOL and immigrant students and staff to share their identity and culture with the Hornby High School whānau. It is a work in progress, but the stories shared on this site serve to help break down barriers and unify our diverse community. We look forward to reading your story here soon!

All in all, despite all the health, social, and other challenges, 2022 has been a positive year for ESOL at Hornby High School. Maligayang Pasko; Manuia le Kirisimasi; Kilisimasi Fiefia; Marau na Kerisimasi; Meri Kirihimete: Merry Christmas to you all.