The Multilingual Program (MLP) is a small learning community at Berkeley High School (BHS). This program provides courses to students whose first language is not English. MLP is made up of students from the following countries: Algeria, Cambodia, Colombia, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Yemen.
One of the main goals of MLP is to help students learn English so that they can communicate with others and be successful in their classes. In the program there are five levels of English classes, and students are placed into their level according to their scores on the English Language Proficiency Assessments of California (ELPAC). Students must complete this test when they enter the district. Each year students have to take the test, and if they improve their English, they are promoted to the next level. Once students complete level five, English Language Development (ELD), they attend mainstream classes with other BHS students.
There are a number of differences between mainstream English classes and ELD classes, one of which being the number of class periods. ELD classes meet for two periods every day, while mainstream English classes meet for one period. Additionally, ELD classes are usually smaller and more intimate. Students in ELD practice speaking and understanding English, and they also learn vocabulary, reading, and writing skills.
The pandemic has affected everyone, but especially schools. Students need to learn, but cannot go to school because of safety concerns, so everything was moved online. During distance learning, MLP teachers have been working really hard to help all their students. All the teachers delivered the supplies that the students needed to their houses. They have been supporting all the families that needed help too.
The counselor of this program is Teri Goodman, who helps students choose their classes. Cynthia Garcia is the parent liaison, filling in for Patricia Stewart, and she helps teachers connect with students’ parents. They also provide resources to students and help them to get scholarships for future colleges. Additionally, they help students fill out their applications for the summer classes.
The lead teacher of MLP is Daniella Maaze. She supports all the students, but she works very hard to help the new students. She leads meetings for the families of MLP students and organizes the ELPAC test. Maaze helps students deal with conflicts in school and challenges in their lives. She has been working really hard during distance learning.
The best part of this program is that all the students are bilingual or multilingual. They come from different countries with different cultures and religions. Teachers and students get to learn about each other’s cultures and religions. Everyone shares their culture’s food with each other while helping each other learn English. I have a friend who is from an island called Haiti. She speaks French, Creole, English, and a little bit of Spanish. Her culture is really different from mine. They have a festival called Carnival, and they have really beautiful cultural dresses. They love to dance and sing. All the people of Haiti are welcoming, even when they do not know you. I really learned a lot about her culture.
As one of the students of MLP, I can say that this program is best for the students who are learning English. All the teachers are kind-hearted. When I first came to BHS, it was really hard for me to learn because I did not understand what the teacher was teaching. Maaze helped me a lot. She always supported me. She helped me get good grades in my classes. Anna Maine, another teacher in MLP, also encouraged me and helped to improve my English.
Finally, I think other BHS students should know that the MLP community is welcoming. All the BHS students are always welcomed to be a part of the MLP activities.