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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University to Offer New ESL Certification Program

Western Kentucky University plans to unveil a certification program in the fall for students who want to teach English as a Second Language classes without getting a degree in education. WKU's English department has created a new ESL certification program that will qualify graduate students to teach ESL classes. The program is geared primarily toward students who are interested in teaching ESL classes abroad, with a lot of the interest coming from international students who want to teach English in their home countries.

What to Do with Long-Term ELLs?

Panelists and participants at the annual meeting of TESOL in New York City two weeks ago had more questions than answers on how to meet the needs of long-term English language learners. Kate Menken, an assistant professor of linguistics at Queens College of the City University of New York, noted at a session on high school reform that most programs serve the first of three groups of English-language learners that she's identified, newly arrived immigrants. But, she contended, educators "know next to nothing" about long-term ELLs — students who are in school systems for seven or more years without passing tests that would get them out of the category.

Elementary Teachers Studying Somali Culture

Willmar teacher Carrie Thomas has learned to say "thank you" in Somali, to the delight of the students in her English Language Learner class at Kennedy Elementary School in Willmar. The students laugh and correct her pronunciation every time she says it, Thomas said, but she keeps trying. "Our students need to be little risk takers," she said. "I think it helps them to see us take risks."

Learning Early, Together

Sitting at tables pushed into a box at the McKinley Elementary School, several adults raised a hand when asked who had recently taken the U.S. citizenship exam. In rooms upstairs, their children were in preschool classes. There, a young Vietnamese boy in one room can answer in English when asked a question in Spanish by a classmate. The York City School District's Even Start program aims to promote literacy by offering classes jointly to parents and children. The city school district has more than 1,400 English learners, about 19 percent of the entire student population.

House OKs English-Language Instruction

Arizona's state House of Representatives voted Wednesday to spend $40 million next year to boost English-language instruction for non-native speakers, even though school districts with the most English-language learners would get little or none of the money. In a protracted and contentious debate, with the clock ticking toward a court-imposed Tuesday deadline, the House voted 37-23 to direct the additional money into special programs for children who lack skills in English.

Walkout a Civics Lesson

Students calling for schools to recognize Cesar Chavez's birthday by giving them a day off got an impromptu civics lesson Monday: Civil disobedience has its consequences. On what would have been the 81st birthday of the leader of the farmworker rights movement, dozens of students from Sacramento schools left their campuses and made their way downtown to Cesar Chavez Park. They were there to express pride in their Latino roots and call for greater recognition of Chavez in the public schools. The students were met by police who told the students they were truant.

First-grader Helps Mother with English

The ESL (English as a Second Language) program in Cannon Falls, MN is having a ripple effect from one student enrolled in the program. Eager to learn English, student Mari Mendivil's mother is acquiring a few new words in her vocabulary as her daughter practices her reading skills at home. Mari enjoys reading children's books to her mother, then identifies pictures with the corresponding words to help her learn.

Science: The New ELL Testing Frontier

Testing experts are creating a pool of science test items they hope that some states eventually will use to assess English-language learners in science to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act. The challenge, the researchers say, will be to show through research studies that their science items are comparable with those on states' regular science tests required by the No Child Left Behind Act.

Promoting Reading for Kids

Literacy is being promoted in different languages in New York. The Sunset Park branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is now offering parent workshops in Spanish and English in order to create lifelong readers among the children and empower parents to become part of their child's education. Officials say the library's budget has been increased to accommodate more multi-lingual programs.

Girl's Curiosity Puts Her on a Fast Track for Language and Math

Mai Vang Lee and her family arrived in Minnesota in May 2005 from a refugee camp in Thailand. She was part of a group of more than 1,500 Hmong refugees who enrolled in St. Paul schools over a span of about two years from 2004 through 2006. In 2 1/2 years she has gone from entry-level English literacy to the stage just below fluency, reading at a fifth-grade level. Last month, she was part of a five-member team from Randolph Heights that placed third in the regional Math Masters competition. According to one of her teachers, "She's one of the rare examples of a kid who beats the averages."