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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Green Bay Kindergartners Immersed in Bilingual Program

Each morning at the Early Learning Center in Green Bay, Spanish- and English-speaking five-year-olds join hands and get a free lesson in cultural exchange. Through fun activities, they are learning each other's language. The only hurdle for the bilingual program is finding teachers. "It's very difficult to find bilingual teachers who are certified to teach in bilingual education," John Wilson of the Green Bay School District's human resources department says.

Lessons in Survival for Chicago's Inner City Preschoolers

From passionate stories of imaginary friends to bed-jumping and play dates gone awry, preschool teachers are often amused by the tales their students tell in school. But in Marisol Sierra's classes at Chicago's McKinley Park Elementary School, the stories told by 4- and 5-year-olds often have startling twists. They talk about riding their bicycles and playing house. But they also bring up "los gang bangers" and how to avoid getting shot.
With several Chicago Public Schools students killed by gunfire this year, Sierra has had to update her curriculum to include lessons that could mean life or death to her pupils. Her work earned her a 2008 Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Award.

Experience Gives Georgia ELL Teachers an Edge

In the past three years, the number of children enrolled in Georgia's Barrow County School System who struggled to speak English has almost doubled. At the same time, about 10 percent more of the students enrolled in Barrow County's English Language Learner program passed all parts of state-mandated standardized tests than students in similar programs across the state. While there's no one strategy Barrow ELL Director Julie Garrison sees as key to the program's success, she thinks it's partly due to the fact that Barrow County teachers had a head start in dealing with substantial groups of students who weren't native English speakers.

Italian Scientists Say Brain Activity Reveals Mother Tongue

No one can read our thoughts, for now, but some scientists believe they can at least figure out in what language we do our thinking. Before we utter a single word, experts can gauge our mother tongue and the level of proficiency in other languages by analyzing our brain activity while we read, scientists working with Italy's National Research Council say. For more than a year, a team of scientists experimented on 15 interpreters, revealing what they say were surprising differences in brain activity when the subjects were shown words in their native language and in other languages they spoke. The findings show how differently the brain absorbs and recalls languages learned in early childhood and later in life, said Alice Mado Proverbio, a professor of cognitive electrophysiology at the Milano-Bicocca University in Milan.

More Bilingual Education May Be on the Way in Albany

Every year, more than 50 kindergartners enroll in Albany schools needing help learning English. As a result, a new committee will study whether Albany can deliver better services to English language learners (ELLs) through more bilingual classes, particularly at the young elementary level. Albany schools have established a 10-member committee, made up of administrators, ELL teachers, and a school board member, to explore this idea. The plan is to present a recommendation to the school board in December or January and maybe have a pilot program in a classroom or two by next fall.

Austin Non-profits Collaborate to Give the Gift of Literacy

Two groups in Austin are joining forces to help families succeed through basic literacy tutoring and ESL classes. Literacy Austin and Lifeworks are now able to expand their services while helping children and their families. According to Literacy Austin, 24 percent of Texans read below the 5th grade reading level, and Texas ranks 11th in percentage of people over the age of 25 who do not have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Canadian School Offers Program as Introduction to Chinese

Giggling and joking pops up during the lesson as young students try to remember how to say each Chinese number. But all the after-school energy is reigned in when Faith Tsou steps and turns, moving a flowing, fan-like wave around her as she displays a traditional Chinese dance. Canada's Woodbury Elementary School launched an eight-week after-school Chinese club this semester. The club was created after parents who adopted Chinese children asked if there was a way to introduce the culture to both the adopted children and their siblings.

Quorum: What Will Globalization Do to Languages?

The headline says it all, although the unspoken question is: will globalization indeed result in the hegemony of English, as has long been promised/threatened? The New York Times Freakonomics blog asked some experts to consider the question.

"Ordinary" and Muslim

"It's hard to be perceived as 'ordinary' and Muslim at the same time in post-9/11 America," write several teachers in the introduction to a book that relays personal narratives of Muslim high schoolers living in New York City. The book, <em>This is Where I Need to Be: Oral Histories of Muslim Youth in NYC</em>, is a collection of stories based on interviews of Muslim teenagers that were conducted by Muslim youth.

Letter: Latino Students Are a Credit to This Community

In this letter to the editor, Maureen Anderson, migrant education coordinator for North Carolina's Buncombe County Schools, writes "I would like to commend Gov. Easley for supporting our students in North Carolina who are living in our state but are without proper immigration documents &#133; Even as the North Carolina attorney general was declaring that many of these students are not welcome at our public universities, 20 Latino students, including five graduating seniors, were volunteering at MANNA FoodBank in Asheville, giving back to their community."