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Imagine moving to a new country as a young child where you do not understand the language, being placed in the country's school system, and being expected to learn the same lessons as the other children in your class. Sound difficult? "It was extremely difficult," shared Maria Diaz-Ponce, a sophomore in the College of Education's elementary education program. At 11 years old, Diaz-Ponce and her family moved from Michoacan, Mexico to Pikeville, North Carolina where she was placed in a sixth grade class in her new hometown. Her knowledge of the English language was so limited that she had another student (who was bilingual) write in English on a card, 'Can I use the restroom?' and 'Can I go and drink water?' Diaz-Ponce would raise these cards so her teachers would be aware of her needs and excuse her from the classroom.
During this difficult time in Diaz-Ponce's childhood she found support and encouragement in her ESL teacher, Miss Cloete. According to Diaz-Ponce, "[Miss Cloete] had to start by teaching me the basics like my ABCs." In addition to providing encouragement, her ESL teacher challenged her to learn English through unorthodox teaching methods.