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Volume 28, Number 4
July/August 2012

A Comprehensive Approach to Teaching English Language Learners

One district strives to meet a range of academic and emotional needs

 

Last June, a father and his four children arrived at the Dr. James A. Caradonio New Citizens Center in Worcester, Mass. They were refugees from Iraq, where they had been persecuted for their religious beliefs.

They escaped their native land in the middle of the night, leaving behind 271 books that the father, an electrical engineer, had hoped to pass on to his children. They fled first to Syria and then entered the United States as part of a resettlement program. When they first arrived, the father told us that his 13-year-old son used to count bombs as they exploded in their homeland.

These children are among many refugees who arrive in the Worcester Public Schools. In a district with more than 23,000 students, about 32 percent of them (7,300 students) are English language learners (ELLs), including about 8 percent whose education has been significantly interrupted. The major language groups represented are Spanish, Vietnamese, Albanian, Arabic, and Portuguese.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.

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