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What's a Parent to Do Who Wants to Learn English?


Fernanda Santos writes in an article appearing today in The New York Times about how classes for immigrants to learn English have long waiting lists. She's talking about classes for immigrants who are adults. Those of you out there who work in this field know that all immigrant children, whether documented or undocumented, are entitled by federal law to a free K-12 education in this country. But if immigrants are too old to attend high school, they are on their own to find whatever English classes might be offered by houses of worship, colleges, immigrant advocacy groups, or other institutions in their communities. The shortage of classes for adults means that the parents of many of the English-language learners in the nation's schools might not have a very good chance to learn enough English to step inside a school building with confidence and know they can carry on a conversation with their child's teacher.

I thank This Week in Education for a post that drew my attention to the article.


Hi: I suppose that I might be "speaking out of school' when I say this but, I'm sorry to say, I have issues with anyone new to our country who does not speak English. I look to my grandparents who fled Nazi Europe during WWII & came here! They arrived at Ellis Island with barely a buck between, speaking no English, yet somehow managed to start a thriving business in the Lower East Side of Manhattan! How?

You are right. Many of our families made it through rough times and were very succesfull, but that was in the 40's. Now, with all the new technology and the jobs requiring more from us and parents needing to work two or three jobs to make it in life. It's really hard to make learning English a priority. I think adults want to learn English and they want to be successfull but making sure their kids have supper is a little bit more important.

In response to Elliot's comment, I'm going to assume that his grandparents arrived in the US with a good command of their primary language (both BICS and CALP). This separate underlying proficiency in their primary language assisted in the optimal and efficient acquisition of English, which helped them start their thriving business.

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