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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Learning Early, Together

Sitting at tables pushed into a box at the McKinley Elementary School, several adults raised a hand when asked who had recently taken the U.S. citizenship exam. In rooms upstairs, their children were in preschool classes. There, a young Vietnamese boy in one room can answer in English when asked a question in Spanish by a classmate. The York City School District's Even Start program aims to promote literacy by offering classes jointly to parents and children. The city school district has more than 1,400 English learners, about 19 percent of the entire student population.

House OKs English-Language Instruction

Arizona's state House of Representatives voted Wednesday to spend $40 million next year to boost English-language instruction for non-native speakers, even though school districts with the most English-language learners would get little or none of the money. In a protracted and contentious debate, with the clock ticking toward a court-imposed Tuesday deadline, the House voted 37-23 to direct the additional money into special programs for children who lack skills in English.

Walkout a Civics Lesson

Students calling for schools to recognize Cesar Chavez's birthday by giving them a day off got an impromptu civics lesson Monday: Civil disobedience has its consequences. On what would have been the 81st birthday of the leader of the farmworker rights movement, dozens of students from Sacramento schools left their campuses and made their way downtown to Cesar Chavez Park. They were there to express pride in their Latino roots and call for greater recognition of Chavez in the public schools. The students were met by police who told the students they were truant.

First-grader Helps Mother with English

The ESL (English as a Second Language) program in Cannon Falls, MN is having a ripple effect from one student enrolled in the program. Eager to learn English, student Mari Mendivil's mother is acquiring a few new words in her vocabulary as her daughter practices her reading skills at home. Mari enjoys reading children's books to her mother, then identifies pictures with the corresponding words to help her learn.

Science: The New ELL Testing Frontier

Testing experts are creating a pool of science test items they hope that some states eventually will use to assess English-language learners in science to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act. The challenge, the researchers say, will be to show through research studies that their science items are comparable with those on states' regular science tests required by the No Child Left Behind Act.

Promoting Reading for Kids

Literacy is being promoted in different languages in New York. The Sunset Park branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is now offering parent workshops in Spanish and English in order to create lifelong readers among the children and empower parents to become part of their child's education. Officials say the library's budget has been increased to accommodate more multi-lingual programs.

Girl's Curiosity Puts Her on a Fast Track for Language and Math

Mai Vang Lee and her family arrived in Minnesota in May 2005 from a refugee camp in Thailand. She was part of a group of more than 1,500 Hmong refugees who enrolled in St. Paul schools over a span of about two years from 2004 through 2006. In 2 1/2 years she has gone from entry-level English literacy to the stage just below fluency, reading at a fifth-grade level. Last month, she was part of a five-member team from Randolph Heights that placed third in the regional Math Masters competition. According to one of her teachers, "She's one of the rare examples of a kid who beats the averages."

Study: Dyslexia Differs by Language

Dyslexia affects different parts of children's brains depending on whether they are raised reading English or Chinese. That finding, reported in Monday's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, means that therapists may need to seek different methods of assisting dyslexic children from different cultures.

Schools Reach Out to Spanish-Speaking Families

As Texas' Hispanic population grows, public schools are rethinking the ways they communicate with Spanish-speaking parents. They are offering English and citizenship courses, translating school documents, dubbing audio recordings of board meetings in Spanish, and hiring interpreters in an attempt to reach parents who historically have not been deeply involved in their children's education.

Spider-Man Boosts Literacy

An Oregon first-grade teacher's habit of incorporating comic books into classroom reading lessons was found by a researcher to improve reading and writing in English-language learners. The teacher used, for example, a Spider-Man story to illustrate how problem-solution scenarios make a story interesting, a technique students then put to use in generating their own stories.