I walked into Albemarle Road Elementary School the other day and was treated to a beautiful sight. Fifty children of all nationalities and skin colors were sitting in small groups. Shy smiles and bright eyes lit up their faces, as they played, colored, and practiced their way toward better English. An equally diverse group of college student tutors sat with each cluster of children, offering encouragement and calling each child by name as they huddled over a vocabulary game.
International House's free summer English tutoring program is impacting the lives of these children in a critical way. Immigrant children who attend CMS schools often lose language proficiency over the summer when they are at home with non-English speaking family members. This means they start a new school year at a disadvantage, as they are academically behind their classmates.
Here in Charlotte, all students who speak a language at home other than English enroll in CMS schools through the CMS International Center. The Center has compiled some interesting statistics that are worth consideration:
1) The number of language minority students in the CMS school system is at an all time high of 27,675 individuals.
2) Students from 159 different countries attend CMS, and there are 162 languages spoken by students in Charlotte schools.
3) The top languages (other than English) are Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, French, Chinese and Russian.
4) There are 16,065 Limited English Proficient (LEP) students enrolled in CMS for 2011.
5) Research shows it takes four to seven years to learn academic English, the level necessary to perform on par academically with fluent English speakers.
International House has partnered with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in the creation and delivery of Youth ETP. Funding has been provided through the generosity of the Wells Fargo and Levine Foundations. Through a coordinated strategy, teachers assisted International House staff and volunteers with publicity and recruitment efforts so that families feel confident that their children are receiving an excellent program on familiar ground. In this way, we are reaching many children who need a little extra help to succeed.
Learning to speak, read and write in English is critical to student success, and the Youth English Tutoring Program is a great way to help children from refugee and immigrant families become more comfortable and better integrated into their new communities. We do pre- and post- assessment tests that provide powerful statistics about student improvement. However, in my view, the best evidence of a great program is the sight of 50 smiling faces every morning. Better than a sunrise!
By Denise Long - Executive Director
Article by Masonya Bennett, International House Tutor
You may think of ESL tutoring as a waste of summer free time, but you won't find a group of bored, sluggish kids at International House's summer Youth English Tutoring Program. At Albemarle Road Elementary, students begin the day with a hearty breakfast provided by the school. After breakfast, YETP participants gather in the multi-purpose room where they get energized and ready for the day as if they need extra energy! The real fun begins when the kids separate into groups headed by a trained ESL tutor. Read More ..
The students are divided into groups of four to six according to grade level; this way the children are guaranteed receive the specific attention they need. Tutors use text books, arts and crafts, and educational activities and games that engage students in language learning. Many tutors begin lessons with games such as 'Who Am I?,' in which students act as characters from books, movies, and TV shows. Activities like this capture the children's imagination and spark conversation. Discussing culture and family leads to further appreciation and understanding of each other's background. From dynamic conversation and exciting games, students continue their lessons with activities to improve reading, phonics, grammar and writing.
After three hours of fun and intensive learning, students conclude the day with a healthy lunch. Anyone who says summer learning is boring hasn't spent a day with International House's students and tutors!