New technologies that enable cell phones to translate speech on the fly and read documents for the visually impaired could have important implications for both educators and students. Late last year, NEC Corp. announced the development of an automatic Japanese-to-English speech translation tool for mobile phones sold in Japan. The software is aimed at Japanese travelers abroad, but versions for other languages could one day prove useful for educators and administrators in schools with large populations of English-language learners.
Young public school students in Whatcom County, Washington, don't get class time to learn a foreign language, but two people from Western Washington University think they should. Marsha Riddle Buly, associate professor of Elementary Education, and Trisha Skillman, director of the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program, are spreading the word about bilingual education and its benefits to students, schools and the community.
Students new to English will have two options when taking state tests next year in Illinois' District 214. Students with fewer English skills will be told to attempt each section "until the point of frustration," said Norm Kane, District 214's director of the English Language Learner program. When they no longer understand test questions, they will be told to put down their pencils, Kane said.
As the Mountain View, CA, Whisman School District continues to see a steady increase in English language learners — and a consistent achievement gap among these students — teachers in the district have begun efforts to combat the trend.
[No Child Left Behind] was an ambitious program to improve education without the necessary funding to see it through. But no need to go to Washington for an example. We have one right here in Arizona: the 2006 law that requires school districts to boost services for English language learners (ELL).
Seven boys and girls attend the Arapaho Immersion Preschool in Casper, WY. They're developing a broad Arapaho vocabulary and learning the basics of the language. Once they graduate from preschool, however, and go off to attend public school, they're going to quickly lose everything they've learned, says Jerry Redman, chairman of the Northern Arapaho Council of Elders. As a matter of cold arithmetic, the Arapaho language will be dead in less than three decades if children don't start learning it and using it fluently.
Change is on the horizon for students who are enrolled in the English Language Learners' Program in Malden, MA, Public Schools. In two years' time, Superintendent of Schools Sidney Smith, hopes to have English as a Second Language and Sheltered English Instruction programs concentrated in two Malden K-8 schools.
Tens of thousands of Los Angeles students could be on the brink of being qualified to apply to the state's four-year universities, according to a report made public Monday. The report's authors asserted that huge numbers of students could, with the right advice and academic assistance, become bound for the University of California and Cal State University systems. The bad news is that, in too many cases, they aren't getting this help. In fact, a new software system that would, with a push of a button, provide a status report on a student's college preparation is apparently languishing largely unused, said one of the co-authors of the report.
Latino students in early grades are learning, but they aren't moving much beyond basic skills, spurring an achievement gap that widens compared with peers in later grades. That was a key message from Eugene Garcia, vice president for education partnerships at Arizona State University, who spoke to about 100 students and educators at the University of Northern Colorado last week. Garcia shared statistics revealing that while Latino students of first-, second-, and third-generation U.S. families stay close in achievement with Anglo peers in early grades in math and reading, they begin to tail off by third grade. The third-generation Latinos, however, perform most competitively. Garcia said achievement gaps can drop through better-trained teachers, more involved parents and more investment in pre-kindergarten programs.
Blanca García has heard the complaints about immigrants not learning English, and she agrees. Now, she's enrolled in an English as a second language class for adults at her children's school district. When her children pull out their homework to study after dinner, Mrs. García's right there with them, studying new words and grammar, too. The García family represents a growing segment of the population — immigrants struggling to learn a new language who may often rely on their children to translate for them. Like the Garcías, many parents and children are learning together and, in some cases, being taught by the same teachers.