Tuesday, July 27, 2004

ESL students thriving under reforms

"There's still work to do, but Metro is producing more of these success stories after revamping its ESL program over the past three years under coordinator Sayra Hughes."

"Community organizer Dante Roa can remember when easily explained situations often caused friction among Metro's teachers and ESL students."

"'The teachers … thought (students) were misbehaving. But the reason was that they didn't understand what was going on and they were asking some of their friends to interpret what the teacher was saying,' said Roa, a retired professor who works with Bienvenidos, a nonprofit group for new Hispanic residents."

"'I see that the schools are doing much better in trying to teach our youngsters, our Hispanic and non-English-speaking children,' Roa said."

"'The numbers speak for themselves,' Hughes said. 'Before, the students at the elementary grade levels would get 30 minutes to one hour of instruction a day. Now they're receiving 7½ hours a day. The number of exited students from year to year has completely doubled.'"

"ESL teachers aren't required to speak all of the languages of their students. Instead, they use special techniques to make English and other subjects easier to learn."

The Tennessean

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