Lorena Ellett is finding her way around this country with a little help from road maps like the Ozark Literacy Council and the Adult Education Center. Before she moved to the U.S. last year, Lorena worked as a health and safety engineer for the Ministry of Health for the government of Chile. In this country, her continued efforts to learn English are slowly yielding some results as she tries to find her way back to the work for which she was educated.
For the 21 students in Berman's West Hills Nevada Elementary School class — four African-Americans and 17 Latinos — the lesson emphasizes the differences between "home language" and the classroom. It's at the heart of a growing urgency at Los Angeles Unified School District that after more than 15 years of quiet awareness, more now needs to be done to meet the challenges faced by students whose native language is English but who speak vernacular dialects at home.
Speaking Spanish is a way for Hispanics to stay connected to their culture. However, the trend among Latino groups is a decrease in language proficiency as generations pass, according to a recent study. Those who do not speak Spanish have found other means to keep in touch with their roots.
The best way to learn a foreign language may be to surround yourself with native speakers. But if you can't manage a trip abroad the Internet and a broadband computer connection may do the job, too, bringing native speakers within electronic reach for hours of practice.
An Illinois school district can offer little help to juniors with limited English proficiency who in April will take the standard statewide achievement test, officials say. Such students formerly took a simplified test in English that attempted to measure academic progress in math and reading. However, state and federal education officials concluded last fall that the test didn't meet the testing requirements of federal No Child Left Behind legislation.
A second-grade science lesson on balance and motion at West View Elementary in Burlington attracts lots of eager volunteers. There's action and engagement, two hallmarks of good teaching. But there's something that, in some circles at least, is more controversial. The teacher, Miguel Rivas, conducts the entire class in Spanish.
In 2003 parent Blanca Diaz created <i>Padres Unidos</i>, a Spanish-speaking parents group at California's Del Mar High School. Her hope was to connect parents to their children's education and close the learning gap through parental involvement. Five years later <i>Padres Unidos</i> has benefited parents, helped students get into universities, boosted the high school's academic performance, and has become a model program for other schools in its district.
Students at James Madison University are knocking down the barrier between the university and its community by mentoring sixth and seventh grade Latino students at a local middle school. Every other Wednesday JMU students who are members of the club "AMISTAD" go to the school to talk with Latino kids about their own culture, and diversity in the cultures and people around them. The name "AMISTAD" means "friendship" in Spanish, but speaking Spanish is not a requirement. Many of the Latino kids are bilingual and several don't speak Spanish at all.
Learning English has become a family affair at a California elementary school, one that has students jumping out of their chairs every week to show off their newly acquired language skills. It's called Family English Night — a weekly gathering of about 10 families of English-language learner students that involves board games and seemingly nonstop conversations among the teacher, students, and parents. The important part, though, says the school principal, is what happens after the class — that parents and students take their new language skills and use them at home, ultimately improving students' English fluency at school.
We are failing our most vulnerable students. Their parents have left behind their professions, their families, and their countries to give their children a better life. But they arrive here only to find the most basic stepping stone to their child's success — the mastery of English — is a pawn in a financial shell game. As a Sunday feature revealed, the province is still not prepared to stop grants earmarked for teaching English as a second language (ESL) from being used instead by cash-strapped boards to pay for swimming lessons, heating bills, and other underfunded priorities.