Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Spanish to English: Helping Adult ELLs Make the Transition

Fairleigh Dickinson, an independent university in northern New Jersey, has recently begun a program called "MiraeRo," or "To the Future," to help adult Korean speakers to transition to speaking English while studying for an associate in arts (A.A.) degree. This is modeled after the university's "Puerta al Futuro" (Gateway to the Future) program, which was originally designed for Spanish-speaking English Language Learners. The programs, which last three years in total, offer evening and weekend classes to ELL students with little to no knowledge of English and gradually transition them from classes taught their native language to classes taught exclusively in English. The Puerta al Futuro program, which began in 2003 with 20 students, has now grown to over 200 students.

The potential impact of this type of program is impressive, especially for Latino adults. Considering that in 2003, less than 12% of US Hispanics had a bachelor's degree, one can easily see how programs like these could offer excellent educational opportunities to Spanish-speaking adults. Not only would higher educational attainment amongst Latinos benefits the students themselves, but the degrees would make them more marketable and employable and thus, more likely to contribute positively to the American economy on the whole. If well-designed and well-executed, these programs have the potential to empower huge numbers of adult ELL students to find better, higher paying careers and increase the amount in which they give back to our economy.

1 comment:

Mario said...

This program at Fairleigh Dickenson (or "Fairly Ridiculously Expensive," as the locals call it) sounds like it's a really good idea. My only question would be whether an A.A. degree is really helpful in getting a good career, especially if the person doesn't speak English very well. I wonder if more vocationally-focused training might not be more apt.