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This study explores how writing personal narratives helps ESL students demonstrate their understanding of science vocabulary and concepts. Key influences include the funds of knowledge students bring to the classroom, culturally congruent teaching, academic English vocabulary, and the authors Moll, Zwiers, McKeown, Beck, Fradd, Lee, and Lemke. The research method consisted of action research with 11 eighth-grade ESL students in the ESL classroom which supported what was concurrently being taught in the mainstream science class. Collected data included observations and written personal narratives. The main findings were: 1) students can demonstrate understanding of both science vocabulary and academic language functions common to science through narrative writing, 2) students can apply science vocabulary when writing about their life experiences, 3) preteaching vocabulary helps students access science content, and 4) teaching content vocabulary to ESL students requires intentional and thoughtful planning and execution.