ELL News Headlines

Throughout the week, Colorín Colorado gathers news headlines related to English language learners from around the country. The ELL Headlines are posted Monday through Friday and are available for free!

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Making the Transition: Spanish-Language and Latin@-Focused Beginning Readers and Chapter Books

Beginning readers and early chapter books are essential in the development of children’s literacy. Their short chapters and simple vocabulary help young readers to feel successful and confident in their reading, which is key to helping them become lifelong readers. There are many classic beginning readers available in Spanish—either translations of works by masters like Arnold Lobel and Else Minarik or titles by Latin@ authors like Lulu Delacre.

Sherman Alexie on His New Kids' Book and the Angst of Being a 'Jr.'

Sherman Alexie's new children's book stars Thunder Boy Smith, a little boy who was named after his dad. Alexie tells NPR's David Greene that he found inspiration for the book in a surprising place: his own father's funeral. Alexie channeled that angst into Thunder Boy Jr. "I was really interested in creating a picture book with a healthy Native American family where they respond to big questions in healthy ways," he says. "And what's the bigger question than, you know, 'Who am I?' "

Teaching Through the Language Barrier

Marlen Mansoor is your typical 15-year-old. She plays soccer, excels in her classes, and enjoys hanging out with friends. But about three years ago, when Mansoor fled Iraq with her family, she didn't speak a word of English. Mansoor is just one of many young students moving to Knoxville as a refugee. In fact, between October and May of this school year, Knox County Schools saw an increase of more than 500 students who do not speak English as their primary language.

Is Extra Funding Helping English Learners? One School's Contentious Decision

Despite getting an extra $187,000 this year to help at-risk kids — the state's new way of handing out money — Oak Ridge Elementary in Sacramento will be cutting its last reading specialist, who works intensively with ELLs, because several other streams of funding are drying up. A big chunk of the state money next year is paying for the school's assistant principal. But some teachers argue specialists are more critical.

Video: A Day in the Life of a Multilingual High School

At Pennsylvania's Upper Darby High School in suburban Philadelphia, more than 15 languages are spoken in a student body of nearly 4,000. To help support such a diverse array of English-language learners, the school created a peer tutoring program.

Fed Up with Anti-Latino Sentiment, Hundreds of Portland High Schoolers Leave Class

For Edith Garcia, it didn't matter that the incident happened 35 miles away or that one of the students who hung the "build a wall" banner had apologized.  What happened in Forest Grove last week — when hundreds of Washington County teenagers left school to protest the banner as an attack on Latino immigrants — mattered. And so Garcia, a junior at Roosevelt High School in North Portland, organized a protest of her own.

In Meatpacking Industry, Somali Refugees Find Hope — And Lose It

Though meatpacking plants have long relied on labor by immigrants, particularly Hispanics, major companies have moved to hire Somalis, who have the dual advantage for employers of being legal and relatively cheap. As a result, "Little Somalia" neighborhoods are sprouting up in dozens of towns across the Great Plains, and slaughterhouses are hiring Somali translators for the cutting floors and installing Muslim prayer rooms for employees. And their plight in this country — at a time when a record number of refugees globally are fleeing repression and war — shows the lasting disadvantages facing a group escaping a failed state, even after that group starts over in one of the world’s richest nations.

For Stalled ELL Students, Graduation Is Often an Elusive Goal

Three years ago, Kevin Pineda—who came to the United States from Guatemala at age 6—was failing or struggling in nearly all his classes at Fairfax High School here. He was on the verge of following his father's advice to drop out of school and come work alongside him as an electrician. Part of what changed Pineda's mind: the one class he liked and was beginning to succeed in, Advanced English Language Development. That class was a brand-new course aimed at students, who, like Pineda, had been enrolled in the Los Angeles Unified School District for years but never managed to "reclassify" and move on from the English-language-learner designation. Pineda, now 18, liked that the class gave him time to practice his language skills by talking to his peers and the chance to read out loud without feeling embarrassed. And he liked the teacher, Joel Miller, who had more than 40 years in the classroom.