In this California classroom, students teach each other their home languages — and learn acceptance []


In Acacia WoodsChan’s ethnic studies class at Castlemont High School in Oakland, California, students chat with each other in Spanish, Arabic and Mam, a Mayan language from Guatemala. The students have only been in the U.S. for a few weeks or months. Some are from Yemen and many are from countries in Central America — Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

Last year, WoodsChan became concerned when she started hearing the Spanish-speaking students laugh when their classmates spoke Mam or Arabic or make fun of how those languages sounded.

“You could literally look at the faces of the students who spoke those languages — Mam or Arabic — and just see the level of disappointment,” she said.

[For more on this story by ZAIDEE STAVELY, go to]

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