Friday, May 30, 2008

Cupertino, Saratoga preschool, afterschool center starts early to teach kids languages

This preschool center is teaching Mandarin to its children. The parents are learning some too, mainly from the children. When children know more than one language they do better in all classes in school and in their own language. All children should be taught another language, preschoolers learn quickly too. DP

By Crystal Lu, Cupertino Courier Jaya Fernades, born in Malaysia to Indian parents, is picking up Mandarin phrases from her 2-year-old daughter Thea's preschool at the Cupertino branch of the Growing Tree Learning Center.

Growing Tree, comprising a preschool and several after-school programs for K-6 students, also has a branch in Saratoga. Both branches provide bilingual instructions in English and Mandarin.

"I'm learning Mandarin, too, because the teachers here are wonderful. They let me know what they've taught Thea so I can practice with her at home," says Fernandes, who is fluent in English, Malay and an Indian dialect.

Fernandes' husband, Pradeep, who was born in India and raised in Kuwait, speaks a different Indian dialect as well as Arabic, English and Hindi.

The multilingual couple is having their two children learn Mandarin because it's the official language of the world's most populated country and a widely spoken foreign tongue in the Bay Area.

Thea's brother Zain, 6, didn't learn Mandarin in preschool but is now attending a Mandarin after-school program at Growing Tree.

It's common for an English-and-Mandarin preschool to be part of a learning center that offers after-school Mandarin classes for older children. New Concept Chinese School in Sunnyvale is another example.

New Concept was founded in 1993 as a weekend Chinese school. When its affiliated bilingual preschool opened in 2000, all the children enrolled were from Mandarin-speaking families. In 2002, the preschool began to see English-speaking parents. Since then, the number of such parents has been rising, according to Jane Chen, principal of New Concept.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Breaking the language barrier

This ESL class in middle school has written a story about their school and translated and recited it in many different languages onto a DVD. It will be given to new students and should help them feel better in their new school and community. DP

By Dena Pauling BELLEFONTE — Eyad Ghoname, 12, scooted close to the microphone and recited a narrative he helped write about Bellefonte Area Middle School.

Like many of the students in Bellefonte’s English as a Second Language program, Ghoname, a sixth-grader, moved to the area in recent years and is learning more English. But he isn’t forgetting Arabic, his native language. In fact, for this project, his teacher makes use of it.

As his peers listened inside the studio last week, Ghoname translated a DVD into Arabic. Then other students took their turn at the microphone, recording voiceovers in Chinese, Punjabi, Russian and Spanish.

“The more we educate our community about how much diversity can do for our community, the better we are,” said Wanda Garbrick, Bellefonte’s middle and high school ESL teacher. “This is our way to reach out from the kids’ point of view.”

Over the past several months, Ghoname and his peers in the ESL program have been assembling DVDs to help introduce new families to the middle school. The film explains how busing works, what rules must be followed and the types of extracurricular activities available to students.

The many languages in which it is being recorded is a sign of just how diverse this rural community is becoming. Across the state, schools are teaching an increasing number of students with limited English proficiency — the state estimated 43,000 students across the state speak one of 175 different languages.

The DVD is one of the ways Bellefonte is reaching out to new students.

“Depending on who comes in, we will give them a DVD in the language they speak,” said Mike Winger, 17, one of three high school technology students who helped the ESL class make the film.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Nearly Deaf Professor Teaches English Literacy, One Student at a Time

This professor, who is almost deaf, teaches English to immigrants. He teaches each one individually and feels that reading the lips of the students helps to assure they are pronouncing everything correctly. DP

By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN ASHEVILLE, N.C. — After three degrees, after five universities, after 40,000 pupils, and after 84 years, 10 months and 25 days, John Kuhlman has circumnavigated his way back to the essentials of education: a teacher and a student in a room.

Decades ago, he was a student, the 6-year-old son of a wheat farmer in eastern Washington, going to a school that fit all 12 grades under a single roof. His earliest memory of academic life is of hiding behind the classroom stove lest he be called upon to wash the lunch dishes.

Now, or as close to now as Monday afternoon, Mr. Kuhlman is the teacher, sovereign of a single room in the inconspicuous brick headquarters of an adult English-literacy program here. The adult seated just inches from Mr. Kuhlman, Raul Funes, had come after working an overnight shift doing maintenance at an inn and then attending a morning class at a local technical college. He had been awake for nearly 20 straight hours.

No pedagogical technique explains why Mr. Kuhlman sat so close to Mr. Funes, or why he peered so insistently into his student’s face. Forty years ago, while he was a charismatic professor of economics at the University of Missouri, Mr. Kuhlman had begun inexplicably to lose his hearing.

With a cochlear implant to capture sound and a practiced skill at reading lips, translating the random noise into words, he had since learned to converse face to face, particularly in quiet settings like his tutoring room.

“A deaf person, a person with damaged hearing, is exactly like a Spanish speaker or a Chinese speaker in a room full of English speakers,” Mr. Kuhlman put it. “If I’m in a room for a cocktail party, I can hear everything, but I can’t understand a word. So I’m pretty good at understanding their problem. I’ve got empathy, sympathy, patience.”
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Study: Loss of illegal immigrants would cripple economy

Another study showing we need immigrant reform so we have enough workers, especially for the lower paying jobs. DP

By JENALIA MORENO, Houston Chronicle Eliminating illegal immigrants would cripple the national economy, according to a study backed by Houston business leaders.

Kicking the 8.1 million undocumented immigrants who work as bus boys, landscapers and other jobs out of the country would cost nearly $1.8 trillion in annual spending, the study by the Perryman Group said.

Texas would be the second-hardest hit state after California if the state's 1.2 million undocumented workers disappeared, the study said, removing $220.7 billion in spending within the Lone Star State.

The study was released Monday by the Americans for Immigration Reform, a group spearheaded by the Greater Houston Partnership.

The group hopes to convince politicians and the public that the nation's immigration laws must be changed. It plans to raise $12 million by December to campaign for immigration reform and so far has raised about 10 percent of that goal in pledges.

Local business leaders want an immigration reform plan that would give employers a way to hire immigrants legally.

"We need comprehensive reform that looks at our needs and addresses those needs," said Ray Perryman, president of Waco-based Perryman Group.

Perryman said that many with the nation's baby boomers retiring and a low unemployment rate, undocumented immigrants perform the jobs other American workers could not.

Although Congress has not passed an immigration reform bill, Americans continue to debate the issue.

Groups like the Washington, D.C.-based Federation for American Immigration Reform support restricting immigration and disagree with the argument that Americans won't do the jobs immigrants do.

"In many cases, there were people doing the jobs before the illegal immigrants showed up," said Ira Mehlman, national media director for the federation. "In many cases, these are just subsidized jobs because the employer can get away with whatever he's paying."

A 2007 report by that organization indicate said the costs of education health care and incarceration of undocumented immigrants in six states including Texas exceeds $27 billion annually.

Local African residents talk of challenges, opportunities

These African immigrants living in Minnesota now, met and explained the struggles they are having in the U.S. Language problems, skills, work history, all are problems they have to solve. DP

By Carolyn Lange, West Central Tribune WILLMAR — The African men who sat around tables Sunday afternoon in the basement of the First Presbyterian Church talked about the challenges of finding enough work in Willmar.

Many don’t speak English, don’t have computer skills and don’t have a work history to serve as credentials to get high-paying jobs, they lamented.

Without those tools, they said, it’s difficult to do what they so desperately want to do — work.

Hosted by the African Development Center of Minnesota, the immigrants came to the meeting by to discuss community concerns, answer a needs assessment and hear about options for home ownership.

“This is the future of your community,” said Hussein Samatar, executive director of the African Development Center, who invited the participants to talk openly about their goals and the barriers that are in the way.

Speaking in their native language and translated for the benefit of the three English speakers in the room, the men asked Mayor Les Heitke how they could find homes big enough for their large families, yet affordable on their low wages.

One former U.S.-sponsored refugee from East Africa got a laugh from the crowd when he said the U.S. government should’ve told him ahead of time that low-income homes and rental properties here were only built for families with two kids. He and his wife have eight children.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Choices to make on immigration policy

This study shows that immigrants are assimilating at the same rate as they did 100 years ago, except for Mexican immigrants. Immigration reform will have to address this problem. DP

By Jacob Vigdo Are today's immigrants having a harder time blending into society than their predecessors of a century ago? This question is central to the current immigration policy debate, but the answers we hear often rely on personal anecdotes or subjective opinion. The first annual Index of Immigrant Assimilation issued this week by the Manhattan Institute, which uses US Census data to assess the progress of immigrants since the early 20th century, offers us some answers. To judge from this research (of which I am the author), the news is both good and bad.

The newly arrived immigrants of 2006 bear much resemblance to the newly arrived Italian, Greek, and Polish immigrants of 1910. These immigrants are quite distinct from the native-born population because they speak English relatively poorly and tend to occupy lower rungs on the socioeconomic ladder. Yet the immigrants of a century ago, and many groups of immigrants today, make quick progress as they spend more time here - advancing economically, and becoming naturalized citizens. In addition, their children are in most ways nearly indistinguishable from native-born children.

However, the set of immigrant groups making substantial progress today excludes the largest group: the 11-million-plus natives of Mexico, who are at the heart of most immigration policy debates. In contrast with more successful groups from Asia, the Caribbean, and other parts of Latin America, Mexican immigrants struggle to make progress.

This strong contrast poses a number of questions, some obvious and others not.

Why haven't Mexicans made progress comparable to other groups? There are several factors. Mexicans' incentives to assimilate fully into US society are low, particularly relative to politically motivated immigrants from countries such as Cuba and Vietnam. Many have strong expectations of returning to Mexico. Moreover, a strong network of Spanish-speaking immigrants exists in most major American cities, reducing the need for Mexican immigrants to learn English in order to survive.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Working overtime to learn English

Another story about how hard immigrants work to learn English, knowing how important it is. DP

By Nick Jimenez A friend recommended someone to us when we said we needed a good reliable worker who could help us redo part of the Jimenez homestead. Our little project required someone who knew a little bit of carpentry, who could strip wallpaper, do wall repairs and a nice paint job. It was not enough of a job to call in the contractor armies, but enough to keep somebody busy for a couple of days.

The workman, when he came, -- his name is Salvador -- said he was ready to do the job, with one qualifier. On Tuesday, he had to leave early in the afternoon. Why? Because he had to go to English classes. He was faithfully attending classes to learn English at night to improve himself.

Hundreds of adults attend the classes each day and night. They are housewives, construction workers, oilfield roustabouts, domestic employees, small business owners and even a few attorneys and engineers. Over the course of a year, perhaps 1,000 people go through the classes. On any given night, some 130 students attend the four ESL classes. These are adults with a real purpose for learning, says Betty Trigo, evening supervisor at the Adult Learning Center. "Their yearning to learn is so different," she said, from younger students.

For the most part, they are Mexican immigrants, but there are some Indian, a few Russian and Colombian and immigrants from other parts of Latin America. Like any other part of the public schools, federal law prohibits asking students their citizenship. But you don't have to be a detective to figure out things. Trigo said that one class day only one student showed up because the rumor mill stirred up a story that immigration officers were planning to raid the campus.

These classes are a boon for these students and for Corpus Christi. We hear talk about "educating the workforce" in Corpus Christi as a way of improving the local prospects. These classes which teach English, reading and writing to adults who are holding jobs, raising families and paying taxes are in the front lines of "educating the workforce." And these are people who understand the value of speaking English.

"They know that to do better at work they need to converse in the English language," Trigo said. Some run successful businesses, or are in well-paying jobs but they have now risen to a level where their limited English language skills are restricting their progress. "They need to talk to their peers in English."

For non-English speaking parents, the lack of the language means they have trouble helping their kids with their school work. So that motivates many to attend the ESL classes.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Immigrants’ Children Find Better Lives, Study Shows

Adult children of immigrants in New York are assimilating quickly and outperforming their parents and some native Americans. DP

By SEWELL CHAN A decade-long study of adult children of immigrants to the New York region has concluded that they are rapidly entering the mainstream and doing better than their parents in terms of education and earnings — even outperforming native-born Americans in many cases.

But the study also warned of problems that could block upward mobility for members of the “second generation,” including persistent poverty and poor school performance among Dominicans and racial discrimination against black immigrants from the Caribbean.

The results of the $2 million study are detailed in “Inheriting the City: The Children of Immigrants Come of Age,” published this month by Harvard University Press and the Russell Sage Foundation, which finances social science research.

It focused on five groups: Dominicans, Chinese, Russian Jews, South Americans (consisting of Colombians, Ecuadoreans and Peruvians) and West Indians, defined as immigrants from the English-speaking Caribbean, including Belize and Guyana. The researchers also interviewed native-born whites, blacks and Puerto Ricans (those born on the mainland) in the New York area for comparison purposes.

The study identified broad similarities among adult children of immigrants. They were overwhelmingly fluent in English; were less occupationally segregated than their parents; lived longer with their parents than native-born Americans; and were firmly rooted in the United States, with fewer personal and financial ties to their ancestral homeland than their parents.

The study was based on 3,415 telephone interviews conducted between 1998 and 2000; 333 face-to-face follow-up interviews in 2000 and 2001; and a final round of 172 follow-up interviews in 2002 and 2003. The subjects of the study were 18 to 32 at the time of the initial interviews and were either born in the United States to at least one immigrant parent, or arrived in the United States by age 12. The study covered 10 counties: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Westchester and Nassau in New York and Essex, Hudson, Passaic and Union in New Jersey.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

County's growing Asian community draws little attention

People from at least 13 nations in the Asia Pacific region make up the Asian community in WV. They are happily fitting into life and schools and becoming Americans. DP

By Julia Torres Barden CONTRIBUTING WRITER For Chesterfield's growing Asian community, it's not about standing out but fitting in. While Hispanics have garnered much attention as the county deals with issues related to illegal immigration, language barriers and assimilation, the Asian community has mostly gone unnoticed, as evidenced by the few activities planned for May's annual Asian Pacific American Month celebration.

"It's not that different being Asian," says county third-grader Quan Chau when asked to reflect on his Vietnamese heritage. "We're not treated differently, and that's good, because I really don't like segregation."

"My school doesn't do anything to celebrate [Asian Pacific American Month]," continued Quan. "I guess [that's] because there aren't any Asians who are important."

Ironically, the man who stood next to Quan - his father, Thanh Chau - made history in 1980, becoming a survivor of the Vietnamese Boat People exodus when he and his 11- year-old brother were frantically put on a boat by their parents to escape the brutal Communist regime. Chau immigrated to America, graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and is now a successful software manager.

Quan's words struck a chord with Chau and prompted him to refute his son's statement with some goodnatured humor. "What about me? Aren't I important?"

Chesterfield's Asian population continues to increase at a slow but steady rate. According to the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, the U.S. Census Bureau's annual estimate in 2006 reported 8,830 residents of Asian descent, comprising 3 percent of the county's total population as compared to 2.4 percent in the 2000 census.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

California's Got a Heavy Stake in Integrating Immigrants

Immigrant voters can be very important in this election and all future elections. It is good that they are interested and understand the importance of voting. DP

In California, potential new voters from immigrant families could have a large electoral voice in both Republican and Democratic districts.

By Daranee Petzod, New American Media Editor's Note: Immigrants and their children will radically alter future elections in California, says a new study. The imperative now is a good integration policy, says Daranee Petzod, Executive Director of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR). Immigration Matters regularly features the views of the nation's leading immigrant rights advocates.

Immigrants and their children could play a pivotal role in future California elections. Despite public misconceptions to the contrary, the overwhelming majority of California's 6.5 million foreign-born residents are either already citizens, or eligible to naturalize and vote. These immigrants and their 1.2 million U.S.-citizen children could represent close to a third of the state's potential voters by 2012.

These are the findings of a recently released demographic study commissioned by Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR). One of the most striking findings of the GCIR study is that nearly half of California's youth who will become eligible to vote by 2012 have at least one immigrant parent. These young people have close ties to the immigrant experience and their natural interest in issues affecting immigrant families will likely shape their vote.

Huber Trenado, a 19-year-old East Oakland native, is one such young voter. Huber currently attends UC Berkeley on a Fulbright Scholarship funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. His parents can't vote, and only some of his adult siblings are registered. Huber told me, "I vote because it's important to me, my family and my community. Not all of us can vote, so I do it for them."
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Immigrants are adapting faster to U.S., but Mexicans lag economically, study says

An interesting report. Immigrants have always taken a couple generations to assimilate, it is good to know the present ones are doing better. DP Modern-day immigrants are assimilating faster than past generations, even though they tend to arrive with fewer English skills, says a study issued today by the Manhattan Institute. The study was written by Jacob Vigdor, a professor of public policy and economics at Duke University.

"This is something unprecedented in U.S. history," Vigdor said. "It shows that the nation's capacity to assimilate new immigrants is strong."

A possible explanation, Vigdor said, was that the economic expansion of the 1990s created more job opportunities at all levels, speeding the economic integration of immigrants. It could also be that because today's immigrants begin at such a low starting point, "it's easier to make progress to the next level up" of integration than it would be if the immigrant had to improve on an already high level of integration. (Washington Post).

According to the study, the gap in economic and civic assimilation rates between native-born and foreign populations in the United States is particularly large for Mexicans, as also reflected by a study of Latina women released last week -- see the La Plaza post here. However, the report notes, Mexican immigrants "have increased their rate of cultural assimilation." (See this La Plaza post on a related topic.) Other immigrant groups assimilate more rapidly economically than they do culturally.

Here's what Vigdor had to say about that in the report's executive summary:
Immigrants from Vietnam, Cuba and the Philippines enjoy some of the highest rates of assimilation. However, these groups assimilate more rapidly in some respects than others. For example, they are far more assimilated economically than they are culturally. Curiously, all of the countries mentioned have experienced U.S. military occupation.

Mexican immigrants experience very low rates of economic and civic assimilation. Immigrants born in Mexico, particularly those living and working in the United States illegally, lie at the heart of many current debates over immigration policy. The assimilation index shows that immigrants from Mexico are very distinct from the native-born upon arrival and assimilate slowly over time. The slow rates of economic and civic assimilation set Mexicans apart from other immigrants, and may reflect the fact that the large numbers of Mexican immigrants residing in the United States illegally have few opportunities to advance themselves along these dimensions.

Mexican immigrants experience relatively normal rates of cultural assimilation. Recent cohorts of Mexican immigrants have increased their rate of cultural assimilation just as immigrants born in other nations have done.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

City Of Frederick Plays Host To Pangaea Festival

We should all celebrate our citizens' different backgrounds like this city did. DP

Reported by: Nikki Burdine FREDERICK COUNTY, MD - The city of Frederick is home to people from different backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs.

The Pangaea festival brought everyone together to celebrate as one. Anam Siddiqui is from Pakistan, and she wants to educate the people of Frederick about her heritage.

"I want them to see the beauty of it. Mostly you think of the Middle East, you think of South Asia and you think usually think of sad things because a lot of sad things have been happening there lately, but if you look around there’s so much color there’s so much beauty and there’s so much diversity," said Anam Siddiqui, Celebrating Pangaea Frederick.

And, so does Cheryl from the island of Figi.

“How unique we are, how wonderful we are; we are a unique exotic island paradise," said Cheryl Brown-Irava, Celebrating Pangaea Frederick.

The official definition of Pangaea comes from the ancient Greek meaning “entire earth,” and at the Pangaea Festival in Frederick, they hope to unite the many different cultures in our area and bring them together as one.

“Frederick has grown amazingly, and the diversity, I think, is incredible here because you can basically find the world encompassed in Frederick," said Hayden Duke, Pangaea Frederick.

It was more than just dancing, singing and food. It was also a welcoming of new citizens into our area.

“We are celebrating the naturalization of about 100 new U.S. citizens for about 25 countries; some from Sierra Leon, to Trinidad, and Tobago. Just the emotion, you know, the moment they go from being a citizen in their previous country to an American citizen is just amazing," said Duke.

“It is the way of the world, the way of the future, and to promote peace and happiness and understanding and appreciation of the riches and diversity," said Brown-Irava.

"Also, learn more about wanting to know about cultures, because the more you know about other people, the more you like them," said Siddiqui.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tempe teen honored in Time magazine

This Arizona teenager has started Kidstalk, to teach and mentor students who are struggling learning English. She knows how hard it is, since her parents were immigrants from China. DP

by Jennifer Vogel Every parent thinks their child is number one, but one Tempe teen has been named one of the top 25 juniors in the country by Bentley College.

Grace Do just got back from Boston where she enjoyed teen-things like ice cream, socializing, and making new friends. One big difference -- the honor included being featured in Time magazine. Each teen had to be nominated, and each person that was chosen had some effort in making their community a better place. Grace's contribution is language.

"I understand their culture and what they're going through. I've seen my immigrant friends and seen them struggle with English." Grace is a junior at Corona Del Sol high school in Tempe. She's an Arizona native, but her parents were immigrants from China. At home, they speak English and Mandarin, which helped teach Grace a lesson early on. Her father, Ming-Hao Do taught her that to be successful, you need to have language.

With her parents' support, Grace created Kidstalk. "We tutor students of all nationalities. We read with them and depending on their needs, teach them grammar, teach them with whatever they need." Grace and a couple of her friends go to the library on Saturday and spend time with kids helping them with not only the English language, but the culture. She feels schools don't have the time or resources to help the kids who speak Mandarin, Korean, or other foreign languages, so her and her friends are helping teach the youth one word at a time. And it was those contributions that landed her the top 25 honor.

In the future, Grace wants to continue helping her community and work in the field of biomedical research. "I think it's very important to give back and contribute to the search for vaccines and cures."

Filipino English teacher gets award from New York Times

This ESL teacher helps all immigrants learn English, and learn about the lives of the others in their class. Often, the classmates are enemies in their homelands, but he teaches them to be friends, because they are all Americans now. DP

By Kristine L. Alave, Philippine Daily Inquirer There are times when the classroom of Feliciano Jaime “Chito” Atienza, who teaches English to immigrants, seems less of a classroom and more a United Nations peace panel.

In Atienza’s class in Queens, New York, culture-shocked (and sometimes shell-shocked) students who speak zero English not only master a new language, they are also helped by people they consider their enemies back in their motherland.

Atienza, winner of The New York Times 2008 English for Speakers of Other Languages (Esol) Teacher of the Year award, has been teaching English to immigrants for two decades. He recalls one class where Afghans and Russians glared at each other. There were also students, fresh from their war-ravaged Bosnia, who refused to speak to one another.

“The class was divided into two. You can really feel their hatred toward each other,” he says.

With some coaxing, the warring classmates set aside their past grief and became friends. After all, they were Americans now, he reminded them.

Students poured their hearts out to Atienza, the first Filipino and immigrant to receive the award. A Hispanic man lost his job and found a new one thanks to his teacher’s intervention.

More recently, because of Atienza’s class, a Tibetan and a Chinese bonded over the recent clashes in Lhasa. Said the Chinese to the Tibetan, who was worried sick about her family: “I’m sorry.”

These little dramas, played out in Atienza’s classroom in the Queens Library and in the YMCA Center, underscore his ability to reach out to his students. The classroom is not just a place of learning, but also a place for healing.

He is not only their mentor, he is their first friend in a strange land.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

War refugee graduating with degree

This University graduate credits her success and her decision to become a teacher to the principal of her high school. She came here as a 10 year old refugee, struggled with poverty, learned a language, put up with discrimination and bullying and now has graduated with honors. DP

Calls principal ‘inspiration'; she will be a teacher herself

By Kelly Soderlund, The Journal Gazette By the age of 10, Nidzara Sakinovic had already lived with her family of five in a tent made for two, gone a month without food and saw her home destroyed.

Her family fled their home in Bosnia in 1993 to escape the war and spent three years in refugee camps in Croatia. There were times when the Sakinovic family lived with 800 people in a henhouse meant to hold 400 refugees.

There was one month when they ate nothing but chocolate and crackers. That was a welcome reprieve from the month before when there was no food sent to the secret camp. The family of five also spent six months living outside under a grapevine before moving up in the world to a tent made for two.

Sakinovic’s father, Ramo, said the proudest moment of his life was when an American ambassador shook his hand and said “Welcome to the United States.” Ramo Sakinovic will have another proud moment today when his oldest daughter graduates from the University of Saint Francis with a degree in education and special education.

Nidzara Sakinovic, 23, is one of 458 Saint Francis students walking across the stage today during the ceremony, 2 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum. Former National Public Radio journalist and current host on XM Public Radio, Bob Edwards, is the keynote speaker and will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Somali class in St. Cloud inspires connections with immigrants

This class is teaching Somali language to English speaking students, a good way for both groups to learn more about the others. DP

By Mackenzie Ryan, st. cloud times In a sparsely filled room at the American Red Cross, Abdirahman Muhumed looks at a lesson plan he wrote on the back of a sheet of paper.

There are no books in this class. No prepared worksheets. As far as Muhumed can tell, the Somali language has only been translated in textbooks one way — from Somali to English.

So to teach his English-speaking students Somali takes some improvising.

Muhumed started the class in January because language, he said, is key to communication, understanding and trust.

He hopes the class, which has about 15 students, will help bring together the Somali community and area residents.

And he hopes it will grow.

"America is our community now," Muhumed said. "We want to be able to understand each other."

Some estimates put the number of Somali immigrants in the region at about 6,000.

Somali children also make up the largest minority population in the 9,300-student St. Cloud school district. The district had 484 Somali-speaking students in 2006-07.

Many Somali immigrants are taking English as a Second Language courses. But learning English is especially hard for some, including Somali elders or those without an education.

In a way, the Somali language class is a chance to meet Somali residents half-way.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

ESL advances will help future

This school district in California, changed their ESL program and are very successful. Hundreds of students have been reclassified from English learners to English speakers. DP

By Editorial staff IIllegal immigration is often blamed for having drastic effects on the loca economy and especially the school system

The children of immigrants often have parents whose first language is not English and who do not speak it at home. Parents can’t read to their children in English or help with reading homework, as native speakers can.

From the start, children who speak English as a second language begin their education with a marked disadvantage that native speakers don’t have.

Such was the norm in Newport-Mesa schools for many years. The large influx of Spanish-speaking or ESL children taxed the educational resources, mostly in the predominantly Latino Westside of town. The result was weaker test scores and school standings.

But the district addressed the problem by creating a program specifically for English-language learners.

Led by program director Karen Kendall, the efforts to boost English language learning in Newport-Mesa schools has been, by all accounts, a roaring success.

Hundreds of students have been reclassified from English learners to English speakers. Nearly all district teachers are now qualified to teach English learners.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.