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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Helping Los Estudiantes

Students at James Madison University are knocking down the barrier between the university and its community by mentoring sixth and seventh grade Latino students at a local middle school. Every other Wednesday JMU students who are members of the club "AMISTAD" go to the school to talk with Latino kids about their own culture, and diversity in the cultures and people around them. The name "AMISTAD" means "friendship" in Spanish, but speaking Spanish is not a requirement. Many of the Latino kids are bilingual and several don't speak Spanish at all.

Parents Attend School's English Class

Learning English has become a family affair at a California elementary school, one that has students jumping out of their chairs every week to show off their newly acquired language skills. It's called Family English Night — a weekly gathering of about 10 families of English-language learner students that involves board games and seemingly nonstop conversations among the teacher, students, and parents. The important part, though, says the school principal, is what happens after the class — that parents and students take their new language skills and use them at home, ultimately improving students' English fluency at school.

Opinion: Kids Are Pawn in ESL Shell Game

We are failing our most vulnerable students. Their parents have left behind their professions, their families, and their countries to give their children a better life. But they arrive here only to find the most basic stepping stone to their child's success — the mastery of English — is a pawn in a financial shell game. As a Sunday feature revealed, the province is still not prepared to stop grants earmarked for teaching English as a second language (ESL) from being used instead by cash-strapped boards to pay for swimming lessons, heating bills, and other underfunded priorities.

California Students Fare Well in AP Exams

California public school students continued to outperform their peers in most states on Advanced Placement tests last year, and the state's huge population of Latino students was a particular bright spot, according to reports issued by the College Board on Wednesday.

Blog: It's a Slow Process, But the United States Is Receiving Some Iraqi Refugees

This is my first day back in the office after spending one month in the Middle East. My visit included 10 days of reporting in Jordan on the schooling opportunities for Iraqi refugee children in that country. There's a possibility that some of the children I interviewed — or children with similar stories— could end up in your school systems. The U.S. Department of State has set a goal of receiving 12,000 Iraqi children and adults in 2008, according to a Nov. 30 article that ran in the Washington Post. That's 12,000 out of an estimated 2.4 million Iraqis who are living outside of Iraq, in countries such as Syria and Jordan.

As Graduation Rates Go Down, School Ratings Go Up

A new study by researchers at Rice University and the University of Texas-Austin finds that Texas' public school accountability system, the model for the national No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), directly contributes to lower graduation rates. Each year Texas public high schools lose at least 135,000 youth prior to graduation — a disproportionate number of whom are African-American, Latino, and English-as-a-second-language (ESL) students.

Writer Pat Mora Encourages Literacy in Two Languages

Bilingual writer Pat Mora has written more than 30 award-winning children's books that incorporate both English and Spanish, several volumes of poetry for young adults and adults, and a memoir that chronicles her experiences of growing up on the Texas-Mexico border. Mora also is the founder of the family literacy initiative El día de los niños/El día de los libros — Children's Day/Book Day — now housed at the American Library Association. The yearlong commitment of linking all children to books, languages, and cultures culminates in celebrations across the country April 30. In this interview with The Olympian, she talks about what inspires her writing, and why poetry and reading are so important for today's youth.

Gilbert District Seeks $2M for English Learner Program

Arizona's Gilbert Unified School District submitted a $2 million budget request to the state last week to fund extra costs associated with a new English Language Learner program. The budget request was filed with the Arizona Department of Education, which in turn plans to forward budget requests from all school districts for ELL programs to the Legislature for consideration later this year. The Legislature is required by law to fund the ELL budget increases. The budget request would cover training, salary, and benefits costs for the projected 33 additional teachers the district needs for the new program, according to a document handed out at the board meeting.

Teaching Indigenous Languages

Utah's state board of education is asking for funding to strengthen the teaching of indigenous languages in schools serving Native American children, according to this Deseret News article. Proponents of the plan say that helping students become proficient in their native languages would help to improve their English reading achievement as well.

SJSU, Districts Help Latinos Prepare for College

At 14 years old, a confident Rosanna Castillo already knows she wants to be an attorney. To achieve her goal, the eighth-grader at Monroe Middle School has focused on getting great grades — anything short of an "A" is unacceptable. Saturday she learned the additional steps (from taking college preparatory classes to advanced study techniques) that will help insure her path to college. Castillo was among about 2,800 Latino students from across Santa Clara County who took part in the first Advancing Latina/o Achievement and Success conference at San Jose State University.