There are more languages than just English and French being spoken in Regina classrooms these days.
With more than 850 students enrolled in the Regina Public School board’s English as an Additional Language (EAL) program from 76 different countries, the board says altogether, students speak 61 languages other than English.
Though EAL teachers rotate through the schools to help the kids in their classrooms, sometimes there’s a bit of help in the classroom already.
Selma Elshakan Kiri is in a Grade 3/4 class at Marion McVeety school. She’s a smiling little girl, wearing a cream-coloured hijab, and is quick to help her classmates.
There are several newcomers in the class, and Elshakan Kiri helps to translate for some of them.
She came to Canada two years ago with her family from Egypt. She said when she arrived she didn’t speak much English, but she learned.
Elshakan Kiri likes having kids from so many other countries in her class, and likes that she can speak to some of them in her native language.
“We talk about, like, fun stuff that we could do.”
She likes it in Canada because it’s safe and she likes school, though there is one things she doesn’t like: “the weather is so cold”.
Jocelyn Gerspacher teaches the class. She said she loves having children from so many different countries.
“It is amazing to see how fast they grow. The children are so kind to each other, and because they’re used to being new themselves, they’re very quick to welcome all the other children.”
Gerspacher said the EAL children and children from Regina interact very well together.
“Because there’s so many other children from other countries that don’t speak English, they’re used to talking together.”
She said it can be difficult to have so many children in class who don’t speak English, but over the years she developed hand gestures and picture cues that help them communicate.