Students help English learners to pass CAHSEE with tutoring


Photo by Adrianna Owens

Senior Salvador Pasillas volunteers his afternoon to help one of the tutees with questions in a booklet compiled of practice CAHSEE questions.

William Alexander

Rapid Spanish is spoken from a few tables away. The sight is of eight people, three of them seem to be helping the rest.
As you lean in for a closer look, you see practice CAHSEE tests.The five ,who are being tutored, are reading and writing with obvious enthusiasm.
The tutors seem to have a little trouble, pulling out phones to use Google Translate or asking their tutees how to say a word.
These three are tutoring the other five to pass the CAHSEE, a daunting exit exam that fails many students who don’t speak English primarily.
Seniors Teresa Zacarias, Anamaria Bautista, Salvador Pasillas and Dellanira Alcauter go every Monday and Wednesday from 2:30 to 3:30, to the Homework Center to help.
This tutoring has been going on for about 2 months .These tutors were recruited by biology teacher Marcus Sherman to give these students a fair chance to pass the CAHSEE, as many have already taken it once and failed.
Homar Juarez, who teaches U.S. History and English Language Development, believes that this is a good thing.
”I think this is awesome. We should be doing this for all languages,” said Juarez,”There is a kid that knows Mandarin and is helping students that also speak Mandarin but not English.” Sherman has been trying to get students who speak other languages to tutor those who only speak that language as well.
These four seniors are dedicated to their tutees.
They go over practice tests with them and try to help them with their reading and writing strategies.
The tutors mostly work on writing strategies because the majority of the tutees understand what they are reading,but they aren’t as adept in writing. They struggle with poems and figurative language.
Because the CAHSEE is only given in English, many students struggle. These students know not much english and struggle to grasp the nuances of it’s scripture.
The tutors think that is fair to a certain extent, but think students who only know enough English to get by should be given a chance to take it in Spanish.
There are four tutors for around eight students.The number of students and tutors fluctuate from session to session.
“We would be glad to have more Spanish tutors come out and help so instead of taking two students each, we can work one-on-one,” said Zacarias.
This last Wednesday during a tutor session, it was observed that these tutees feel very comfortable around their tutors.
They seem to be relaxed and to have a good grasp of what their tutors are explaining. When their tutors asked for help with words in Spanish or pulled out a phone to translate
Not all of these students need the same help. Brenda Murilla comes in every day and is said to be making good progress by her tutors.
Other students are less enthusiastic or confident. Even though these students really need this help, they don’t always show up.
This worries Pasillas and the other tutors because they know if these students don’t come in they will not pass the CAHSEE.
Zacarias and the other tutors feel as though this challenges them sometimes. Their Spanish is a little rusty and require help from the tutees and Google Translate. Through this, though, they feel that they are sharpening their Spanish skills and expanding the tutees’ knowledge of English and its nuances.
The tutors do better than they think.
During the session, they translated well and helped their tutees have a better understanding of the material.
They are adequately explaining the subjects, as shown by the looks of understanding that pass through the tutees eyes.
The tutors feel as though they are making an impact. Zacarias also feels that every time a student comes in and gets help, that she helps them come closer to a good life.