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Quincy school officials have high hopes for intensive summer language program

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  February 15, 2013 04:41 PM

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Quincy Public Schools have always had an active English Language Learners program, especially with the city's growing immigrant population in recent decades.

Yet with a recent $214,609 grant from the state, school officials will expand that program into an ambitious summer course. Designed to significantly increase the comprehension and success of the school’s non-native speakers, the program is a four-week summer intensive that acts like summer school.

“We’d like to invite anyone who is currently receiving ELL services, which means new immigrants who are newly arrived to us in our schools but also those who are in the program and are still receiving the services and will be receiving them next year,” said Beth Hallett, coordinator of curriculum for Quincy Public Schools.

The program is done in partnership with Quincy Asian Resources Inc. and the Quincy Historical Society, and organizers hope to attract about 100 middle school and high school students.

The grant, awarded through a $3.5 million Gateway Cities Education Grant from the state, will help train and pay both ELL and subject teachers.

The goal is for teachers to not only implement the lessons during the summer program, but bring that knowledge to ELL students in their classrooms duiring the regular school year.

“It’s a great opportunity for students, and also for our teachers, to be working so closely and interweaving the academic content areas with ELL and understanding language acquisition,” Hallett said.

Organizers have thus incorporated a science and social studies program to further expand English- earner’s academic language.

Students will venture outside of the classroom to learn, discovering Quincy’s history, coastal environment, and cultural depth in addition to gaining understanding of English.

“The academic language takes longer for ELLs to acquire, as opposed to the social conversational language,” said Colleen Roberts, assistant superintendent for Quincy Public Schools. “So by adding in the social studies and sciences, we’re helping to build that academic vocabulary in those areas.”

The hope for the program is to continue it beyond just this summer, Roberts said.

“The first year is an implementation year … hopefully, the state will have additional funding so they can help us continue it for at least a couple more years until the city takes it on into their budget,” Roberts said.

Though Quincy’s immigrant population these days is mainly Asian, any non-native speaker is encouraged to attend the class, Hallett said.

And though this is still a new program, Hallett is confident that educators will see a notable difference in their students who take part in the program.

“It’s a great extension of the school year,” she said. “We hope to see progress, we expect it. We will be looking at some comparative post assessment results, so we do hope to see a significant change.”

For more information about the grant, click here.

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