Yesterday I heard a presentation by educator Marla Rea about students in Texas who are learning English; she spoke of the many obstacles for these youngsters. Her talk was definitely an eye-opener (an expression that would be difficult for a non-English speaking person to define) regarding education for those who speak little or no English.
Ms. Rea is a doctoral student in bi-lingual education and is dean of instruction for English language learners in Bryan, Texas.
My interest in Marla’s talk increased when she mentioned a book I read a few years ago about a boy named Enrique who came to America to find his mother. Enrique’s mother left her family in Honduras when she came to the United States to have a better life for herself and for her family in Honduras. Although Enrique’s mother regularly sent money to provide for her family, Enrique missed a mother – he missed his mother.
Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazari left an indelible impression on me. Ms. Rea’s talk left an impression on me. Her knowledge and excellent teaching skills, combined with her passion for these children in our country who obviously need to have good English skills, was inspiring.
Ms. Rea conducted research at two literacy programs in Texas on the acquisition of English literacy among U.S. immigrants in Texas. The purpose of her study was to explore the journey to English language literacy, the challenges parents and the children face during the process, and the role reversals that happen during the process and its impact on the children. During the year, Marla participated in several scholarly and academic activities. Overall, Marla continues to make excellent progress towards her doctoral studies, and she is using the knowledge and experiences acquired during the fellowship program to expand literacy programs in the community in her professional role as the director of English Language Literacy Programs with the local independent school district. [Source: Texas Center for the Advancement of Literacy and Learning] In 2008-2009, Ms. Rea was one of three recipients of the Barbara Bush Family Literary Fellowship.
According to the 2000 census, the main languages by number of speakers older than five are:
- English- 215 million
- Spanish- 28 million
- Chinese Languages – 2.0 million + (mostly Cantonese speakers, with a growing group of Mandarin speakers)
- French- 1.6 million
- German- 1.4 million (High German) + German dialects like Hutterite German,Texas German, Pennsylvanian German, Plautdietsch
- Tagalog – 1.2 million + (Most Filipinos may also know other Philippine languages,e.g. Ilokano, Pangasinan, Bikol languages,and Visayan languages)
- Vietnamese – 1.01 million
- Italian- 1.01 million
- Korean- 890,000
- Russian- 710,000
- Polish – 670,000
- Arabic- 610,000
- Portuguese- 560,000
- Japanese – 480,000
- French reole – 450,000 (mostly Louisiana Creole French – 334,500)
- Greek – 370,000
- Hindi – 320,000
- Persian- 310,000
- Urdu- 260,000
- Gujarata- 240,000
- Armenian- 200,000
“Children who speak English as their first language
are now a minority in inner-city London primary schools . . .”
“There are over 600,000 non–English speaking students
in the Texas education system.“