"Second Life," the online world that brings players together from across the globe to socialize, shop, and even fly, is developing a second career as a hot spot for learning English as a second language (ESL). English-language instructors who spend time with students there say they're combining fun and learning--and getting excellent results. Kip Boahn, who has co-led a real-life English-language school in Germany for the last eight years, has become passionate about teaching in "Second Life" and has now built his own ESL center. "Second Life English," Boahn's new project, is a virtual island entirely dedicated to providing free online resources to language teachers and students.
More professionals, but no additional funding. That's the offer the Colorado Department of Education has made to school districts throughout the state. Under its "Forward Thinking" initiative, the Department of Education is taking applications for educational service providers to help close achievement gaps between students of different races and income brackets, including English language learners. Currently, the district receives about $30,000 from state and federal funding for its ELL programs each year, but the average amount the district spends for these services annually is about 10 times that amount.
Delaware public schools have made recent gains in closing achievement gaps. A growing number of educators, parents, students, business leaders, and elected officials attest, however, that greater potential exists. Finding the money to pay for the changes necessary to reach that potential is one of the hurdles that the state faces. ELL teacher Mary Norton believes that the current system is not serving her ELL students, and parent Melanie Cord believes that the system is not challenging her gifted daughter. As Delaware educators and policymakers look ahead to the future, they are facing difficult decisions about which programs to fund, and which to cut.
Recruiters from Boston's public school district spent three days last week in Puerto Rico scouring the Caribbean island for bilingual teachers as part of a fledgling initiative to boost Latino student achievement in the city. Boston recruiters were looking for educators to teach English as a second language, as well as math, science, and special education. More than a third of Boston's 56,000 students are Latino; more than 40 percent of them are learning English as a second language. Since the state eliminated bilingual education in 2002, these students have fallen further behind. The recruiters needed to work hard — at a job fair begun by the University of Puerto Rico last year in response to the growing demand for Spanish-speaking teachers in the rest of the United States, Boston had competition from 16 other public school systems, including Chicago, Denver, and Dallas.
The school district in Calexico, CA, has hired a photographer to stand at the border crossing to take pictures of children as they enter the U.S. It is also requiring that parents provide proof of U.S. residency in order for their kids to attend its overcrowded schools.
South Dakota has become the 17th state to decide to adopt ACCESS for ELLs, which is being used by more states than any other English-language-proficiency test to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act's requirement that schools test ELLs every year in their progress in English. The test is designed to assess ELLs in reading, writing, speaking, and listening, and was created by the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment, or WIDA, consortium. WIDA was formed for the purpose of developing English-language-development standards and a test aligned with them.
Raleigh school leaders want to launch three high school academies this fall aimed at providing more intense training for foreign-born students who struggle with English. These pilot programs would go beyond courses that have been deemed insufficient. The academies, for which three teachers will be hired, are billed as a recognition of the needs of the district's burgeoning Hispanic population and an attempt to combat the tendency of students who enter the ninth grade speaking little or no English to lag academically or drop out.
Sometime this month, a handful of parents from Illinois' Naperville School District 203 will discover that their children have secured a coveted spot in the district's pilot elementary foreign language classes. Demand has been so high that the district is using a lottery to determine who will participate in the rejuvenated elementary Spanish program this fall. It replaces the one the district abandoned in 2002 because of budget cuts. The schools join a growing number of suburban districts that are embracing a different approach to teaching foreign language to their youngest students.
Hispanic students at an Arkansas high school will again have the option to trade the traditional corsage and slow-dance prom for one with reggaeton beats and Spanish lyrics. Less than 1,000 students attended the school's prom last year as Hispanic students planned an alternative prom for the same day, without the school's sponsorship or help.
There is neither time nor a reason to slow down a plan to update the English language arts and reading curriculum for public schools, State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy said Wednesday after a Texas lawmaker pleaded for input from Hispanic experts since Hispanic children now make up a large plurality of the 4.7 million students attending Texas public schools.