Igor Perru walked up to the microphone under the glare of the stage lights and began. "Engenheiro," the 12-year-old Newark boy said as he announced his test word in Portuguese before a panel of three judges seated before him. Then he spelled it out. "E-N-G-E-N-H-E-I-R-O." And said it again, "Engenheiro." His spelling — for the "engineer" in English — was on target, giving the sixth-grader at Newark's Lafayette School top honors in the Division A competition during the 30th annual Multilingual Spelling Bee.
For years, children's voices rang out from the playground at the Islamic Saudi Academy in this heavily wooded community about 20 miles west of Washington. But for the last year the campus has been silent as academy officials seek county permission to erect a new classroom building and move hundreds of students from a sister campus on the other end of Virginia's Fairfax County.
Nadim Bolous is one of a kind. Of the 1,141 students at Park View Middle School in Yucaipa, CA, he is believed to be the only one whose first language is Arabic. Most immigrant students who enroll in California public schools are native Spanish speakers, but not all of them. Arabic was the 10th most common language among English language learners statewide. But at Park View Middle School, the fact that it's Nadim's first language makes him unique.
Arabic-language children's publishers have a new book prize: the Etisalat Award for Arab Children's literature, which promises one million dirham ($270,000) to the best Arab children's book of the year. "There is a large trend in the Arab world to translate books from other cultures into Arabic," said Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, founder of the prize. "This is a great way for a child to learn about a different culture. However, there also needs to be some homegrown books that are written and illustrated by Arabs who will be able to interpret the world the way an Arab child sees it."
A muddy field near Reserve Avenue in Roanoke, VA serves as home turf for the William Fleming High School soccer team. This team, with players from 10 countries — including Somalia, Liberia, Haiti and Burundi — came to Roanoke looking for a better life or to escape war, persecution and poverty. Some are lucky enough to live with their parents. Others were sent to stay with relatives and do not know when, or if, they'll get to see their parents again. They picked up a new language and learned how to survive in this strange new country and this strange new school.
Mary Ann Zehr writes this week, "In <em>The New York Times</em> column 'After Deadline', Philip B. Corbett reports that news coverage of Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court has raised some questions about the usage of words such as 'Latino,' 'Hispanic,' and 'immigrant. It's a topic that is relevant to this blog since 68 percent of English-language learners are Spanish-speaking, and teachers and administrators may often be in the position of describing them to others."
The big red banner advertising Leopold Elementary School new dual-language immersion program in Madison, WI has come down from the school's front fence. It's no longer needed — the word is out. Leopold's plan for a kindergarten program next fall for an equal number of native English and Spanish speakers has proven so popular that the school resorted to a lottery to fill the 45 available spots.
Each day of the school year, Thaddeus Hood and his fellow second-graders said the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish. They were among the 300 students at Unidos Dual Language Charter School in Forest Park, GA which teaches at least half its classes in the Spanish language with the goal of making native English and native Spanish speakers bilingual by the time they reach middle school.
The Bridgeport Board of Education's Parent Center has a new home and location. Parent center coordinator Lisa Pavlich said the new facility will allow the center to expand its services, assisting more parents and families of students in the Bridgeport Public Schools. Currently, there are long waiting lists for the center's English as a Second Language (ESL) and the General Educational Development (GED) testing programs.
Nurta Muktar, a 17-year-old refugee of Somali heritage, learned to read this school year at East High School here. It likely wouldn't have happened if East High didn't provide classes in basic reading skills for English-language learners. And the school likely wouldn't have such classes, some teachers here say, if the U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights hadn't forced the Salt Lake City district to bolster its services for English-learners in response to a complaint by a local activist in 2001.