WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

How One District School Is Tackling English Language Learning

Play associated audio

Students who don't speak English are at higher risk of dropping out of school. In the District, a new academy within Cardozo Education Campus is trying to change those outcomes.

Kalkidan Mangstu is 18. She came to the U.S. a little over a year ago from Ethiopia, and spoke no English.

"I’m confused. Pronunciation is very difficult. I’m very confused," Mangstu says.

She sat silently during the school day because she didn't understand what was going on and didn't know how to ask for help.

This year, Kalkidan is one of more than 150 teenagers just like her who are enrolled in a specialized program at Cardozo. Teachers here are certified in both their content area and in teaching English as a Second Language. The students work in small groups and their lessons include how to go through the lunch line and why they need to turn in their homework on time.

Kalkidan says things now are completely different: "Teacher is helping, very helping student. I'm excited this year!"

"The vast majority of my students are from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala" says Megan Sands, associate principal. "But then I also have a couple from students from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Samoa and Vietnam. We have a Cameroonian as well."

She says they have different educational backgrounds.

"We have a number of students who have nearly finished their high school career. Then I have students who have a fifth grade education in their home country and are 16 years old," Sands says.

Rosanna De Mammos is with D.C.’s traditional public schools. There are almost 5,000 students who don't speak English fluently in DCPS. And she says Cardozo in particular has seen a dramatic increase.

"So in the last 10 years, Cardozo has always had an English language learner population. In the past their years the numbers have doubled," she says.

Kalkidan says her grades have improved considerably since attending the academy: "Last year my grades are C. All C. This year A."

When asked why she wants to learn English she says, “This is USA, English will give me a more, better life.”

These reports are part of American Graduate — Let's Make It Happen! — a public media initiative to address the drop out crisis, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

NPR

Shante, He Stays: RuPaul Reflects On Decades Of Drag — And 2 Emmy Nominations

RuPaul is the most recognizable drag queen in America. His hit show, RuPaul's Drag Race is up for two Emmy Awards as it begins filming its ninth season. But drag, he says, will never be mainstream.
NPR

Food World Rallies For Quake-Hit Amatrice, Home Of Famous Pasta Dish

In Italy and the U.S., restaurants are pledging to use sales of Amatrice's signature dish, spaghetti all' amatriciana, to raise funds for the Italian town devastated by Wednesday's earthquake.
NPR

Former White House Doctor Outlines Gray Areas In Candidates' Health

NPR's Robert Siegel talks to Rob Darling, a former White House physician, about how much voters have a right to know about the medical histories of presidential candidates.
NPR

WhatsApp Will Start Sharing Data, Including Phone Numbers, With Facebook

It will also test new ways for businesses to communicate with users on the app. The privacy policy changes mark the long-expected move by Facebook to begin making money from the free app.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.