Helping English language learners adapt to school in the U.S. isn’t simply the responsibility of specially trained teachers — or at least it shouldn’t be — experts argued Thursday.
At a panel discussion organized by Chalkbeat, WFYI and the Indianapolis Star at the Indianapolis Public Library Wednesday, key figures from a recent series of stories about English language learning in Indiana called “Lost in Translation” discussed the challenges that immigrant students face and ideas for how they can be better served in the future. The series was a joint effort of Chalkbeat, the Star and WFYI Public Media.
“I think what schools are struggling with is who owns these students,” said said Charlie Geier, who oversees English language learning programs for the Indiana Department of Education. “The answer is everybody owns these students. (Learning English) is just not something that happens in isolation for 15 minutes a day or 30 minutes a day.”
Along with Geier, the panel included Southport High School student Elly Mawi; May Oo Mutraw, founder of the Burmese Community Center for Education; and Eddie Rangel, an Indianapolis Public Schools teacher.
The speakers said schools need to take advantage of increased state funding, approved by the legislature in the wake of the series.
Video from the event is now available thanks to WFYI. If the video doesn’t play above, click here to watch it. You can find a shorter 10-minute version below.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the American Graduate Project also helped sponsor the event.