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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Volunteer Spotlight: John Bachmann teaches English to Syrian refugees

John Bachmann, 55, of Montclair, volunteers two hours every Wednesday evening, teaching English as a Second Language to Syrian refugees at NJ Rebuild's Program (gera-ngo.org/esl), a nonprofit organization based in Wayne. Bachmann has been volunteering since September. The program is sponsored by GERA (Global Emergency Response and Assistance) located in Paterson, (also at gera-ngo.org). The word “gera” means neighbor in Arabic. Bachmann said he is among approximately a half dozen Montclair residents who also give of their time at the program, and that he was inspired to volunteer by his parents' story; they came from West Berlin, Germany and were sponsored by strangers. They spoke very little English. "By the help of people here, they found their way," he says.

Enriching Academic Vocabulary: Strategies for Teaching Tier Two Words to E.L.L. Students

Yes, the vocabulary in New York Times articles can be challenging, and teachers of English language learners may assume it’s too hard for their students. But Larry Ferlazzo, who writes regularly about how he uses The Times in his E.L.L. classroom, has taught with articles on everything from climate change to Valentine’s Day, and he has a few tips to share.

Baltimore Library Project Renovates 14th School Library

Fourteen libraries in the Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) have now been renovated with new designs and furniture, expanded collections, and updated technology as part of a partnership with the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

Massachusetts Law Paves the Way for More Bilingual Education

New legislation has paved the way to allow Massachusetts schools to teach English-language learners in their native language while they learn English. Gov. Charlie Baker signed the legislation that effectively overturns the state's 15-year-old law that eliminated bilingual education from most public schools. With the passage of the Massachusetts law, Arizona is now the only state with English-only immersion education mandates written into law, but the state offers schools more choices.

Celebrated Spanish Author Visits Schools

An award-winning Spanish author whose children’s books have been translated into a dozen languages visited Woodstock schools last week. Margarita del Mazo held storytelling sessions for kindergartners through fifth-graders and conducted workshops for teachers throughout Woodstock School District 200. Del Mazo is the author of popular children’s books, including "No Quiero Ser Rey" ("I Don’t Want to be King") and "Camuñas," both of which she featured during her visit from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.

Opinion: What Will Be the Impact If Congress Taxes Graduate Students?

David Nirenberg is executive vice provost at the University of Chicago. He writes, "A provision in the tax bill that the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed — and that the Senate is still considering — would impose a potentially enormous tax increase on graduate students: as much as a 300 percent tax hike in some cases. If you are not a graduate student, why should you care?  Because although you may not know it, graduate students are a foundation of American economic, scientific and cultural strength, and they lie at the center of the nation’s most powerful engine of discovery in all fields.  If Congress wants tax reform to stimulate the economy, this provision would have the opposite effect."

Spanish-Speaking Parents Have Ally in BPS Program

Lorena Gates, Bellevue Public Schools' parent community liaison, knows how isolating it can be to not speak English. Gates moved to Bellevue from San Diego only knowing Spanish. Her children attended BPS while she learned English and tried to make sense of the school system. It was difficult to do on her own, she said. Now that she's adjusted, Gates wanted to help others transition with Parents Advancing Readiness and Educational Success. PADRES is a monthly meeting to support Spanish-speaking families.

Colleges Puzzled by Surge in FAFSA Verification Requests

Colleges and universities are reporting a surge in students being asked to verify information on their federal financial aid applications, a time-consuming process that school officials fear could derail low-income applicants. The Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid said it is aware of the issue and working to fix it. One group that may be adversely affected by the increase is Latino students; Mary Sommers, director of financial aid at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, works with Latino parents in the midst of becoming citizens who are nervous that verification will negatively affect their chances. Though she tries to allay those fears, Sommers is concerned those families might convince their children to consider only schools they can pay for out of pocket, or forgo college altogether.

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