The Role of Determination in Language Learning: Inspiration from Isacar’s Story

Equipping ELLs

Overcoming Adversity: Isacar’s Inspiring Journey to English Fluency and Academic Success

In Episode 133 of the Equipping ELLs podcast listeners are introduced to Isacar, an inspiring English language learner from Panama. This episode continues in our series of interviews with real English language learners, sharing their remarkable stories of language acquisition.

Innovative Learning Methods

Isacar’s journey began in Panama. Isacar is 1 of 5 children, born to Panamanian parents. His father was a pastor and church-planter, and his mother was an English teacher. Despite his mother being an English teacher, Isacar did not initially learn English at home. As a teenager, he decided he wanted to study abroad. His mother informed him that achieving this dream would require learning English, and Isacar accepted the challenge wholeheartedly.

Without access to TV or a cell phone, Isacar relied on the resources available to him: English books from his mother, audio recordings, and a tape recorder. He diligently read books to grasp grammar, listened to audio books, and recorded himself reading aloud to mimic native speakers. His determination and hard work paid off as he spent countless hours mastering the language.

Immersive Experiences

To further immerse himself in English, Isacar joined his father on mission trips, interacting with English speakers from the U.S. Although he initially understood very little, he persisted in his efforts to learn through immersion. By the ages of 16-17, he had progressed enough to serve as an interpreter for his father and mission teams, even assisting medical missions by translating for doctors in remote areas.

Academic and Professional Success

In his senior year of high school, Isacar researched opportunities to study abroad and discovered the Walton scholarship, designed for high-achieving Latin American students. The scholarship required fluency in English, which Isacar demonstrated through a series of interviews. He was awarded the scholarship and attended Harding University in Arkansas, where he studied computer science and graduated with honors.

Isacar’s bilingual abilities and academic achievements opened numerous career opportunities with international companies upon his return to Panama. His journey illustrates how determination and resourcefulness can overcome significant obstacles.

Inspirational Insights for ELLs and Teachers

Isacar’s story is a testament to the power of mindset and perseverance. Despite growing up in under-resourced public schools and competing against wealthier students, he thrived through his competitive spirit and drive. Today, he often travels to the United States, sharing his expertise in data and teaching others, including those more privileged than he was.

YOU, as a teacher, can inspire your ELL students by fostering a positive mindset and drive, regardless of your students’ backgrounds or starting points. Isacar’s story will not only inspire you but also provide a powerful narrative to share with your ELL students to motivate them to achieve their dreams.

Isacar’s  Advice for English Language Learners

Trust the process. Acknowledge the initial challenges, embrace vulnerability, and remain consistent in your efforts. Utilize whatever resources are available, and understand that learning a second language is a significant achievement. Using your current level of English without fear can open many opportunities that would otherwise be inaccessible!

Isacar is currently completing a master’s degree at a top U.S. university and thriving in his career. His story serves as a powerful inspiration for ELL students and teachers alike, highlighting the transformative impact of determination, resourcefulness, and a positive mindset in language learning and beyond.

This episode is a must-listen for teachers of ELLs looking to inspire their students and foster a resilient, success-driven mindset!

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More about Equipping ELLs:

We all know that teaching isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be this hard. Equipping ELLs is a podcast for both ESL specialists and homeroom teachers who are looking for effective and engaging ways to support their English Language Learners without adding to their endless to-do list. Tune in each week to hear tips, strategies, and inspirational stories that will empower you to better reach your ELL students, equip them with life-long skills, and strengthen relationships with colleagues and parents.

Your host, Beth Vaucher, is the founder of Inspiring Young Learners. She is an ESL certified homeroom teacher with over 10 years of experience teaching in the US and internationally. Her background of M.Ed in ESL and Curriculum and Instruction combined with her experience has led her to develop a bestselling newcomer curriculum that has sold in over 90 countries around the globe. She brings a different perspective to teaching ELLs from her years teaching and living abroad and working with ELLs from around the world. You will walk away from each episode with the ideas and tools you need to transform your experience as a teacher and cultivate a thriving and welcoming environment for your ELL students.



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