On Friday, award-winning author/performer José-Luis Orozco makes his seventh annual visit to the Half Moon Bay Library, where he is a familiar face behind cultural and musical presentations for children. A storehouse of Latin American and other musical and cultural tradition, Orozco is a popular visitor, said librarian Armando Ramirez. He draws more than 300 English- and Spanish-speaking listeners for family-oriented shows.
Louisville's youngest residents are an increasingly diverse group, with the number of Hispanic preschoolers growing the most, according to new federal population estimates. The number of Hispanic children younger than 5 has nearly tripled since the 2000 census, and minorities now account for about 35 percent of that age group, up from 29 percent.
The unprecedented building explosion that peaked in 2005 expanded and diversified Culpeper's population like never before, especially in the Spanish-speaking segment. Although growth has substantially stalled since, in the past eight years, the local Hispanic population grew by a remarkable 319 percent — from 858 in 2000 to 3,597 countywide in Culpeper as of July 2008, according to U.S. Census figures released last week.
Official reports disguise Hillsborough schools' real diversity. Ethnic categories are usually broad, but it's the languages spoken at home that reveal how much of the globe the families of Hillsborough County represent. "The languages are just mind-boggling," said Sandra Rosario, Hillsborough schools' supervisor of programs for English Language Learners. "They're a truer flavor of the cultures, the regions."
At least four large urban school districts plan to spend a significant amount of their federal economic-stimulus money to support or improve programs for English-language learners, a fast-growing group in U.S. schools. The districts — Boston, New York City, St. Paul, Minn., and Seattle — have had varying degrees of success serving such students. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which includes up to $100 billion for education programs, doesn't specifically mention ELLs, and the U.S. Department of Education's guidance for the law makes only passing reference to them.
For many parents of East Hampton High School students, trying to understand the school's weighted credits system, the rigorous college application process and the dreaded financial aid forms is as difficult as trying to read a foreign language. More than 31 percent of the East Hampton School District's student body is Hispanic, and many of those students' parents speak little English, even if their children are bilingual. As a result it can be even more of a challenge for them to take an active role in their children's education.
Sarra Said can hardly go a day without picking up a book. What's so remarkable about Sarra's love of books is that she couldn't speak a word of English when she and her family arrived in Tucson almost two years ago from Tripoli, Libya. Sarra, whose first language is Arabic, was honored for having read 1,547,525 words, which amounts to more than 40 books, since October at a recent celebration for about 130 English-language learners in Tucson, AZ.
Frustrated trying to learn German through traditional methods of repetition and rote grammar memorization, Allen Stoltzfus spent a year as a college student studying economics at a Germany university. It worked. And Stoltzfus returned to the United States convinced that full immersion was the fastest and most effective way to learn a foreign tongue. That was his inspiration for a firm that would become Rosetta Stone, which last month made its debut as a public company on the New York Stock Exchange.
Berry College sophomore Meredith Smith has been putting her college education to good use for the past two years as a volunteer with the Language and Literacy Center at the Rome-Floyd County Library. Smith got involved in the program through Berry, where she is currently pursuing degrees in psychology and Spanish. She said she sees her volunteering as an opportunity to help others and to also learn something about her future career — which is why her role in the classroom, one night a week, is to act as translator.
Learning the three R's in English and Spanish simultaneously did not come easy to Oscar Martinez at first. Martinez started participating in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district's dual-language program when he was in kindergarten at Pharr Elementary School. Having learned only English at home, Martinez, now 18, found it difficult to understand some of his teachers who would give lessons in Spanish. By sixth grade, however, he could read, write and carry on conversations in his second language. But the most encouraging result for him was that he was finally able to have a conversation in Spanish with his grandfather.