Monday, July 31, 2006

Plural benefits of bilingual education

These schools are teaching American kids to be bilingual. They will benefit from this all their lives. DP

By Domenico Maceri `WE know two languages. We can have friends that speak Spanish or English," stated 8-year-old Chloe McEnfarffer, a student in a dual language school in Oregon.

Chloe is smart far beyond her age. Although the United States has an ambiguous relationship with bilingualism, the value of knowing two or more languages is gaining strength.

It's happening in the increase of dual language schools, which teach all subjects in two languages, typically Spanish and English, but sometimes Chinese and English, Japanese and English, and other combinations.

Although the number of dual language programs is a small fraction of American schools, every time a new program is set up there are long lines of parents who want to enroll their kids.

The advantages of a bilingual education are becoming apparent to more and more Americans. As the world continues to get smaller, the realization that two languages can do more for the future becomes increasingly a reality.

Research supports the advantages to bilingualism. Bilingual children develop a mental agility which monolingual ones lack. That's what Laura-Ann Petitto, a researcher at Dartmouth University, revealed in a study published a few years ago. Bilingual children can perform certain cognitive tasks more accurately than monolinguals. They are also more creative, better at problem-solving, and also score higher on literacy tests.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Tulsa Hispanic Group To Work To Get Immigrants To Register To Vote

This is the only way they can speak for themselves. DP A Tulsa Hispanic group wants to recruit new voters out from the ranks of immigrants - by having them registered to vote.

Tulsa's "American Dream Coalition" wants to make sure all new citizens do the paperwork so they can vote. The group estimates 5,000 immigrants in Tulsa are now eligible to vote - but haven't registered.

The group wants them voting so they can have a say on immigration policy. Rev. Victor Orta with the American Dream Coalition: "Those of you who are qualified to become citizens, become a citizen and you can help us do something about it, you can, your vote is going to count, so become a citizen and vote."

The group plans a series of events to identify immigrants and help them register.

It's part of a national effort to register one million new Hispanic voters in time for the 2008 election.

Schools teaching immigrant parents how to be more involved

These parents are learning how important it is for them to be involved in their children's education and schools. DP

written by: Nelson Garcia, Reporter AURORA - While their students enjoy the summer break, parents come to class at Kenton Elementary to learn English, American history, and how school actually works.

"One thing is to let parents know how we teach at school," said Lee Ann Gott, Kenton's Parent Involvement coordinator. "It takes an effort on the part of the school, to make people feel comfortable to come to the school."

Often, immigrant families don't get involved with school. Some blame the language barrier. Other say they don't trust the education system.

Gott said, "In order to get parents and families and the community more involved in the school, we need to find out what they need."

Gott's class is designed for parents who don't speak English. In addition to teaching them the language, she lets parents know what they can do to help their kids with the homework, how to deal with parent-teacher conferences, and how they can help with after-school activities.

"I'm more fluent," said Victoria Silva, who two children at Kenton and has taken the parent class for four weeks. "I try to learn a little more to help them in school."

"Yes, it's very important for me to learn English, so that I can help my children in school," said Fernando Adrian Rivera.

Rivera spoke using a translator, but he said his English is getting better. "Yes, it is very difficult, but very worthwhile," he said.

Aurora School District officials know that some of the parents enrolled may be illegal immigrants. However, under federal law, they are not allowed to ask because school services must be provided to anyone who comes to the public school district.

Besides, Gott said their goal is to create more productive parents, and it is working. "We have a lot of parents involved here at Kenton," she said. "It's so important. It's immensely important and it makes a huge difference in student achievement."

Silva said, "I'm comfortable talking to the teacher and asking about my children, how they are, how they learn."

"Yes, it's very comforting for me," Rivera said. "It's comfortable for me to understand and communicate with teachers."

Catholic-run centers swamped with immigrants wanting to learn English

These classes are an indication of how many immigrants are realizing that learning English is the most important thing they have to do to succeed in this country. DP

By Father William Ayres, Catholic News Service (

CatholicOnline: PHILADELPHIA - As the debate over U.S. immigration policies continues to rage in the nation's capital, Catholic-run centers in Philadelphia that teach English as a second language are struggling to meet the demand of immigrants determined to learn it.

A survey released by the Pew Hispanic Center June 7 showed that 57 percent of Latino immigrants feel it is necessary to learn English to be part of American society. Further, 92 percent of Latinos believe it is very important that the children of immigrants be taught English, the study found.

And that percentage reaches 96 percent when only foreign-born Latinos are surveyed -- a higher percentage than whites (87 percent) or blacks (83 percent) who believe it.

The experience of the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Philadelphia bear out those numbers.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary Literacy Center has two campuses, at Incarnation of Our Lord Parish and St. Francis de Sales Parish. The Sisters of St. Joseph run the Welcome Center, a block from Ascension of Our Lord Church in Philadelphia.
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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bridging Asian cultures

The Asian American Society is trying to unite Asians from all their countries and also help other immigrant groups in this country. DP

New head of regional Asian American Society seeks to raise awareness

BY ROBIN FARMER, TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Uniting Asians from more than 18 nations and increasing activities that "build bridges" are among the goals of the new chairman of the Asian American Society of Central Virginia.

"The Pakistanis may not know about the Filipinos, and they may not know about the Chinese," said Rumy Mohta.

"And the Asians may not know a lot about non-Asians," said Mohta, who was among six officers elected to two-year terms for the nonprofit charitable organization whose mission includes educating the public about Asian culture.

"There is a lot of stereotyping and fears and unknowns among the groups and outside of the groups. For example, many Koreans and Chinese mistrust the African-Americans. It's unfortunate," he said.

The AASoCV represents families from 18 communities, including the Bangladeshi, Cambodian, Thai and Vietnamese.
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Sunday, July 23, 2006

English language skills wanted

These students all understand how important it is to learn English, so they can get ahead in this country. DP

Immigrants face a long wait for classes that lead to opportunity -- and more respect


The Providence Journal: Street. Tree. Three.

The 14 students in Scarlett Riservato's English as a Second Language class at Progreso Latino in Central Falls work on sounding out the differences in these English words. They practice making these words roll off their tongue naturally. It's a high school Spanish class in reverse, but everyone is paying close attention, because the stakes are different.

For Henry Monterroza, 17 and recently arrived from El Salvador, who said he planned to go to high school here in the fall, this class means getting an opportunity he would never have had back home. That reality is clear with every movement of Monterroza's pen as he furiously writes down what Riservato is saying.

These students are not studying for a grade. They are studying to be able to interact, communicate and work in a society where speaking English, they said, means the difference between being a respected member of society and a second-class citizen.

Most of these students, all from Latin America or Cape Verde, have lived in the United States for some time, and it is clear that it's easier for them to turn English words into Spanish or Portuguese than to go the other way. They also learn harder lessons, such as how to use American expressions and strange American words.

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'It's a pipeline'

The Future Bilingual Teachers Academy is training young students to become bilingual teachers. DP

UNT offers a summer camp with the aim of cultivating the talents of young people who want to become bilingual teachers

By DIANE SMITH, STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER Sam Munoz helped teach his younger siblings English.

The 18-year-old has long been his father's editor, checking the spelling and grammar of the lumber supervisor's work-related papers.

"I was fluent since I was little," Munoz said, explaining that he wants to use his talents in bilingual education classrooms. "I understood everything going on around me in Spanish or English."

Every year, an average of 20,000 limited English proficient, students enroll in Texas schools, fueling a demand for qualified bilingual education and English as a second language teachers. At the University of North Texas, experts are hoping to fill the need for bilingual teachers by cultivating the talents of 24 young wannabe teachers like Munoz, young people who come from bilingual families or who were bilingual education students.

"It's a pipeline," said M. Jean Keller, dean of the University of North Texas College of Education. "We want to keep creating dynamic teachers."

The Future Bilingual Teachers Academy gives recent high school graduates, juniors and seniors a sense of what it takes to become ESL teachers, while at the same time, motivating the students to follow through with their higher education goals.
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Group to honor 3 immigrants at celebration

A man from Italy, another from Vietnam and a woman from India: all U.S. citizens, all important members of their communities in Iowa, all honored for their work. DP

The transplants have each contributed to their communities


One is an Italian man who was an exchange student at Hoover High School in 1975 and now runs a subsidiary of an international manufacturing company. Another became the first woman of Indian descent to win a state Legislature seat. And a third fled Laos during the Vietnam War, landed in Iowa and became a refugee caseworker.

The Iowa Council for International Understanding will honor all three Iowans — Luca Berrone, Swati Dandekar and Wangmeng Sayaxang Lee — in September at its 2006 Passport to Prosperity: A Celebration of Iowa’s Immigrants and Refugees dinner.

Nominees for the honor, which is in its fifth year, must be immigrants or refugees who have lived in Iowa for at least five years and have made a significant contribution to the community.

“It brings together three people who have done great things since arriving in Iowa,” said Tim Belay, international programs manager for the council.

“The three people who are being honored this year are such outstanding leaders in different ways.”
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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Immigrants Pave Way with Taxes

An interesting story about the billions of dollars legal and illegal immigrants pay in taxes each year. DP

Immigrants - both legal and illegal - are paying billions in taxes
By Scott J. Krischke

The Connection Newspapers: Every day at 5:30 a.m., Cesar, a Herndon resident who was born in Peru, wakes up, puts his clothes on and spends the day trying to find work.

“I can usually only work for a day or a week at a time, and what I’m working on is varied,” Cesar said. “Sometimes I’ll paint a house, I’ll put in a floor somewhere, I’ll work on a construction crew. It might last 15 days or it might last a month, but I go out and find what I can.”

Cesar is an undocumented immigrant who arrived in Herndon via the U.S. border with Mexico about two and a half years ago to seek better opportunities to make money for his family. He estimates that he makes between $400 and $500 a week on average.

This year, Cesar joined the ranks of taxpaying residents by filing with the Internal Revenue Service to pay his share of the federal and state income tax.

According to a recent Urban Institute study, immigrants living in Fairfax County, regardless of their legal residency status, contributed $3.2 billion in taxes in 1999 and 2000. This amounts to nearly a quarter of the total taxes paid by Fairfax residents.

“When I first came here, I didn’t know what taxes were … so I didn’t pay anything at first,” Cesar said. After learning that all workers in the United States are required to pay taxes, “I realized that I needed to pay them as well. It’s a way of being. You have to follow the rules, the law doesn’t discriminate when it comes to your legal status.”

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Monday, July 10, 2006

69 immigrants become citizens at Monticello

New citizens remind us how lucky we are. DP

By Jay Warren / WSLS NewsChannel 10

WSLS NewsChannel 10: Their names represent a rich tapestry of different cultures and nationalities. This July fourth, they were all united. They are now called Americans, as 69 immigrants took the oath of citizenship outside Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.

This is the 44th year for the naturalization ceremony at Monticello. And, as it is every year, this Independence Day brings special meaning for the group. Their reasons for coming to America vary. Alma Tamayo Grouix came here from Mexico 15 years ago looking for opportunity.

"Right now I'm a mother of two and I work in a factory," she said. "Hopefully I will become a nurse later."

Others, like Parigul Lloyd from Afghanistan, came here looking for haven. "There was no peace at all." Lloyd escaped her home country after the Taliban killed her husband.

"I just came out with a small bag of clothes that's all," she said. "I left my money in the bank. Everything... house car... everything I left." Now, Lloyd lives in Virginia and is eager to declare her happiness.

"This is a safe place for me and I am proud to be American."

The backdrop of Monticello for today's ceremony was no accident. It's a symbol to these new citizens of the fight for the rights that they now enjoy. And, it's a reminder to the rest of us not to take it for granted.

"Some American people don't know what they have. Some of them do not appreciate," Lloyd said.

It's a strong lesson this July 4th, given to us from our newest citizens.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Haitians seek hope in new home

An interesting story about Haitian immigrants quietly assimilating into American culture. They insist their children get a good education so they never have to experience the poverty their parents lived through. DP

By Joan D. Laguardia

The News-Press: Inside Mission Supermarket near downtown Fort Myers, Haitian women look over oxtail or conch for the evening meal.

South on Fowler Street, men in dark dress pants and bright, white starched shirts slip away from their offices and head for a nearby Haitian restaurant.

In the surrounding neighborhoods, children move easily from English to Creole as they dash by gardens of sugar cane and papaya to tell grandmothers they’re off to play with friends.

“It seems like a lot of Haitians are leaving Miami and moving here. On a daily basis I meet someone who is starting a business or buying a house,” said Pierre Abelard, general manager of Radio Independence, a Creole-language station that reaches about 10,000 listeners.

“Miami is over full, and they feel it is safer to raise their kids here, and it is easier to get a job here,” he said.

In Fort Myers, Immokalee and Golden Gate, an estimated 40,000 Haitians thrive in lively ethnic neighborhoods that echo the beginnings of Little Italy in New York or Chinatown in San Francisco.

However, few people probably notice the heart of Lee County’s Haitian community as they drive through it to downtown Fort Myers.

Most Haitian Americans live in quiet assimilation, learning English, taking full advantage of higher education and buying homes as soon as possible.

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The next generation

The stories of two immigrant families, one from Mexico and one from China, and how the second generation becomes American. DP

By Melissa Flores

The Sunday Pinnacle: When Gabriel Montes, now 24, was born his parents disagreed about what language should be his first. His mother, Teresa, wanted him to speak only English. But his father, Alfredo, wanted him to start out speaking Spanish. In the end, the couple had a Spanish-speaking babysitter so Montes learned his parents' native tongue and knew little English when he went to school.

"For me, English was so hard. I wanted my kids to have a better life," said Teresa, who emigrated from Mexico when she was 17. "I didn't want them to speak Spanish, but my husband said they should speak it."

The struggle over language, an emphasis on education and obligations to family are themes that run through many lives of children born to immigrants or those who immigrated as youngsters. While their families come from different parts of the world, Montes' life is not so different from David Wong, 29, who also grew up in Gilroy. Both men now carry on their shoulders the world their parents left behind and the opportunities created for them.

Work comes first

David Wong's life has been influenced by his parents' experience as immigrants as much as Montes'.

Wong has straight black hair, dark skin and a lean body. But what distinguishes him most from his parents is his height. He towers over them at six feet, a testament to the better nutrition and healthcare he and his brother received in the United States.

He came to the United States from China with his family when he was 3 years old. His parents had relatives in San Francisco. The family settled into a one-bedroom apartment. While his father worked in a tofu factory and his mother sewed, he and his brother were left alone.
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From farmhand to farm owner

A nice story about a farm that is now owned by a migrant worker who worked there for many years. This is happening all over the country, many Latino workers are buying the land from retiring farmers. DP

By Marc Ramirez, Seattle Times staff reporter

The Seattle Times: Not a day goes by that Javier Lopez isn't thankful to have Tom Reinhardt by his side. With late afternoon here, it's time to check on the livestock, and the two head past the workshop where they store tractors and can peaches and into the rolling wedge of pasture that is their backyard.

"¿Estan las vacas acá o allá?" Lopez asks. Are the cows over this way or over that way?

"Creo que estan allá," Reinhardt answers. I believe they're over there.

Over nearly two decades, Lopez, 43, and Reinhardt, 59, have taught each other their native tongues and become the best of friends and neighbors. From Reinhardt, the aspiring Lopez learned a career; in return he gave his mentor, a lifelong bachelor with no kids of his own, a family to feel part of.

"He gave me the opportunity," Lopez says, "to do what I'm doing now."

When the amiable, pragmatic Reinhardt wanted someone to take over the operation he'd struggled to keep alive, he turned to Lopez, his business partner of nearly 10 years — and his one-time foreman and former field hand. Now Lopez owns the 20-acre farm operation, growing organic rhubarb and raspberries on leased land a mile east of Interstate 5 in Nisqually.

Stories like theirs are playing out again and again nationwide, even as small farms struggle and debate rages over who and how many should be entitled to the American Dream.
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Thursday, July 06, 2006

50 Immigrants Become Americans At Ceremony

This tells about a swearing in ceremony for 50 new citizens; from Slovakia, Ghana, China, Peru, Lebanon and others. DP

New Citizens Talk About Helping Others And Learning English

By SARAH MISHKIN, Courant Staff Writer
Hartford Courant: MIDDLETOWN -- Fifty immigrants walked into city hall Friday afternoon and 50 new Americans walked out an hour later.

In a ceremony presided over by federal Judge Stefan Underhill, 50 men and women from 24 countries were sworn in as American citizens. Middletown holds naturalization ceremonies each year before Independence Day. Volunteers from the League of Women Voters were on hand after the ceremony to help the new citizens register to vote.

"Today you become people of the United States and so become the source of all power in our government," Underhill said at the ceremony. "Never shy away from questioning what your government is doing and to make it even better."

A number of the immigrants, most of whom were accompanied by camera-bearing family members, came from Eastern Europe. Others came from countries as diverse as Ghana, China, Peru and Lebanon.

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