Kids from around the world find community, learn English through poetry

Under the bright lights of the auditorium of John Muir Middle School, dozens of students are on stage rehearsing for a big poetry performance.

Standing in a row with her classmates, Jwail Alnamh, a Syrian immigrant, recites her line: “I remember home when my country was all good and my grandma could take me everywhere.”

“I dream about seeing my friends once again and jumping rope and laughing,” said Fima Kaoumi, who is also from Syria.

These students are 48 of the students enrolled in English Language Development classes at the Burbank middle school. Like many recent immigrants, they’re slowly mastering a language they didn’t grow up speaking. To help them cope — linguistically and emotionally — teachers have designed a unit that uses poetry and performance to help English learners improve their language skills.


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