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Ascension parish school district offers free english classes to spanish speaking parents

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Ascension Parish- Class is in session but not just for high school students. Parents like Mari Rosario are learning how to speak English.

“I want to speak with my children,” said Rosario. 

Mari is a mother to two children who speak English. She says it can be frustrating not being able to communicate with them on a regular basis.

“Her children tell her they want her to learn English, so that they can play with her, and speak to her, and help them with their homework,” said a translator of Rosario.

The program is designed to eliminate a language barrier between those who can and cannot speak English.

“They can come here in a very safe environment and to learn functional English, and just learn how to communicate on a daily basis,” said East Ascension High School Principal Tracie McCorkle.

McCorkle began the program to accommodate the large Spanish speaking population in Ascension Parish.

“I can't imagine what it feels like, to have a child in a school system with whom I can't communicate,” said McCorkle.

The student population for non-English speakers is roughly 500.

“Each year our student population is growing, which means that our parent population is also growing,” said Latatia Jackson, a supervisor of the program.

And over the past three years, attendance for the program was between 15 to 20 people each week. That number has doubled since.

“We have about forty parents per week,” said Jackson.

Funding the program comes at a cost of four thousand dollars. The cost go towards classroom supplies and teacher salary. McCorkle says every penny is worth it.

“So that's why we are trying this outreach program, so that they will feel more comfortable coming here and discussing concerns that they have with their child".

And Rosario agrees with McCorkle.

“Because I live in the United States, and it's very, very important,” said Rosario.

With the help of the program she says it's crucial that she learns as much as possible.

“It's a second language and I like to speak two languages."

Adult ESL classes will take place every Thursday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the East Ascension High cafetorium.

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