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Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Launches New Educational Resources for Latino Youth

Posted by bububooks on April 30, 2010

I wanted to share something I received from Kirk Whisler’s newsletter at the Latino Print Network regarding some exciting opportunities for Latino youth in America.  Check them out and let us know what you think about them.

For more information on CHCI, click www.chci.org.  I’ve also posted Kirk’s contact information below if you’d like more information about the Latino Print Network.

CHCI logoCHCI Launches New Educational Resources for Latino Youth

For more than 20 years, CHCI’s education clearinghouse has provided critical information to Latino youth, parents, and educators to ensure access to scholarships, internships, fellowships, financial aid, and other opportunities.  Thanks to the support of State Farm Insurance Companies, CHCI is proud to launch updated versions of its very popular publications that help students prepare for college, as well as apply for financial aid and scholarships.

The College Preparatory Kit for High School Students helps students select the right high school courses and prepare for college entrance exams.  There are helpful tips on selecting a college and how to effectively keep track of application deadlines.

The Guide to Applying for Financial Aid & Scholarships provides in-depth information on how to apply for grants, scholarships, federal student loans, work study, and more. This comprehensive guide is a must for any student needing financial assistance to complete his/her higher education.

The Pre-College Planning Checklist for Parents and Middle School Students is a road map for parents and students to work together toward achieving the goal of a higher education.  This document is targeted to Latino parents of sixth to ninth grade students who lack the information and knowledge to assist their children in preparing for college and puts them on the pathway to success.

CHCI’s National Directory of Scholarships, Internships, and Fellowships for Latino Youth, launched in 2008, remains the most popular document at www.chci.org with more than 650,000 downloaded in 2009.

“Hispanics are the largest and youngest minority group with the projected growth of nearly 40 percent over the next two decades and 100 percent by 2040. It is imperative that our future generation of Latino leaders is armed with the necessary education and professional skills to succeed,” said Esther Aguilera, CHCI President & CEO.  “Our founding members envisioned education as the key to success and as the foundation of leadership development.  CHCI is proud to have impacted hundreds of thousands of lives through our education clearinghouse over the years.”

While CHCI is nationally known for its leadership development programs and serving as a pipeline to develop the next generation of Latino leaders, it has provided comprehensive educational and informational resources since 1987. What started with a national hotline and small newsletter to inform the Latino community about higher education opportunities, evolved into an online comprehensive educational clearinghouse in 2001 that continues to be the destination of choice for Latino students looking for information in 2010.

email: kirk@whisler.com
voice: (760) 434-1223
Latino Print Network overall: 760-434-7474
web: www.hm101.com
Podcast: www.mylatinonetwork.com

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NAEYC Themes, Part 5: Value the Home Culture and Language

Posted by bububooks on January 12, 2010

This blog’s theme of valuing the home culture and language complements Themes 2 and 3 nicely.  As Dr. Linda Espinosa stated in her session at NAEYC, “It is crucial that educators understand how best to effectively support the home language so that early literacy can be fostered in the home as well as school.”  Indeed, as I often state, L is for Literacy, not Language.  Development of language and literacy in the home language (or first language) facilitates the development of language and literacy in the second language.

“How can I support development of the home language if I don’t speak it?” you may ask.  Dr. Espinosa contends that pursuing such a feat is not beyond our ability.  For starters, simply having books available in the children’s home language allows the teacher to model respect for other languages and cultures.  Also, one center found that “by valuing young English language learners’ native languages, positive relationship [were] fostered between parents, communities, schools and teachers.” These relationships are important because family support has shown to be crucial in the successful transitions of their children.

Children between ages 5 and 10 are still acquiring the structures of their first language.  Teachers who help parents maintain home language acquisition contribute to a strong family relationship as the children grow.  (Once the children’s English level surpasses that of their parents and if they don’t learn their parent’s native language, how can the family communicate effectively with each other?)

Start with a Strategy

Dr. Eun Kyeong Cho outlined a strategy for working with immigrant children and families who are non-native English speakers.  She states that there are three principles that teachers should try to encompass while recognizing the difficulties teachers face in balancing these with your already numerous responsibilities.

1)   Find ways to enrich the experiences of all students in the class
2)   Utilize the opportunities that diversity and a multicultural environment bring
3)   Meet the needs of individual students and their families as partners of learning

Finally, as with previous recommendations from other NAEYC presenters, Dr. Cho recommends planning an effective strategy.

1)   For the Class: Plan for utilizing instructional methodology and activities to engage the multicultural nature of the class as an asset.
2)   For the Individual: Plan for how to assist individual students who may be having particular challenges adjusting to a new environment and life.
3)   For the Family: Plan for how to engage the Newly Immigrated family in the Newly Immigrated student’s schooling, respecting the family’s cultural norms and values.

Remember the key is to be deliberate, integrative and committed to your strategy!  You can do it and we can help!  Feel free to share on here what has worked for you and/or questions you may have.  Thanks!

Check out below for the sources of this blog:

1) Using standards-based curriculum to support language and literacy development for English-language learners.

Presented by:
Min-hua Chen, Education Specialist, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education;
Vicky Milstein, Principal of Early Education, Brookline Public Schools;
Min-Jen Wu Taylor, Pre-K Teacher, Brookline Public Schools;
James StClair, Kindergarten Teacher, Cambridge Public Schools;
Sandra Christison, Kindergarten Teacher, Boston Public Schools.

They haven’t posted their slides yet, but if they do, it will be available here.

2) Home Language or English?  Implementing program policies and teaching strategies that meet the needs of dual-language learners

Presented by:
John Gunnarson, Napa Valley College.

Click here for his handout.

3) Getting it right for young children from diverse backgrounds: Applying research to improve practice

Presented by:
Dr Linda Espinosa, University of Missouri-Columbia.

She hasn’t posted her slides yet, but if she does, it will be available here.

4) Working with families who have recently immigrated: What teachers need to know and be able to do

Presented by:
Dr. Eun Kyeong Cho, University of New Hampshire

She hasn’t posted her slides yet, but if she does, it will be available here.

5) A multicultural show and tell: Exploring children’s literature through culturally responsive teaching

Presented by:
Sherri Weber, Canisius College
Susan G. Popplewell, University of Central Oklahoma

They haven’t posted their slides yet, but if they do, it will be available here.

6) The role of play in cultural transition: When the culture of the home differs from the mainstream culture of the school

Presented by:
Leah Adams, Eastern Michigan University
Mary E. Earick, Plymouth State University

They haven’t posted their slides yet, but if they do, it will be available here.

Upcoming Blogs under the NAEYC Annual Conference Theme:
Part 6:  Research, Facts and Things to Know about Dual Language Learners

Previous Blogs under the NAEYC Annual Conference Theme:
Part 1:  NAEYC Themes, Part 1: Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan’s Presentation
Part 2:  NAEYC Themes, Part 2: Build Positive Relationships with Dual-Language Learning Children
Part 3:  Common Theme #2:  Develop meaningful relationships with parents and families
Part 4:  Common Theme #3:  Communication strategies

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Themes from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Annual Conference

Posted by bububooks on December 1, 2009

I attended the annual NAEYC conference just before Thanksgiving in Washington D.C.  I learned a lot more about the strategies, techniques and trends for teaching dual language learners.  I also got to see some friends and make some new ones who are involved in early education.  Moreover, I got to see Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speak live!  Over the next few blog postings, I’ll be recapping some of the presentations I attended.  For this particular posting, I’d like to discuss four overarching themes that seemed to repeat throughout the various sessions.  I will expand on these themes through the specific postings that will follow.

Common Theme #1:  Teachers need to build positive relationships with dual language learning children.  Help them to feel safe and included. Oftentimes, every single thing is new to them since they have just moved here.  Even their parents are stressed as they try to get settled in a new country.  With everything so new and different (read: scary), a safe and inviting environment will help them to open up more in school.

Common Theme #2:  Teachers need to develop meaningful relationships with parents and families.  Parents and families from different countries display their involvement with their children’s education in various ways. Also, sometimes their current circumstances prevent them from being as involved as they’d like.  This does not mean they are not interested.  Furthermore, language need not be a barrier for a teacher to communicate with the families.  These meaningful relationships help to eliminate misunderstandings and further create a safe environment for the child.

Common Theme #3:  Be deliberate, intentional, integrative and committed with your communication strategies.  I’ll offer suggestions in following postings.  But certainly determine what your policy is for incorporating dual language learners and then set about creating a strategy to do so.  This process will include research and can even mean hiring a consultant.

Common Theme #4:  Support the home language and culture.  Dual language learning children do not come to your school as a blank slate. By supporting their home language and culture, you maximize their potential to learn, send them a message that they are not different, help create that safe and inclusive environment, and lay the foundation for a strong relationship between them and their parents.

I look forward to sharing with you specific details from the sessions as well as expanding upon these four themes.  In the meantime, Happy Holidays and don’t forget to check out our bookstore, where all the books are bilingual: www.bububooks.com.


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Remembering the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Posted by bububooks on November 6, 2009

This Monday, November 6, will mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  I was ten years old and living in Europe. My father, an Army soldier, was stationed at Schweinfurt, West Germany, not far from the border with East Germany.  I was in Mr. Ike’s fifth grade class in a Department of Defense school.  I can’t say I remember the day the wall fell, but I certainly remember the trip my family took to Berlin the following February.

Growing up in Germany as a military brat, we were all acutely aware of the Cold War and its implications. Sort of. I thought the Iron Curtain was a real, physical wall between Western and Eastern Europe.  So when we crossed into East Germany on our drive up to Berlin, I was a little surprised to find our entrance so easy and with no wall keeping us out.  I had expected long and scary inspections only to find the entrance so easy that I don’t even remember it.  I also expected East Germany to be a very poor place. Yet on the drive to Berlin, it didn’t look all that different from West Germany (we were driving through rural areas and not through any towns).  I don’t know if that road was designed specifically for Westerners heading to Berlin and if that is why we didn’t see much on our drive.

Once we arrived in Berlin, I remember being struck by the differences on each side of the wall…literally.  The western side was covered in graffiti and already had vendors selling bags fill with chunks of the wall (who knows if they were even real pieces).  The eastern side was pristine, as if it had never been touched.  We didn’t have a hammer and chisel to break off a piece of the wall. We did pull off some crumbs from a hole that had already been created.  Through the hole, I saw the steel bars still in place, holding the wall strong all those years. And I saw an East German guard in his full uniform. My initial reaction was the fear that had been ingrained in me. He was tall (towering to a ten-year-old) and broad-shouldered. He wore his full winter gear including the well-known hat. I looked at him, a little nervous, as I pulled off the crumbs. But he didn’t do anything, just looked at me. He wore no expression on his face, but at that moment, I knew life as we knew it had changed.

Later, my father pointed out Checkpoint Charlie and how it had closed. People could go in and out freely. We headed into East Berlin.  All I really remember from that was our loads of shopping!

Later, because Schweinfurt was so close to the East German border, many East German cars—distinguishable by their size and features—popped up in our town.  While the changes in Germany appeared sudden and drastic, the Cold War would last for several more years. Indeed, during that summer of 1990, we flew to South Korea to spend the summer with my mother’s family.  At that time, however, Korean Airlines did not fly over the Soviet Union.  We had to fly around the world in what would be a 23-hour flight, which included a brief stop in Anchorage to refuel the plane.

Even though the flight was exhausting, I am grateful I got to experience these moments in history first hand. It has affected my outlook on life in that I know the American view isn’t the only view.  The world has changed a lot since fall of the Berlin Wall, but its message still rings true.  The will of the people, at some point or another, will find a way to prevail.

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Help your child learn in two languages

Posted by bububooks on June 1, 2009

I attended the monthly Bilingual Parents Advisory Council meeting in Elgin, Ill., this past weekend.  It was great to see so many parents interested and involved in children’s education.  There were some great performances too! 

During the morning, I read two books to a little girl whose mom was attending the meeting.  She spoke Spanish, was learning to read in Spanish and spoke a little English.  I read to her in English since I don’t speak Spanish and she seemed to comprehend most of what I was reading—she could answer many of the questions I would ask her.  That is also the beauty of children’s books—the beautiful illustrations aid in comprehension!  We had a fun time and I enjoyed sharing with her.

I have high hopes for this girl’s future.  Her mother is doing the right thing—ensuring she learns to read in her native language while also learning English as a language.  Because of this experience, I want to share with you a tip sheet called, “Helping Your Child Learn in Two Languages,” provided by the Illinois Early Learning Project.  For more tip sheets, visit www.illinoisearlylearning.org


Helping Your Child Learn in Two Languages

Many families new to the United States face an important choice. Should their children focus on learning only English? Or should the children also be fluent in their home language? Children who know more than one language often benefit in school and later in life. Also, many parents and grandparents find that talking to older children about important life matters is easier if the children retain their home language skills. Here are some ways that parents have helped young children keep their home language while learning English in school.

Be aware of skills and habits of mind that are important in any language.

  • Keep in mind that your preschooler can build good speaking and listening skills and habits when he listens and talks to people who are fluent in any language. In school, he will learn from teachers and peers who know English well. At home, you are the language expert!
  • Talk with your child in your home language every day so she sees you using words and gestures with ease. Express feelings and complex ideas. Tell jokes and funny stories. Let your child see you reading, making lists, and writing notes so she learns how people communicate through print.
  • Help your preschooler count, estimate, compare, measure, and solve problems in your home language so he understands that math concepts are the same in any language.
  • Nurture your child’s curiosity about the world around her. Use your home language to help her ask questions, describe things she observes, and make predictions. Being able to do those things will help her in school.

Make your home language the foundation for literacy.

  • Help your preschooler learn the alphabet and read signs in your home language. That way, he can begin to understand that letters and symbols have meaning.
  • Tell stories or read aloud to your child in your home language. Record yourself reading aloud, so your child can listen independently.
  • Teach your child songs and musical games in your home language.
  • Make books with your child. Your child can dictate stories to you. You might also create fantasy tales or books of true-life family stories. Try making a bilingual dictionary together. Illustrate the books with drawings or magazine cutouts.

Stay in touch with preschool staff.

  • Let your preschooler’s teachers know that you support your child’s education at home by reading, writing, and talking with her in the language you know best.
  • If you have time, offer to help out in your child’s classroom. You might even try teaching the other children some words and phrases in your home language.

Keep in mind that having a bilingual family is not always easy!

  • Look for support groups for bilingual families in your area. Arrange playgroups or outings with other families who speak your home language.
  • Help your child to understand that knowing two languages well will be useful to him, even if he now feels some peer pressure to speak only English.
  • Treat language learning as a puzzle your family is working on together.


Ayude a su hijo a aprender en dos lenguas

Muchas familias en los Estados Unidos hacen frente a una decisión importante. ¿Debería su hijo enfocarse solamente en aprender el inglés? ¿O deberían los hijos hablar con fluidez la lengua materna también? Los niños que saben hablar más de una lengua frecuentemente tienen ventajas en la escuela y más tarde en la vida. Además, muchos padres y abuelos han hallado que es más fácil hablar con los niños mayores acerca de cuestiones importantes en la vida si los hijos mantienen la fluidez en la lengua materna. He aquí algunas maneras en las que algunos padres y madres han ayudado a sus hijos pequeños a mantener la lengua materna a la vez de aprender el inglés en la escuela.

Esté consciente de las habilidades y hábitos mentales que son importantes en cualquier lengua.

  • Tenga en cuenta que su hijo de edad preescolar puede desarrollar buenas habilidades y hábitos de hablar y escuchar cuando escucha a personas que hablan con fluidez cualquier lengua y conversa con ellas. En la escuela, aprenderá de maestros y compañeros que dominan el inglés. En casa, ¡usted es el perito!
  • Converse con su hijo en su lengua materna todos los días para que lo observe utilizar palabras y gestos con facilidad. Exprese sentimientos e ideas complejas. Cuente chistes y cuentos divertidos. Deje que su hijo lo vea leer, hacer listas y escribir notas para que aprenda cómo la gente se comunica a través de la palabra impresa.
  • Ayude a su hijo preescolar a contar, calcular, comparar, medir y resolver problemas en su lengua materna para que comprenda que los conceptos matemáticos son los mismos en cualquier lengua.
  • Estimule la curiosidad de su hijo acerca del mundo que lo rodea. Utilice su lengua materna para ayudarlo a hacer preguntas, describir las cosas que observa y hacer predicciones. La capacidad de hacer estas cosas ayudará a su hijo en la escuela.

Convierte su lengua materna en el fundamento de la alfabetización.

  • Ayude a su hijo preescolar a aprender el abecedario y a leer rótulos en su lengua materna. De este modo empezará a entender que las letras y los símbolos tienen significado.
  • Cuéntele cuentos o lea en voz alta a su hijo en su lengua materna. Grábese a sí mismo leyendo para que su hijo pueda escuchar de forma independiente.
  • Enséñele a su hijo canciones y juegos musicales en su lengua materna.
  • Haga libros con su hijo. Su hijo podría dictarle cuentos a usted. Podrían crear también cuentos fantásticos o libros de historias de la vida real de su familia. Intenten hacer juntos un diccionario bilingüe. Ilustren los libros con dibujos o con fotos cortadas de revistas.

Manténgase en contacto con el personal del programa preescolar.

  • Comunique a los maestros preescolares que usted apoya la formación de su hijo en casa aleer, escribir y hablar con él en la lengua que usted habla mejor.
  • Si tiene tiempo, ofrézcase como voluntario para ayudar en el aula de su hijo. Hasta podría intentar enseñarles a los demás niños algunas palabras o frases de su lengua materna.

Tenga presente que ¡no siempre es fácil tener una familia bilingüe!

  • Busque grupos de apoyo para familias bilingües en su ciudad. Haga arreglos de grupos de juego o excursiones con otras familias que hablan su lengua materna.
  • Ayude a su hijo a comprender que el dominar dos lenguas le será útil, aun si ahora siente alguna presión de los compañeros hacia hablar solamente el inglés.
  • Trate el aprendizaje de una lengua como un rompecabezas que su familia está colaborando en hacer.

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