CANTON, Ga. – A Georgia elementary school launched a new program for upcoming school year that will rely on older students who just learned English to help teach younger students the language.
“Approximately 42 percent of our students are served in our program for English as a second language,” Canton Elementary School Principal Beth Long told WSBTV.
That means about 336 of the school’s 800 students must learn how to speak, write and read English fluently, a process school officials contend takes five to seven years.
To help speed the learning, school officials plan to use older students as translators for younger students to help teachers communicate lessons effectively, according to the news site.
“The new school year will be very interesting here at Canton Elementary,” WSBTV reporter Darryn Moore said. “The student population is very diverse and English is not the first language for many kids.”
The news story provided omitted all details on the school’s new program, including the cost. But Canton isn’t the only elementary school relying on special programs to cope with an increase in ESL students.
At Warren Elementary in Bowling Green, Kentucky, students from numerous schools spent the summer working on their English for the 2015-16 school year, according to the Bowling Green Daily News.
The program was free for the roughly 70 fourth through seventh graders who participated in the daily lessons. Those kids received free breakfast and lunch throughout the summer.
The students also participated in other summer programs, like the Junior Achievement entrepreneurship program, Kids on the Block obesity program and the local summer reading initiative. They were also escorted on field trips, including one this summer to Lost River Cave.
Janet Yeager, who has worked with the Bowling Green ESL summer program since it started 13 years ago, said the growth of ESL students locally has been “phenomenal.”
“It grows every year,” she said of the program, according to the news site.