Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Learning two languages, one at a time

This story is about an organization teaching immigrants to first read and write in their native language, Spanish, and then teaching them English. DP

Life in the U.S. can be hard for a new immigrant. It's even more difficult when they can't read or write in their own language. This is a common story for many Latin American immigrants from impoverished backgrounds with little education.

by Ambar Espinoza, Minnesota Public Radio

Minnesota Public Radio: St. Paul, Minn. — In a Minneapolis classroom, Apolinar closely examines the day's newspaper. The words have absolutely no meaning to him. But he's looking at a story with lots of pictures. They tell him it's about a town in his home of Morelos, Mexico. He's excited to tell his teacher and classmate what he sees.

Apolinar is 33 and he's learning to read and write in Spanish. His class is being used for research purposes and all students have been granted anonymity. But Apolinar is letting us use his first name. He says it's hard to get by.

"It's really ugly to not know how to read and write in this country," says Apolinar. "You have to struggle more."

Apolinar's voice is shaky as he tells his story. He moved to Minnesota two years ago. Today, he works for a landscaping company as a gardener. He tears up when he says had to turn down a job promotion because he didn't even know how to spell his name. So he started looking for Spanish literacy classes.

These classes are hard to find. That's because the state and federal governments only give money to adult education programs taught in English. Apolinar found a volunteer tutor through Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES), a nonprofit organization serving the Latino community in the Twin Cities.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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