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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Diploma Test Finds Language Is Hurdle

At the Welcome Center at Mifflin International Middle School, students are cramming for a test that English language learners continue to struggle with. Most Ohio high-school students, who start taking the Ohio Graduation Test in 10th grade, must pass all five sections — math, reading, science, social studies and writing — to earn a diploma. "The test winds up being a reading test. It's about how well you can read and understand," said Ken Woodard, who heads the Columbus City Schools' English as a Second Language programs.

Flushing, NY Library Is a Portal for Immigrants

The Queens Library branch sits at the intersection of five avenues, amid an array of Afghan, Indian, Korean, and Vietnamese businesses in this busy borough downtown. It's an appropriate spot for a library whose clientele is overwhelmingly made up of immigrants from Asia and whose purpose is the intersection of conventional book and information services and help for the newly arrived. Every day, more than 5,000 people walk through the doors of this branch in Flushing. The Queens Library system is the busiest in the nation, and the Flushing branch is the busiest in the system. Library patrons come to study English, to get help with health insurance, to learn how to start their own business. They come, in short, to connect with America.

Oregon Measure Would Curb Bilingual Education

Supporters of a proposed Oregon ballot initiative that would put a two-year cap on the amount of time that English-language learners could receive instruction in their native languages or take English-as-a-Second-Language classes have gathered enough signatures to put the measure on the November ballot, state election officials announced Wednesday. The proposed statutory amendment says that public school students who aren't proficient in English "shall be immersed in English, not sidelined for an extended period of time, but mainstreamed with English-speaking students in the shortest time possible."

Changes to District ESL Program Raise Questions

Just under two months ago, Gary Lewis, director of student services for Minnesota's Northfield School District, approached the school board with a dire message: Fix the district's English as a second language program, or face sanctions under the No Child Left Behind Act. At a recent school board meeting, Lewis returned with a comprehensive plan for the ailing ESL program that revolves around the hiring of two additional ESL instructors, using a "push-in" model of ESL education in the elementary levels, rather than the district's previous "pull-out" program. "Pushing in" emphasizes keeping ELL students in the classroom setting with their peers, rather than pulling them out for language instruction, as happens now.

Why the U.S. Wants Filipino Teachers

Since the 1970s, hundreds of Filipino teachers have found employment in American schools. Those numbers are growing exponentially now as more and more U.S. recruiting agencies try to draw Filipino teachers to this country. Recruiters, whose agencies may enlist as many as 700 teachers annually, say that Filipino teachers' facility in both the Filipino and English languages makes them a perfect fit in school districts with a large Filipino-American population. The teachers' quiet search for greener pastures could be just as worrisome, however — a contribution in small or large measure to the Philippines' continuing "brain drain."

Spanish Teachers Face Challenges

Teaching English to Hispanic students isn't the only challenge Spanish teachers in Alabama are facing. It's also refining their Spanish-speaking skills, preserving their heritage, and helping them succeed in a culture much different from their own, said Peggy Bilbro, a retired Spanish teacher at Randolph School. Bilbro joined Spanish teachers from across the state Wednesday at the University of Alabama in Huntsville to discuss ways to help their Hispanic students.

Mexican Linguists Want Indigenous Languages in Schools

Mexican indigenous language specialists want to bring native tongues into elementary schools to prevent them from dying out. The National Institute for Indigenous Languages, or INALI, is proposing to teach indigenous children in their native tongue alongside Spanish, and having Spanish-speaking children study a local Indian language. Mexico has around 60 native languages along with the official Spanish. But with fewer people using them all the time, linguists worry they are at risk of disappearing.

Polish Language Lessons for Fire and Police in UK

Firefighters, police, and council officers in Burnley, England are taking an intensive 10-week course in Polish to help them communicate with migrant workers. They are also being joined by members of the Polish community who are learning English. Unofficial estimates have put the number of migrant workers who have come to Lancashire since 2004 at around 50,000.

Most Hispanic Students Say College Too Costly

About half of Hispanic high school students in Indiana would be the first in their families to attend college, and most feel they can't afford a higher education, according to a new survey. Learn More, Indiana's annual survey of high school freshmen and juniors, found that most students expect to earn a four-year college degree. But fewer Hispanic students expected a four-year degree compared to their peers. The study emphasizes the need for all students to consider themselves "college material," said Elizabeth Crouch, spokeswoman for Learn More Indiana, a group of education organizations.

Study: Some Preschoolers Need Higher Quality Care

Josue Juarez reached a milestone Tuesday in his young life. He graduated from preschool. Compared with many children his age, the 5-year-old from Redwood City has an academic edge going into kindergarten this fall. Many more Latino children like Josue and other student groups should participate in high-quality programs such as Preschool for All, according to a new study released today by the independent, nonprofit research organization RAND Corp. Among its key findings, the study showed that the children who could especially benefit from preschool are the least likely to be in it.

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