Linh Nguyen – New School, New Language

Trista Truong, Writer

Moving schools is never easy. New friends, new teachers, new places. However, for Linh Nguyen she struggled with a new language. Linh is a freshman at Chaffin and is experiencing new things at this school. Everything she was used to is long gone, and she’s terrified.

Linh Nguyen was originally from Vietnam and her English is very limited. Luckily, I was able to help her around and translate. I didn’t want her to feel alone. Being in a new school can make you feel really small. That was exactly how Linh felt and she was also physically small. While walking to class, I asked her if she was scared and she said, “Of course I’m scared. I don’t know what anyone is saying.”

Not only was she learning new things, but so was I. I learned a little bit about her and a little more about the things she was used to. She is very different from everyone at this school. She has different style, different hopes and motivations. Normal things for us, were new to her. Walking to the gym, I explained to her this is where she will be doing activities everyday. She was very confused. Linh also didn’t understand what the teacher’s rules were. It was a lot to take in.

I only have one class with her and I sit next to Linh. She doesn’t know anything about what we are learning. She can’t do much in this situation though. Imagine listening to your own teacher talk and it all sounds like gibberish. That’s frightening. I clearly remember a day when I looked over at her paper to make sure she was okay. She had done the work wrong and I told her, “If you need help, ask Mrs. Macy.” I knew Mrs. Macy could help because she is Chaffin’s ELL teacher. However, what she said next made my heart ache. “There’s no point in asking her because I never understand what she’s saying.” I was speechless. I didn’t know what to do, so I told Mrs. Macy and she took Linh to her room so they could use the translator online.

There are many students at Chaffin who speak more than one language, but we were lucky enough to learn English at a young age and be able to understand school work. Linh doesn’t get that privilege. Google Translate is not very accurate, so it makes me worried she won’t be able to understand. However, in the two days I got to be with Linh, I can tell she is a strong girl. She can get through it, and we will all be here to help her. Chúc may mắn!