Monday, October 27, 2008

Teachers challenged in multilingual classrooms

More than 80 languages are spoken by students in this school district, which means many students do not speak Spanish either. These kids are taught in the classrooms and in a variety of ways. They do not have teachers fluent in all these languages and have to get very creative. And they are successful. DP

Aurora schools, where dozens of languages are spoken, take a different approach to teaching English.

By Carlos Illescas, The Denver Post Tagalog, Bangla and Fulfulde.
They might sound like characters from a video game or a cartoon, but they are among the 84 languages from 105 countries spoken in Aurora Public Schools.

The 32,000-student school district, like others throughout Colorado, enrolls an increasing number of students who speak languages other than English or Spanish.
Those students must learn English quickly because they are held to the same standards and requirements as English-speaking students.

In Aurora, there is no translation, no memorization or any of the more traditional ways students are taught English.
So education often becomes theater.

"You pinpoint vocabulary, use visuals, hand gestures showing them how to do something," said Jenny Passchier, principal of Aurora's Park Lane Elementary School, where 64 percent of the students do not speak English as their primary language. "There's a lot of sharing and a lot of talking before they get to writing."
Bweradrik Aisen busily worked on an essay recently about why moving to the United States was a good thing.

The 9-year-old from the Marshall Islands speaks Marshallese as her first language, but less than a year removed from the Micronesian country, Bweradrik was completing the assignment in English.

With the help of an English- language-acquisition instructor, who asked her questions in English, Bweradrik wrote that she likes living in Colorado because "it snows here and not in the Marshall Islands."
Then the two read the essay together.

"You have to put it in context for them," said instructor Carol yn Hernandez. "If you just tell them to memorize something, it's not going to happen."
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

1 comment:

Booyataa said...


Do any of the Fulfulde speakers want a free paper in Fulfulde? See

We mail them free of charge if specifically requested.

Thanks, Jane