English-language learners | St. Louis Public Radio

English-language learners

Sasha Walchli, an English language teacher at Parkway's Green Trails Elementary, works with third-graders on learning continents. Walchi has 43 students at the school, twice as many as when she started 10 years ago.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Radi and Hadi Hamdan’s English is getting better, slowly. Sitting in the living room of their Florissant home on a recent evening, they struggled to get through more than introducing themselves before switching back to Arabic.

The 12-year-old twins moved to the northern St. Louis suburb from the West Bank last summer, finally reuniting with their father, who has lived in the United States for two decades.

The twins are seventh-graders in Hazelwood School District’s West Middle School. Radi likes art class. Hadi’s favorite subject is math. They also need intense English-language instruction in order to follow other courses.

Ritenour teacher Deepa Jaswal helps her high school students at the district's International Welcome Center, which is for English-language learners, mark the regions of the United States on a map.
File | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

When nearly half the students in a school can’t speak English, every teacher becomes a language instructor to some extent.

Recognizing that reality, federal grants will help Missouri public school districts and local universities to train more teachers to be help those students in the classroom.

Kindergartener Maram Alhamadah sings an alphabet song at Nahed Chapman New American Academy, one of two programs dedicated to English-language learners at St. Louis Public Schools.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

A $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will make it easier for three Missouri districts to meet new federal accountability metrics for students learning English.