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Clark County School District promoting biliterate education for ELL students

ELL learning
Posted at 7:29 AM, Sep 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-28 10:29:48-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Reading a book can open up a whole new world of possibilities. That's why 13 Action News is proud to be part of our company literacy campaign called "If You Give A Child a Book …” From now until Sept. 30 we are doing a series of stories about the importance of literacy in our community.

This morning reporter Jeremy Chen takes a closer look at how the Clark County School District is helping students who are learning English and putting them in a position to succeed.

RELATED | 'If You Give A Child a Book …' campaign

CCSD schools in the valley have a diverse body of students and languages and for some, they’re also learning English. It’s a process that can take time.

“It’s a five to seven-year process.”

Ignacio Ruiz is an assistant superintendent who oversees the English Language Learners division. He says many ELL students are already proficient in their native languages and are taking a direct approach.

“We are integrating language and content simultaneously and our goal is to accelerate that language acceleration,” he said.

He says reinforcing the use of their native language as they learn English, can help ELL students read and write successfully.

“When you look at language acquisition, the more proficient you are in your first language, that faster that you will acquire that second language,” Ruiz said.

CCSD estimates about 16 to 18 percent of its student body are English language learners. About 95 percent of them speak Spanish at home.

“There’s always so many rich opportunities for parents to engage their children in daily life.”

Claudia Molina is a project facilitator with CCSD’s ELL division. She says parents of ELL students can help improve their children’s English literacy, like pointing at signs in the supermarket or having them translate something from their native language.

“Have students engage in that critical thinking that will help them put themselves in the position of someone else in how to solve that problem,” she said.

Ruiz says the goal is to not only create proficient English speakers but bi-literate students so they can succeed in the real world.

“These are students that eventually master both languages and now that is an asset that they bring when they graduate, in the business world, college, et cetera,’ he said.

Learn about the Scripps Howard Foundation's "If You Give A Child a Book …” campaign to put books into the hands of children in need across our community here.