Fairfield Schools have taught students from every country in the world. This program allows them to say ‘thanks’ in English

Fairfield High School senior Daesung Seo credits his smooth transition since moving to the United States one year ago to the school’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program. MICHAEL D. CLARK/STAFF

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Fairfield High School senior Daesung Seo credits his smooth transition since moving to the United States one year ago to the school’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program. MICHAEL D. CLARK/STAFF

Fairfield Schools’ English program for foreign-born students is growing, and so is the appreciation for the program by those whose new lives in America have benefitted.

Daesung Seo, a native of South Korea, has lived in this country for one year.

The Fairfield High School senior said he can’t express how much he is grateful for the school’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program, but because of the highly focused and accelerated program he is getting closer to finding the right words.

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“This class helps me and helps others,” Seo said of his classmates whom have moved to Fairfield from around the world.

“They make it (America) feel like home and more comfortable. I like American culture. Everyone is so kind to me,” said Seo, who excels in his school work and also plays on the school’s volleyball team.

He plans to attend college and major in industrial design.

Seo is part of a growing trend of in the Butler County school system.

ESL teacher Sonia Aguila has seen the ESL numbers rise after starting the program at Fairfield Schools in 2005.

A native of Cuba, Aguila can both relate and motivate newly immigrated students.

“These classes are not only important to learn the language but also to learn the culture and school aspects they are unfamiliar with when they come here,” she said.

“We help them through that transition,” she said.

Since 2005, Fairfield has become the new home of students from every country in the world except for Australia. She jokes it may be the natives there like the weather too much to come to America.

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Laurie Gage, ESL coordinator for the 10,000-student Fairfield Schools, said the courses give students a chance to learn and practice English.

This school year there are 877 students who qualify for ESL services, said Gage. They come from 40 different countries with 60 percent of students’ native language being geographical variations of Spanish.

In the 2011-2012 school there were 460 students, she said.

The ESL program is a bridge for these students, said Gage.

“They are so thankful for the teachers here,” she said.

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