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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For Two Pa. Teens, Two Paths To College

Emmanuel Garcia, 18, and Marlo Johnson, 17, both of Harrisburg, Pa., spent most of the summer wondering whether they could get the loans and grants they needed to pay for college. The money came through for Garcia, but things didn't work out so well for Johnson.

In Yemen, St. Paul Teachers Train Union Leaders

Amber Prentice, an English Language Learners teacher at Battle Creek Middle School and advisor to Colorín Colorado, wanted to understand the culture shock many of her students experience when they move to St. Paul from places like Somalia and Ethiopia. "For these kids who grew up in a Muslim society to come here, it's really difficult," Prentice said. "Suddenly, women don't have to be fully covered. Suddenly, they are thrust into classrooms with both boys and girls." In August, Prentice and St. Paul Federation of Teachers President Mary Cathryn Ricker traveled to Sana'a, Yemen, where they trained leaders from two different Yemeni teachers' unions in effective teaching techniques.

ELL Challenges Not Insurmountable

Davidson County is home to more than a quarter of all Tennessee's English language learners - a situation that poses challenges to Metro Schools in terms of funding. School district leaders say there are questions as to whether the state's funding formula for ELL students provides appropriate compensation for the resource-intense process of helping kids learn English. And school leaders say there are certain state rules that make it tough to ensure that ELL students are sufficiently proficient in time for the tests. But high percentages of ELL students do not automatically sentence the district to trouble with No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Children Who Live in Public Housing Suffer in School, Study Says

New York City children who live in public housing perform worse in school than students who live in other types of housing, according to a study by New York University researchers. The study, which was released this week, found that students living in public housing are more likely to drop out of high school and less likely to graduate in four years than those who do not live in public housing.

Junot Diaz On 'Becoming American'

During this week of Thanksgiving, NPR is spending time thinking about what it means to become an American. The answers come from three noted authors, including Junot Diaz, an immigrant who arrived in this country from the Dominican Republic at the age of 6. His Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, <em>The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao</em>, centers on an outcast, science fiction-obsessed kid who comes from a family of Dominican immigrants.

ESL Students Speak in Future Tense

Juli Salatino's third-period class is a bit different from her others. Her portable classroom at Davis High School, generally filled with teenagers learning Spanish, is instead occupied by a variety of students working through English verbs and sentence structure. This is her English as a Second Language, or ESL, class. And, for these non-native English-speakers, it's extremely important. Unlike those who are only beginning to learn English words and phrases, students in this ESL class have mastered the language well enough to engage in conversations. They're in class to learn how to express more complex thoughts and ideas.

Schools to Get 'Immigrant Children' Grant from State

The families of the six children in an English as a Second Language class at Connecticut's Berry School last week came from across the globe, from Ecuador to Albania to China. About 10 percent of all Bethel students come from families that do not speak English. In a boost for its ESL program, the school district will get a $17,137 state Department of Education grant, an entitlement grant made possible with federal funds.

Certification for Teaching Second Language Under Debate

Jeanne Taylor is old school in the education world. The Indiana elementary teacher has traveled around the world teaching children English and to figure out the best ways for them to learn. Her degree in education allows her to teach limited-English-speaking students, but Taylor does not hold a specialty license in teaching English as a New Language and has never completed the college courses required to achieve that certification. She is in the majority — most of the teachers in Indiana assigned to teach English as a New Language do not hold a certification in the subject, according to data provided by the Indiana Department of Education and local school districts.

Oregon Elementary School Struggles for Stability

In a classroom at Hallman Elementary School, teacher Lourdes Falcon sounded out "S" for kindergartners gathered around a table. Working in small groups to learn the basic skills needed to read and write, kindergartners wrote out letters and repeated after Falcon. Smiling, Falcon praised them in Spanish. Half of the kindergarten and first-grade classes now are being taught in Spanish at Hallman, part of an effort by the school and district to turn the struggling school around.

Advocates of Bilingual Education Eager to Embrace Obama as Ally

Supporters of bilingual education are hoping that the election of Barack Obama as president will lead to a thaw in attitudes toward what they consider a proven educational method that has been ignored — or worse — by the Bush administration. Advocates are encouraged by the endorsement of bilingual education by President-elect Obama in the recent campaign, and see the pending reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act as a vehicle to change federal testing and other policies they view as hostile to dual-language instruction.