ELL News Headlines

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Opinion: Judge Sotomayor, a Mythic 'Hispanic'

Here's a good argument for putting Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court: She's knowledgeable, respected, and deeply experienced. As a federal judge for nearly two decades, she's heard thousands of cases and written hundreds of opinions. And here's a lousy argument for confirming Sotomayor: She would be the first "Hispanic" on the court.

English Program Sees Surge in Number of Tutors

Until last fall, Julie Heagney had trouble recruiting tutors for students who needed help to improve their English skills. In August, she even had to cancel a training session due to lack of volunteers. Not anymore. The number of new tutors since last September has increased to 70 and it could reach 100 by the end of the year, said Heagney, who coordinates Literacy Unlimited at the Framingham Public Library. The program, which offers one-on-one tutoring, has about 200 tutors, between new and old, for more than 300 students.

High School Senior Says He's Breaking Stereotypes

When Jonathan Trujillo was 6 years old, he asked his mom: "What college am I going to go to?" Sonia Trujillo smiles at the memory, recalling what she told her son 11 years ago: "You're in first grade! Don't worry about it now." But Jonathan, now 17, never lost sight of his college goals. He plans to attend Columbia University next fall, and he'll be graduating Wednesday from Clayton Valley High School. In four years, when he expects to have a bachelor's degree in political science and creative writing, he hopes to enroll in Yale Law School.

Schools Find Way to Hook Kids On Learning English, Interacting

Twenty years ago, a young boy from Cambodia found his way into Debbie Birgfeld's English for Speakers of Other Languages classroom at Bethesda Elementary School in Maryland. Buna, a shy boy, had spent the previous two years living in the jungle with his family after escaping from a Khmer Rouge prison camp. For him, a formal education was not the priority. Survival was. But Buna did have one distinct talent that set him apart: fishing. So, Birgfeld packed up her class and took the students to a local lake, where Buna taught the rest of the class to fish. That outing started a tradition that continues today.

Opinion: A Recession Is No Excuse to Slash Support for Our Libraries

In this column, Sila M. Calderón, the former governor of Puerto Rico and a trustee of the New York Public Library, writes, "Governing and public service are a balancing act, and there are no pain-free ways to save millions of dollars in taxpayer money in this terrible economy. But the libraries don't just serve one interest. They serve everybody — bringing the world to the wealthy, to the middle class, and crucially, to the disadvantaged and underserviced communities."

Newark's Multilingual Spelling Bee Turns 30

Igor Perru walked up to the microphone under the glare of the stage lights and began. "Engenheiro," the 12-year-old Newark boy said as he announced his test word in Portuguese before a panel of three judges seated before him. Then he spelled it out. "E-N-G-E-N-H-E-I-R-O." And said it again, "Engenheiro." His spelling — for the "engineer" in English — was on target, giving the sixth-grader at Newark's Lafayette School top honors in the Division A competition during the 30th annual Multilingual Spelling Bee.

Debate Erupts Over Muslim School in Virginia

For years, children's voices rang out from the playground at the Islamic Saudi Academy in this heavily wooded community about 20 miles west of Washington. But for the last year the campus has been silent as academy officials seek county permission to erect a new classroom building and move hundreds of students from a sister campus on the other end of Virginia's Fairfax County.

For Some Immigrant Students, Language Barrier Is Extra-Wide

Nadim Bolous is one of a kind. Of the 1,141 students at Park View Middle School in Yucaipa, CA, he is believed to be the only one whose first language is Arabic. Most immigrant students who enroll in California public schools are native Spanish speakers, but not all of them. Arabic was the 10th most common language among English language learners statewide. But at Park View Middle School, the fact that it's Nadim's first language makes him unique.

Arabic-Language Children's Prize to Launch

Arabic-language children's publishers have a new book prize: the Etisalat Award for Arab Children's literature, which promises one million dirham ($270,000) to the best Arab children's book of the year. "There is a large trend in the Arab world to translate books from other cultures into Arabic," said Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, founder of the prize. "This is a great way for a child to learn about a different culture. However, there also needs to be some homegrown books that are written and illustrated by Arabs who will be able to interpret the world the way an Arab child sees it."

An Identity in Soccer

A muddy field near Reserve Avenue in Roanoke, VA serves as home turf for the William Fleming High School soccer team. This team, with players from 10 countries — including Somalia, Liberia, Haiti and Burundi — came to Roanoke looking for a better life or to escape war, persecution and poverty. Some are lucky enough to live with their parents. Others were sent to stay with relatives and do not know when, or if, they'll get to see their parents again. They picked up a new language and learned how to survive in this strange new country and this strange new school.