47 Languages Spoken at Local Elementary School

47 Languages Spoken at Local Elementary School

Save Story
Leer en espaƱol

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Tonya Papanikolas ReportingTeaching is a hard enough job on its own without adding in extra complications. At Woodrow Wilson Elementary, the teachers have to work extra hard to get through to the students. It's not because the kids there don't want to learn, it's because the kids come from 26 countries and speak 47 different languages.

Misty Butterfield's fourth grade class is a very diverse group of kids.

Misty Butterfield, 4th Grade Teacher, Woodrow Wilson Elementary: "We have kids from all over the world."

When asked who speaks a foreign language at home, 15 out of 25 kids rose their hands. Nine kids speak Spanish, one girl speaks Navajo and a boy speaks Sudanese. Another speaks Vai; and, in case you're wondering, Vai is a language spoken in Liberia.

Misty Butterfield: "I usually have six or seven languages in my classroom."

Unfortunately, English isn't always one of them. Many of the kids enter school with no English knowledge at all.

Yanelin Rodriguez, 4th Grader from Cuba: "I didn't know nothing. I was scared and I didn't have any friends."

That makes listening to the teacher hard.

Thip Ngor, 4th Grader from Sudan: "I didn't understand what she was saying because I didn't speak any English."

Misty Butterfield: "Oftentimes they'll just take my hand and take me over and show me what they're trying to tell me."

The school helps the students speed up the process by enrolling the kids in an English as a second language class.

Ethel Shield, Woodroow Wilson Secretary: "We have two classes. The children are pulled into those two classes on a daily basis."

As the kids are immersed with other students, they learn fast.

Thip Ngor: "My friends taught me how to speak, and my teacher."

Yanelin Rodriguez, 4th Grader from Cuba: "When she said that I was learning English, she started to give me homework."

With these kids being from so many different countries, they're not only learning a lot academically, they're also learning a lot of new social behavior.

Misty Butterfield: "Even simple things like going down to the restroom because toilets are different, the food line is different, and it's just a whole different culture for them."

Some kids have never picked up a pencil or seen a computer. But while the students are learning about a new culture, so is the staff.

The school also has another big challenge -- 97-percent of the kids don't finish the school year. Often their families move to another district or even back to their own country. Because of that, the school says it's very important to teach the kids as much as they can while they're there.

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics



Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the KSL.com Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast