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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First Step to Academic Success

Holding the skirt on her spring-appropriate white and blue dress, Rubi Mendez Gonzalez carefully approached steps on the side of the stage. The 8-year-old twirled her skirt while she waited in line with a smile until it was her turn to give John Baker, deputy superintendent of the Redwood City Elementary School District, a card with her name. Then, Gonzalez was handed a certificate denoting her mastery of English. Now she can help translate if needed, she said.

Report Shows Steep Gains by Students From Abroad

Days after it was criticized by lawmakers for failing to make gains with students struggling with English, the city's Department of Education released a report on Tuesday showing that unprecedented numbers of those students became proficient in English last year and that more of them passed state tests in English and math. But despite efforts to improve the performance of the city's 150,000 students who are still learning English, nearly 70 percent of them do not graduate within four years and older students in particular lag behind their peers on state tests.

Massachusetts Educators Not Happy About New English Proficiency Test for Kindergartners

A recent statewide mandate to expand the English proficiency exam to kindergartners has many school officials up in arms. MacArthur Elementary School Principal Anthony Colannino said the Massachusetts English Proficiency Assessment exam is too complicated for young learners, "filling in bubbles much too small for their tiny hands and not-yet- coordinated fingers." In the past, the test was only administered to third- to 10th-graders whose first language is not English and who are "unable to perform ordinary classroom work in English," according to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. This year the exam will be given to students in kindergarten through second grade.

How Can Stimulus Funds Be Used for ELLs? Let's Count the Ways

In her "Learning the Language" blog, Mary Ann Zehr writes, "A group of researchers who are experts on English-language learners and well-respected in the education field are poised to release recommendations this week on how states and school districts should use stimulus funds to improve education for English-language learners. The group of 14 researchers drew up the recommendations because they didn't want ELLs to lose out on the benefits of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, said Diane August, a senior research scientist at the Center for Applied Linguistics, who helped convene the group and sent me the document."

Family Stories as Secret Text for Immigrants

Angela Wu Cen, 19, knew many details about her parents' 13-year migration from China to Panama to New York. But she had never known much about a more intimate aspect of her parents' lives: their courtship. So when Ms. Wu, who was born in Panama and was 12 when the family came to the United States, sat down to interview her mother for an honors seminar at Hunter College last month, she was surprised to learn that her parents' marriage had not been the fruit of a long romance, as she had assumed, but had come about in a matter of weeks.

Influx of Immigrants Puts Pressure on Middle Tennessee Schools

Bu Gay likes math class and learning to read American books. For reasons she can't articulate in English, she doesn't like cutting things out with scissors. Does the petite 14-year-old find school hard? "Not hard," she says. Is she smart? "I don't know," she shyly says, with a laugh. The simple conversation represents a lot of progress for Bu, her school's administrators say. When she came to Tennessee from Thailand back during the summer, questions in English got little more than smiles and nods. The number of ELL students statewide is up 10 percent this year compared with last. In some counties around the state, enrollment in English learner programs has doubled or even tripled since 2005.

UK: English Is a Second Language for One in Seven School Pupils

One in seven primary school pupils in the United Kingdom does not speak English as a first language. The number who normally speak a foreign language rose last year to 565,888 — 14.3 per cent of the total. In some areas, English is a foreign language to more than 70 per cent of four to 11-year-olds, putting enormous pressure on teaching staff. And there are ten schools without a single pupil who has English as a first language, new figures show. Teachers say large concentrations of children with a poor grasp of English can lead to some schools being unfairly condemned by inspectors

Scholars Mull The 'Paradox' of Immigrants

The academic success, tendency to stay out of trouble, and physical health of children of immigrants to the United States tend to decline significantly from the first to the third generation. That troubling pattern brought researchers together here recently at Brown University to examine a provocative question: Is becoming American a developmental risk?

Pink Slips in Schools Bring Out Pink-Filled Protests

As California's deadline for layoff notices arrived, teachers, students and sympathizers protested on "Pink Slip Friday" last week around San Luis Obispo County by cutting class, wearing pink, marching along streets, and gathering at rallies. The most vocal demonstrations took place in the South County's Lucia Mar school district, where the day began with an estimated 900 of Nipomo High School's 1,200 students refusing to attend class. They rallied to support teachers there and elsewhere in the district who recently received layoff notices.

Bilingual Reading Program Mutual Learning Experience

Teaching has become a learning experience for Spanish Honor Society students at Delaware's Glasgow High School. The students volunteer to read in Spanish and English to young children during Bilingual Story Time at their local library. Library specialist Adriana Camacho-Church, who started the program at the library three years ago so young children could become bilingual, said she sees the older children benefiting with them, because it gives them an outlet to practice.