Two languages and an (almost) new country


Photo by Ruby Lueras

David PaBello is enrolled in ELL classes to help with his mastery of English. The class provides a lot more than just learning however. “You meet a lot of different people from other countries,” Pabello said. “It’s sort of like a small family”

Ruby Lueras, Staff Writer

After seven years away from home, David PaBello has been juggling two languages and life in Lake Zurich.

David PaBello, senior, has grown up speaking two languages: Spanish and English. Although he was born in the US, he spent most of his adolescence living in Mexico, where the sole language he spoke was Spanish.

“I was actually born in Barrington but when I was little my mom took me to Mexico and I spent about seven years there with my grandmother and grandfather, on my mom’s side,” PaBello said. “I grew up with them, and I learned the Spanish language with them.”

Returning to a country that you haven’t seen in a long time can be daunting, but it’s easier with support, according to PaBello. When PaBello came back from Mexico his age placed him in the fourth grade, but since he didn’t speak English, he was held back a grade in order to receive extra help.

“The experience was very supportive overall. I was just like any other student and [my teachers] were just trying to help me with anything that I needed help with. And because nobody spoke any Spanish in the classroom, and every teacher spoke English at that time, the way that I learned the language was a little different,” Pabello said. “It was mainly by playing music and listening to the ABCs on a DVD, and my teacher would just go along with it. She would be like, ‘David, talk to me’ and she would talk to me, in almost sign language, and that’s how I basically started learning the language.”

The experience from when he was younger, according to PaBello. In middle school, he was introduced to ELL classes or English Language Learner classes that assist students in learning the English language. He continues those classes in high school, although the structure of the classes has been morphed to fit his needs.

“My teacher from middle school wanted me to stay a little longer [in the ELL program] so that I could have a little more support throughout my four years of high school,” PaBello said. “Now that I’m a senior in [the program], I only have my research class, which is basically where I just have my teacher as a resource to help if I have any problems with my homework.”

Michelle Warnimont, ELL teacher, has had PaBello in her class for all four years of high school. She has seen him exit the English portion of the ELL program freshman year; to now being in the research portion.

“He’s one of my favorite students. […] He’s always asking questions, not only about the homework but just really insightful questions about the world,” Warnimont said. “He’s very funny, very charismatic, and always helping other students.”

Melisa Mendez, freshman and cousin of PaBello, is in the same ELL classes and says that she’s seen her cousin grow because of them.

“Because of the classes, I’ve seen him become more on top of things and he’s now getting his work done on time,” Mendez said. “They’ve helped him become a better a student overall.”

The ELL classes has taught PaBello a lot more than just English he said. It has taught him about different people’s values and how to truly communicate with other people and connect.

“You meet a lot of different people from other countries, which gives you more knowledge on other people and their cultures,” PaBello said. “You talk to them and communicate with them a lot, and it’s sort of like a really small family.”

Warnimont agrees and says that culture plays a big part in the classes.

“We like to talk about where they’re from and their experiences from a variety of different countries. David, for example, has experience with Mexico, but there’s other students that have experiences with India or Poland or Thailand,” Warnimont said. “Everyone gets to talk about their experiences and how they may be similar or how they may be different.”

Forming connections has always been apart of PaBellos journey. Whether it be with students or with the teachers he has met along the way. He still remembers the teachers who taught him and helped him grow when he was younger.

“Throughout my three years of middle school, I had an ELL teacher that I still remember and I still see her when we go to conferences that they hold at the high school sometimes for people that are in the ELL program,” PaBello said. “I also have seen my teacher from elementary school there. About three years ago, she was there giving food at the library and I talked with her and it was great because she was there for me when I didn’t know any English at all.”