Monday July 16, 2018

California Prepares to Resume Bilingual Education in two-decade mandate for English-only classes in Public Schools

California gets ready to welcome multilingual education again after the two-decade long mandate for English-only education system

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FILE - Teacher Regina Yang leads a bilingual Korean-English language immersion classes at Porter Ranch Community School in Los Angeles, Sept. 30, 2016. VOA
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California, Jan 14, 2017: Hilda Maldonado is an evangelist for bilingual education. As head of multilingual programming for the Los Angeles Unified School District, she welcomed California’s vote last fall to repeal an almost two-decade mandate for English-only classes in public schools.

Her district’s 640,000-plus students collectively speak 93 languages. Maldonado said, “Forty-nine percent of the students in this district come with a second language. We should see that as a wealth of our state and not as something we must eliminate.”

California voters last November overwhelmingly approved Proposition 58. Now, Maldonado and other Californians are scrambling to prepare for the initiative, which takes effect in July.

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More control for schools

As The Los Angeles Times explains, the measure gives communities and their schools more control over whether to offer bilingual education and, if they do, which language to choose besides English. Prop 58 still requires that all students develop proficiency in English.

While the California Board of Education develops guidelines and accountability measures, Maldonado said school districts are doing research, working on credentialing bilingual teachers and informing parents about how to proceed. Launching a bilingual program starts with a show of interest by parents of at least 20 students in one grade level or 30 students schoolwide, the California Association for Bilingual Education says on its website.

FILE – A display at a bilingual Korean-English language immersion class at Porter Ranch Community School in Los Angeles, Sept. 30, 2016. VOA

These efforts most likely will be scrutinized. California serves as a laboratory on U.S. immigration, with more foreign-born residents — almost 10.5 million, or over one in four — than any other state.

In 1998, California became the first U.S. state to prohibit bilingual education amid concern that newcomer students weren’t adequately learning English. (At the time, some had been shepherded into Spanish-only classes.) That worry persists among opponents of Proposition 58. But proponents say it cuts “the bureaucratic red tape around multilingual education [that] is harmful to students in a global economy, where the most sought after employees speak more than one language,” according to the Times.

In the last academic year, among California’s 6.2 million kindergarten-through-12th-grade students, nearly a quarter were classified as English-language learners. Most speak only Spanish.

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More in L.A. district

The concentration of English-language learners is even higher in the Los Angeles district, at almost half. Again, Spanish is most common. Other predominant languages include Korean, Armenian, Tagalog, Cantonese, Arabic, Vietnamese and Russian.

But, because of the earlier restrictions, few California public schools — not even 5 percent — currently offer multilingual programs, the Times reported. Those schools had to get waivers.

One of the rare ones is Cahuenga Elementary School, in central Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighborhood. There, Wonnie Pak teaches third-graders in both English and Korean, trying to incorporate fun into their lessons. They’ve learned songs in Korean, for instance.

Wonnie Pak teaches third-graders in English and Korean at Cahuenga Elementary School in Los Angeles, Calif. She says bilingual education creates opportunities. (A. Martinez/VOA)

The teacher calls the human brain “an incredible tool” and encourages language instruction for students of all ages.

“If you give them the opportunity, then they will learn it, no matter how young or how old,” she said. “Like in Europe. They speak so many languages. Why can’t we? Why do we have to just only speak English?”

Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, an immigrant rights group, suggests bilingual education aids students and also preserves vulnerable languages.

“Latino children are losing their Spanish and speaking only in English,” he said. “I mean, the English language is not under threat. What is actually threatening is not having enough knowledge about all the languages spoken in the United States.”

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Other state bans

Two other states — Arizona and Massachusetts — prohibit bilingual education, according to the National Association of State Legislatures (NCSL).

In 2000, Arizonans voted to require English-only classes except for foreign language training, giving pupils classified as English learners up to a year for structured immersion. In 2002, Massachusetts approved a similar law. Though both states offer waivers, the process may be “difficult for parents to navigate, especially for those parents with limited English skills themselves,” NCSL education policy specialist Matthew Weyer said in an email.

Obstacles to bilingual education can include school financing, cultural resistance and, Weyer noted, finding qualified and experienced bilingual teachers.

California is one of at least 20 states in which local school districts can award a Seal of Biliteracy to high school graduates proficient in at least two languages.

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)