More Utah students will soon have an opportunity to learn languages such as Arabic and Chinese thanks to a last-minute decision by state lawmakers Wednesday night. Just before midnight, the Senate approved House changes to a bill that would put $750,000 toward dual-immersion language programs and language classes. Twenty Utah high schools and junior highs already offer Chinese and Arabic, and the bill, if signed by the governor, would enable another 40 schools to also offer Chinese, Arabic, and Russian. It also would help create 15 elementary school dual-immersion programs in Chinese, Spanish, French, and Navajo.
Two Dual Language schools in New Mexico's Los Lunas district were recently awarded $3,000 each in incentive funds for making Annual Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind program. Both schools run a dual language program in which teachers teach half the day in English and the other half in Spanish, and both schools have a majority of students who are English language learners.
Instead of cutting its budget through staff reductions, the Toronto District School Board recently opted to barely trim its work force of educational assistants while also boosting the number of English as Second Language teachers.
Oregon schools have dramatically changed the way they teach English to non-native speakers over the past two years, and the new methods are paying off with more students reaching proficiency, new state figures show. Across the state, nearly 9,000 students passed the state English exam in 2006-07, demonstrating they had reached fluency in reading, writing, and speaking English, up from the fewer than 4,000 students that had reached full proficiency the year before.
More minority and poor students in Denver are being classified as highly gifted under a new system that gives extra credit to children who are economically disadvantaged or nonnative English speakers. Denver Public Schools is trying to fix a disparity in the program that serves its smartest and most talented students — which up until now has drawn mostly white students in a district that is largely Latino.
Arizona public schools districts and charter schools say it will cost $274.6 million to comply with a state requirement that students who aren't proficient in English receive four hours of English instruction per day, separate from their classmates. The Arizona Superintendent of Schools, Tom Horne, announced this week that it will cost $40.6 million. Something doesn't add up.
Radio Arte, a public radio station in the Pilson neighborhood of Chicago, is putting young Latinos' voices on the air. Martin Macias, who is 18, broadcast a commentary, "How to Get My Vote," on Radio Arte that was picked up last month by National Public Radio.
When middle school teacher Robert Ortiz walked into his school's cafeteria Tuesday morning he wasn't expecting a red, white, and blue balloon send-off. Ortiz, who teaches bilingual social studies classes, is a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and has been called for leadership training for the next four months in Georgia and Texas. Then, he plans to return home to Lockport, but he could be called for active duty, serving eight to 18 months.
Spanish-speaking public school students will have to take standardized tests in English beginning Tuesday, after the state rebuffed a last-ditch effort by Chicago Public Schools to delay the testing. Chicago Public Schools chief Arne Duncan blasted the state Monday for moving forward with the Illinois State Achievement Test, even for students who are more fluent in Spanish. State officials have said they have no choice, since federal education officials said that a Spanish-language alternative, the IMAGE test, is not adequate.
English language learners often have trouble improving their vocabulary, leading to reading comprehension difficulties and problems with learning in all academic content areas. Elizabeth Howard is among a group of researchers who think that teaching native Spanish speakers about cognates — words comparable across English and Spanish because of their common Greek or Latin roots — may facilitate the process. Howard, an assistant professor of bilingual education at the University of Connecticut's Department of Curriculum and Instruction, is co-investigator of a four-year study exploring the use of cognates to promote vocabulary development and reading comprehension among native Spanish speaking adolescents.