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School District Invites Parents To Learn English Alongside Their Kids

Learning a new language might sometimes be necessary, but that doesn't mean it's easy. While it's common wisdom that it's easier for kids to learn a second language, grown-ups have a few advantages too, like already having learning skills and long attention spans.

Still, when you're pressed to learn, you need all the help you can get.

One school district in Arkansas is stepping up in a big, bright way to help parents learn English.

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In Springdale, Arkansas, parents who need to learn English are joining their kids in the classroom as part of the Family Literacy Program, a long-standing program offered at 18 schools in the district that's free to participants and helps break down barriers.

It's a big deal for newcomer families to get all the help learning that they possibly can, and it's a good match in an increasingly diverse district.

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"When I came to the United States, I didn’t speak anything. I didn’t understand," Elvira Sanchez told KNWA. "When I go to appointments, I need to understand English, and not be dependent on another person."

So, she has spent the past three years going to class and learning alongside her son at his elementary school.

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It's been as inspiring for the boy as it has been empowering for the parent.

"It just gives him such a sense of pride, to see her coming and learning, and watching her persevere," Sanchez's son's teacher, Elizabeth Powers, said.

Of course, elementary school English isn't a complete education.

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So the grown-ups can go to adult classes for English to supplement their learning as part of the program as well. But it's hard to overestimate the effect of the elementary school experience.

"It opens the door for communication with parents in a completely different way when they come in as a learner and right alongside their child," said Powers.

Participants in the program have nothing but good things to say about it.

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And for Sanchez, learning English proved to just be a stepping stone to something larger: earning her citizenship.

"Watching just the joy and excitement on her face, you can’t even describe how that feels to know we were all a part of that just because we opened the doors for her here at Smith Elementary," said Powers.

h/t: KNWA