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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid