French-speaking Haitian children in Springfield getting help with English language

A Cedarville University graduate is working to bridge the language gap by helping French-speaking Haitian children in Springfield learn English.

Ian MacPhail-Fausey, a 2021 linguistics graduate, has been teaching Haitian children how to speak English in Springfield, which is an area in need of help with their growing Haitian immigrant population, since last fall.

The Springfield City School District saw their English as a Second Language (ESL) student population more than double by the end of 2021 due to the low cost of living, thriving job market and well-established immigrant outreach efforts in the area.

In response to this, Springfield hired several ESL teachers throughout the year, including MacPhail-Fausey, who originally applied to be a French interpreter for the district.

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MacPhail-Fausey interpreted French for students at multiple schools in ESL classrooms for two months before he was given an ESL teaching role in December at Springfield High School, where he has been working since.

“A lot of the students come in as what we call newcomers, speaking no English at all. My role is to give them English language instruction so they can go into their content courses,” MacPhail-Fausey said.

“It’s like teaching a regular high school classroom, but the students aren’t regular... There is a lot of unique culture and entirely different needs to address. I love interacting with them and they teach me so much about their culture and themselves,” he added.

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MacPhail-Fausey, who knows six languages, can teach students at a variety of skill levels. He said even within the beginners course there are both students closer to an intermediate level and some with no English experience at all.

“A lot of what I have to do is bridge that gap and differentiate between the two, so I address each of their individual needs,” he said.

“From my degree, I have learned to identify common grammatical themes between English and other languages. I enjoy helping students understand how their current way of speaking is actually an advantage when switching languages... By making the effort to learn the languages they speak and building relationships with them, I have made them feel more connected and established here,” MacPhail-Fausey said.

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