Diaspora

Springfield Schools expanding ESL program for Spanish, Haitian Creole and French speakers – WYSO

The Springfield City School District is expanding their English as a Second Language program to meet the needs of a rapidly growing immigrant community.
The district is bringing on five ESL teachers, three bilingual teaching assistants, a multicultural outreach specialist and an English Language Learner Curriculum specialist. The district hopes to better serve Spanish, Haitian Creole and French – speaking students.
The district is in partnership with the Clark County Educational Service Center, who is providing some of the staff members. The ESL teachers are all certified in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
Over the past few years, the town of Springfield has seen an explosion in its immigrant population, says Dr. Pam Shay, director of federal programs at the district. She says Springfield has a low cost of living, many job opportunities and a plethora of outreach programs for immigrant families.
As the head of the Family Outreach Connections Department, Shay hopes to engage the whole family, not just the student.
“You can’t be just concerned with the academic portion of a student learning because if their basic needs are not being met, then it’s difficult for them to focus on just education.”
The ESL population went from 270 to now 550 students. Shay says they have students form a wide variety of linguistic backgrounds, like Arabic, Mandarin and even a rare, Mayan language from Guatemala called Mam.
“Our goal is that we don’t want students to be lifelong ESL student,” Shay said. We want them to come in the door in progress so that they’re at a level that they have enough fluency and foundation in English that then they can move right into the English-language classes.”
They are currently planning a bilingual education program for kindergarten through 3rd grade students. They will learn English and Spanish at the same time.

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