1. K-State home
  2. »College of Education
  3. »About Our College
  4. »Publications
  5. »Journey to Refuge eBook Companion Site
  6. »The Journey to a New Language

College of Education

The Journey to a New Language

Learn more about the adult ESL course for parents offered by Curtis Middle School and taught by Neil Maki (additional footage than what is in the full documentary film):


All right so we have two forms in the present, what are the two forms? My name is Neil Maki and I'm an adult literacy instructor. The goal of our program in part is to strengthen the local community but also to help parents connect with their kids’ teachers and with their students – you know, help them with their homework and help them to understand how they're living their lives now in this new place. When a non-English speaker has to rely on their kid for so much linguistically, when they have to rely on their kid to help them out at their parent-teacher conferences, there's a weird flip in the dynamic with parenthood and adulthood that could be kind of embarrassing for the adults.

When I first started, we were mostly teaching Hispanics and now it's about 50% Hispanic and 50% everything else – Somali, Sudanese, people who speak Arabic from Iraq and Jordan, and many other places. I'm the most proud of getting this all to gel, because when we started out here we had pretty low numbers and we had no structure. Where it was people, a revolving door, people come and go whenever they want, and their levels are, you know – this person's a really, really advanced, almost fluent and this person doesn't know their alphabet, and so I've structured it in a way that makes sense to me and it seems to make sense to the students so they can feel a sense of progress and so that they can really kind of build themselves together and kind of get the sense of community. So I think that we definitely have built a community here.

It's really exciting to see the progress that they make over the course of a year or half a year, however long they've been together.

Journey to Refuge ebook cover

Download the eBook at New Prairie Press

Published April 2019

Recommended Citation: Harlow, Trina D., "Journey to Refuge: Understanding Refugees, Exploring Trauma, and Best Practices for Newcomers and Schools" (2019). NPP eBooks. 26. https://newprairiepress.org/ebooks/26

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

See the full Refuge in the Heartland documentary

For more information about the eBook or film, please contact Dr. Trina Harlow, Book Editor and Film Co-Director, at drtrinaharlow@gmail.com.