High-tech tools help students learn English

CARLSBAD — Arabic. Chinese. Dutch. Farsi. French. Japanese. Lithuanian. Spanish. Vietnamese. For four weeks this summer, nearly 300 kindergarten through eighth-grade students who speak these and other languages at home are accelerating their English Language Learning (ELL) skills at CUSD’s Summer School ELL Academy at Magnolia Elementary, under the direction of Summer School Principal Joyce Vallone.
The eager students’ learning experiences are intensive, extensive and maybe even a little fun. iPads, iTouches, computers and SmartBoards enable the students to practice the four ELL standards – listening, speaking, reading and writing – in several ways that complement each other and build upon their learning base.
According to Data and Assessment Specialist Sharon St. Clair, the 70 iPads, which were obtained through a Microsoft Settlement, have propelled the students forward and will help them immensely this fall as they enter grades one through nine.
“As their language skills progress, they become better able to succeed in all of their academic classes, she said. “This cutting-edge, technology-based instruction not only engages students, but also allows differentiation. The kids can learn at their own speed and at their specific ability level.”
Student Kimberly Mojica said, “First I had to learn how to use the iPad, but it didn’t take long. I like being able to record and then play back what I’ve said. It helps me learn how to speak right. Speaking is the hardest part of learning English for me.”
Classmate Daniel Santiago said, “The apps make learning easier and really fun. We do stuff like Grammar Jammer and Scramble. It’s like playing games, but we’re learning everything about English, including how to spell. Knowing the right words helps me talk to my friends who don’t speak Spanish. It will help me in school next year.”
The Summer School Academy is made possible through the District’s Title III Plan for English Learners. The skills gained will help students make adequate yearly progress on standardized tests. Equally important, the students are developing a strong confidence in their ability to learn not only English, but every subject.

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