New Warriors Find Comfort and Success in the English Language Development Program

Students become comfortable with English skills and connect to America’s culture in this dynamic program


Maddy Cornelio

ELD teacher Dan Kozak gives instructions to his students during class.

Students from different countries can develop their English skills in the English Language Development program. Woodbridge High welcomes and educates students from all corners of the world. The ELD program helps foreign students acclimate to a new language and culture while preparing them for future success. 

“ELD helped me adapt to the environment a little easier. It is not easy to come to a country for a year or two and then directly speak to [a] native speaker,” junior Jack Chen said. “It is a very helpful program, especially for newcomers.

Beyond the educational aspect of the program, the ELD program has created a welcoming environment for students. 

“Our students here are better able to make friendships, understand the campus better and become more a part of the community, “ English teacher and ELD coordinator Dan Kozak said.

Students enjoy connecting with others while strengthening their skills in English, relying on one another to talk about new problems they may face while adjusting to the unfamiliar culture. 

“It is not like [teachers and parents] force you to go there,” senior and former ELD student Kitty Huang said. “It’s more like a friend or family that helps you adjust to the new school.” 

Students can also better learn to adapt to the local culture. Chen was able to learn and recognize distinctive traits and habits of the English language and how they differed from his native Chinese. This taught him how to act appropriately around locals and more quickly become integrated in the environment.  

Despite individual stigmas that may surround the program, the ELD program provides an equivalent education to that of a college preparatory course.  

“There is a stigma that classes like these are considered ‘low classes’ and I think that’s a really bad connotation,” Kozak said. “It doesn’t mean that it’s a lower level class, it just means that it gives some more support for students to get [proficient] academic English.”

Kozak also praises the addition of ELD 1 onto the Woodbridge campus. Students are now able to progress through the ELD program without attending University or Irvine High first. 

Absent of the social pressures, students are provided the opportunity to engage in challenging content, and advance from foundational English to language mastery in a welcoming environment. 

“There are students who have picked up on deeper lesson of the class, like lessons on critical thinking. Students who are able to push their thinking beyond normal comments and really think about how a work of literature compares to the things they’ve seen in the world and other things that they’ve read, are able to create those bigger level connections,” Kozak said. “I’d say those are […]college level performance tasks that students are doing coming out of the ELD program.” 

Kozak believes that his students are very motivated individuals. Similarly to is time working with English students in Krakow Poland he finds the students tremendously capable but held back by their lack of English skills. 

Becoming comfortable with the English language and surrounding peers is a wonderful opportunity that the ELD program provides. “I think the community should encourage immigrants or newcomers students to actively join the ELD program because you don’t feel discouraged or feel really nervous being in that program,” junior and ELD student Ding Luo said. “The newcomers around you are all the same, they are all English learners, creating an environment that makes people feel more comfortable.”