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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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.

English-Only Rule in the School Cafeteria Kitchen

This Week in Education and Detentionslip.org have picked up on a recent story reporting that school cafeteria workers in Seminole County, FL, were told they can't speak Spanish on the job.

Immigrant Teens Arrive Too Late to Benefit from School-Based ESL

"The worst time in your life to immigrate is 17 years old." Canadian school district administrator Tony Carrigan has worked with new immigrants for years and seen up close how frustrating it is for newly arrived teens to catch up to their peers when they get a late start. "In many cases you haven't completed your high school at home and you don't have enough English to be able to go on to post-secondary education," he says.

Momentum Builds for Chinese Immersion, but Questions Remain

Oregon's Eugene School District has been plotting the launch of a Mandarin Chinese immersion program for nearly two years, but, as became clear recently, it's no slam-dunk — much to the frustration of parents and community members who can't fathom why there would be any hesitation.

When No Child Left Behind Law Comes into Play

For school district superintendents and teachers, the need to integrate the county's growing Hispanic population is, literally, academic. It stems from the federal No Child Left Behind law, which requires all public school students in third through eighth grades and 11th grade to score "proficient" or better on standardized reading and math tests by 2014. To make sure no students slip through the cracks, the law requires those same goals be met by all students in a school or district, and by students in four subgroups that statistically perform more poorly on standardized tests: low-income, special education, English as Second Language, and minorities. The Hispanic sub-group is one of the minorities in that mix, and in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the double whammy of more grades being tested and more Hispanics in those grades has made Hispanic test results much more important today than five years ago.

ESL Classes Give a Chance

Martha Calle, a baby sitter from Colombia, wants to own her own day care. Daniel Esgralo, a landscaper from Mexico, wants to be able to express himself. Thousands of adults use free English as a Second Language classes throughout North Carolina so they can teach their children and advance at work. Calle and Esgralo study through a N.C. Community College System program that is funded by taxpayer money and does not check the legal status of its students.

New Law Puts Pressure on ELL Programs

Eighteen students sit in Rachel Mangum's classroom at Desert Shadows Middle School, practicing new vocabulary words to describe how to protect the environment. Juanita Martin sits at a small table with six first-graders at Oak Tree Elementary School. She helps Daniel Hwang as he tries to think of a word ending in "ss" to write on the board. According to state data, the non-English speakers at these two Arizona schools are more likely than their peers at most other East Valley schools to learn English and to shed their status as "English-Language Learners." Responding to new legislation, the state is preparing to change the way it educates its English learners this fall. As part of those changes, there will be more pressure placed on schools to successfully move English learners to speaking proficient English — and to do it more quickly.