News / USA

    Immigrants Learn English With Their Children

    Maryland school, business team up to teach Burmese refugee parents

    June Soh

    Tha Neih Ciang is learning vocabulary words with other immigrant students. She's among four dozen Burmese youngsters at Bollman Bridge Elementary School, which is less than an hour's drive from Washington.  

    Their teacher, Laurel Conran, specializes in teaching English to speakers of other languages.

    “Today we were doing text structures," she says. "I wanted them to know the vocabulary, the language of text structures, so when they go back into the classroom and work with their peers, they can do this successfully in the classroom.”

    Lunch-time learning

    Tha Neih’s mother, Tin Iang, also practices English with Conran, only their session takes place in the cafeteria of Coastal Sunbelt Produce. Many Burmese refugees work on assembly lines at the fruit and vegetable distributor. Conran started classes here to help them learn English.

    “The program is a six-week session," she says. "It is once a week, on every Wednesday from 12 to one o’clock. So every Wednesday I go to Coastal Sunbelt.”

    About 18,000 Burmese refugees have come to the United States each year since 2007.

    Once a week, Burmese refugee workers at Coastal Sunbelt Produce, in Maryland, take English lessons during their lunch hour.
    Once a week, Burmese refugee workers at Coastal Sunbelt Produce, in Maryland, take English lessons during their lunch hour.

    Four years ago, when a large number of Burmese refugees first arrived in Howard County, Bollman Bridge Elementary introduced intensive English programs for the children.

    While the youngsters learned English, Conran noticed it was hard to connect with their parents.

    “Some of them do not know the name of the school that their children attend,” she says.  

    With help from Lisa Chertok - a school parent and manager at Coastal Sunbelt - Conran developed English lessons to teach at the parents’ workplace. Each Wednesday, during their lunch break, Burmese workers sit in small groups with an English-speaking volunteer to practice their new language skills.

    Making a difference

    The program has the support of Bollman Bridge’s principal.

    “I really see it as the beginning of a great partnership between a business and a school and we have just begun to scratch the surface with how that could benefit, really, the greater community,” says Jonathan Davis, who hopes the lessons help Burmese parents become more comfortable communicating with the school. “Even as simply as making a phone call to say that their son or daughter is sick, even if that is the amount of English that they have gotten from the program, that truly will help us.”   

    Chertok believes it's already made a difference in the workplace.

    “When the Burmese employees got here, they were very, very shy," she says. "Now I find that they are more responsive as employees. They are more communicative. They are also, as parents, more involved in their children’s school.”

    For their efforts, Chertok and Conran received a 2011 Community Builders Award from Howard County.

    “I love this program," Conran says. "As a community we want to work together, collaboratively, because when everybody works together it is a win-win situation.”  

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora