The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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April 21, 2024

Student by day, teacher by night: sophomore teaches English to immigrants

When the final bell rings on Friday afternoon, sophomore Conrad Mascarenhas isn’t done with school. Mascarenhas spends his Sundays in the classroom teaching English to immigrants at Our Lady of the Lourdes Church.

Mascarenhas teaches grammar and the conjugation of basic verbs in an elementary school classroom adjacent to the church. He is usually one of several teachers who switch off giving lessons, although he occasionally works on his own. The class centers around an English textbook, supplemented by lectures and worksheets.

Mascarenhas first taught as an assistant teacher in seventh grade and returned at the beginning of this year.  He is the youngest teacher in the free program, in which the average age for students is 30.

“The students know I’m young, and all the other teachers are adults, so they try to work with me,” Mascarenhas said.

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Program coordinator Robin Renden said that Mascarenhas’ age doesn’t affect his ability to teach.

“I think the people who are there really just want to learn, and they aren’t concerned with who is teaching them the grammar,” Renden said. “It’s all about what they walk away with at the end of the day.”

The class, which ranges from 15 to 20 students, includes speakers of all different levels and native languages, Mascarenhas said, so teaching the class can pose some challenges. The students are mostly Hispanic, but some are Middle Eastern or Indian.

“It’s somewhat difficult because everyone is at a different level,” Mascarenhas said. “I have to try and speak slowly, but I think it really helps them, being constantly immersed in English.”

Mascarenhas typically gives lessons to the class as a whole, but occasionally he has to give specific attention to students who are having trouble. In these instances, he has more responsibility in helping students along than he normally does in a classroom setting.

“There are two students who are struggling,” Mascarenhas said. “They are kind of falling behind, so next week I’ll take them one on two and try to work with them.”

Many concepts in the English language that we consider common sense are entirely new and complicated to some foreign speakers, Mascarenhas said. For example, he has to explain to students that, unlike in Spanish, the past tense in English includes everything from what happened a day ago to a year ago.

Through the class, Mascarenhas has been exposed to groups of people outside of the Bethesda bubble and is able to be part of a unique and diverse community.

“I was attracted to interacting with a new community I hadn’t met before,” Mascarenhas said. “It’s a good feeling when people come up to you and ask you questions.”

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    thegirlbehindthescreenOct 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    wow this is phenomenal, great story B and W .