Friday, February 22, 2008

Chris: Spanish Community Service Learning Reveals New Information about Champaign-Urbana

I continue to learn more about the community of Champaign-Urbana at the Refugee Center.

I did not know, for instance, that CU also has a significant number of Turkish and Persian immigrants. This week we had a couple of people call who were looking for interpreters in Turkish and Farsi. The workers at the Refugee Center did not know of anybody who spoke either language fluently, but they did some research and eventually found two translators.

Additionally, I did not know that some of the grade schools in Champaign have bilingual education programs. I was talking to some of the parents at the Refugee Center and apparently they have kids who are taught in both Spanish and English on a regular basis. This concept really impresses me for a couple of reasons. First of all, I admire the kids who take part in bilingual education programs because it must be extremely difficult. Learning fractions for me was hard enough as it is, and I can only imagine how hard it must be to learn math and science in another language. Secondly, I am impressed by the bilingual education programs because they must require a lot of skill and patience on the part of the teachers. I am guessing that the teachers are fluent in both languages and must be capable of explaining detailed concepts to both English and Spanish native speakers. All in all, I think that bilingual education probably challenges kids and makes them smarter than single-language education, and it would be nice to see other communities follow CU’s example.


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