Johnny asked Dotty how her first day in her Duarte ESL class was. It was terrible, she told him. She understood little of what the Level 4 teacher said. He spoke too fast for her. She had struggled through a Level 3 class at a Monrovia school.
When the teacher asked if there were any questions, she told him that she didn't understand most of what he had said. He told her not to worry; she could take the class again if she failed it the first time. She didn't want to fail it the first time, however, or any time.
He gave them homework the first day, of course. They were supposed to write a 300-word essay supporting gun control. Of course, Dotty said, she could write that essay in her native language. But there was no way she could write it in English. She showed Johnny the textbook. The print was so tiny that trying to read just a few pages gave her a headache. On top of that was all the new vocabulary on each page. "I'm going to drop the class," she said. She wanted to cry. When was she ever going to learn this language?