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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Some of America’s poorest college kids are in financial aid limbo, thanks to disruptions at the IRS

Ongoing disruptions at the Internal Revenue Service are hindering college students from receiving federal student loans and grants, university administrators say, though federal officials deny it is related to the partial government shutdown. The disruptions, which make it harder for some families to provide proof of their income, could block Pell grants, student loans, parent PLUS loans and other forms of federal financial aid from reaching students. The problems potentially could prevent them from enrolling in spring classes or selecting an affordable school for the coming academic year, according to aid experts.

These teachers ended their holiday breaks early this week. Here’s why.

More than two dozen Lakota school teachers volunteered to end their holiday break early by taking classes to help them better use learning technology in their classrooms. Helen Vassiliou, an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at Adena Elementary, said the instruction in new ways to incorporate digital teaching and learning in classrooms allows new ways "to showcase what students can do."

"We can transform their learning and this is a perfect opportunity … to build engagement and critical thinking," said Vassiliou. "I have to do better for the kids I work with."

A Conversation With U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, an Award-Winning Teacher

The 116th U.S. Congress is more diverse than ever before, with a historic wave of women of color taking office. While much of the national spotlight has been on the youngest woman to serve in Congress, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York, there is also a former history teacher who has made history with her election: Rep. Jahana Hayes. Hayes, the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, taught high school for over a decade. A Democrat, she is the first black woman from Connecticut to serve in Congress. 

How Harry Potter Has Brought Magic To Classrooms For More Than 20 Years

September marked the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’s U.S. release. NPR asked teachers then to tell us how the book has changed the way they teach. More than 1,000 educators, from elementary teachers to university professors, responded to NPR’s callout with stories about how they incorporate the Harry Potter series into their curriculum and classrooms. Deborah Stack teaches English as a second language at a middle school in the Bronx, N.Y., and says her classroom is mainly divided between Spanish speakers and Arabic speakers. Finding engaging material in those two languages has been hard, Stack says, especially because her students vary in their reading levels in both their native languages and English. But this year, she decided to try reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with them after she found the digital editions in both Spanish and Arabic.

Justin Minkel: How to Be a Better Mentor to Your Students

Award-winning ELL teacher Justin Minkel writes in this column, "In every strong teacher-prep program I have seen, the role of mentor teachers is crucial. But being a skilled teacher of children doesn’t automatically make you a skilled mentor of new teachers. So how do you teach someone to teach?"

To Save Their Endangered Language, 2 Cherokee Brothers Learn As They Teach

The Eastern Band Cherokee have been speaking their native language in the mountains of what is now North Carolina for more than 1,000 years. But today, most of the remaining speakers are over 50 years old. And many of those who teach the language — including Micah and his younger brother, Jakeli Swimmer — aren't fluent. Like many other Native Americans, the Swimmers have been struggling to save their language from extinction. According to UNESCO, their Eastern Band Cherokee dialect is "severely endangered."

In Newark, bilingual students gain an edge in the enrollment process

For the first time, Newark students who are still learning English will gain an edge when they apply to schools this year — part of the district’s ongoing effort to ensure that all schools serve their fair share of high-needs students. The city’s computerized enrollment system, which allows families to apply to most traditional and charter schools using an online portal, has for years given a preference to low-income students and those with disabilities. But it has not previously done that for English learners, even though they are more segregated than those other groups.