For many parents of East Hampton High School students, trying to understand the school's weighted credits system, the rigorous college application process and the dreaded financial aid forms is as difficult as trying to read a foreign language. More than 31 percent of the East Hampton School District's student body is Hispanic, and many of those students' parents speak little English, even if their children are bilingual. As a result it can be even more of a challenge for them to take an active role in their children's education.
Sarra Said can hardly go a day without picking up a book. What's so remarkable about Sarra's love of books is that she couldn't speak a word of English when she and her family arrived in Tucson almost two years ago from Tripoli, Libya. Sarra, whose first language is Arabic, was honored for having read 1,547,525 words, which amounts to more than 40 books, since October at a recent celebration for about 130 English-language learners in Tucson, AZ.
Frustrated trying to learn German through traditional methods of repetition and rote grammar memorization, Allen Stoltzfus spent a year as a college student studying economics at a Germany university. It worked. And Stoltzfus returned to the United States convinced that full immersion was the fastest and most effective way to learn a foreign tongue. That was his inspiration for a firm that would become Rosetta Stone, which last month made its debut as a public company on the New York Stock Exchange.
Berry College sophomore Meredith Smith has been putting her college education to good use for the past two years as a volunteer with the Language and Literacy Center at the Rome-Floyd County Library. Smith got involved in the program through Berry, where she is currently pursuing degrees in psychology and Spanish. She said she sees her volunteering as an opportunity to help others and to also learn something about her future career — which is why her role in the classroom, one night a week, is to act as translator.
Learning the three R's in English and Spanish simultaneously did not come easy to Oscar Martinez at first. Martinez started participating in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district's dual-language program when he was in kindergarten at Pharr Elementary School. Having learned only English at home, Martinez, now 18, found it difficult to understand some of his teachers who would give lessons in Spanish. By sixth grade, however, he could read, write and carry on conversations in his second language. But the most encouraging result for him was that he was finally able to have a conversation in Spanish with his grandfather.
For years, Americans considered a college education the stepping stone to a well-paying job and secure future. But that stepping stone may not be as rock-solid as it once was. Marketplace profiles how California State Long Beach students Hector Torres and Melvin Lopez are dealing with this shift.
President Barack Obama recently announced that he is asking Jill Biden to lead an effort to raise awareness about the nation's community colleges as part of efforts by the administration to make it easier for displaced workers to obtain more education and training. Obama explained Biden's new role as he detailed plans to overhaul the nation's unemployment system.
When Adolfo Avalos looks back at his teen years in Gaithersburg, MD, he can see how much went wrong. There were physical fights, school problems, gang involvement, anger at himself and the world: so much trouble that he finally dropped out. His experiences reflect what community leaders describe as a crisis for many Latino teenagers in Montgomery County, a suburb of Washington, DC.
In her Learning the Language blog, Mary Ann Zehr writes, "Administrators in the Seattle public schools are apparently taking to heart findings in an audit last year that described the district's approach to serving English-language learners as 'ad hoc, incoherent, and directionless.' Veronica Gallardo, who has been the manager of programs for ELLs in the 44,000-student district since July, says the district is planning a major revamping of those programs for next school year."
With one in five people in the U.S. speaking a language other than English when they are at home, Tessa Bent's research into how children perceive so many different varieties of foreign-accented English has never been more timely. Recognizing the importance of understanding how children may or may not overcome foreign-accented speech variables, the National Institutes of Health has made Bent, an assistant professor in the Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, one of the first IU faculty members to receive grant funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.