Sharing the Language of Learning: Welcoming Newcomers to the Community Can Provide Both a Community Service Opportunity and a Learning Experience for Students

Article excerpt

Ever felt out of place? Were you careful not to look foolish? Could you just "fit in" without losing your identity?

Educating newcomers to help themselves provides the knowledge and security they will need to function better in the community, but it can also be a learning experience for your students.

Community High School in West Chicago, Illinois, has developed an integrated curriculum combining Spanish native speaking (SNS) students and child development and clothing classes to teach about how to access and use the public library.

To ease the fear of the target group, the program focuses on the children--kindergarten through third grade. The children and their parents are invited to a special event where SNS students perform a puppet show that they have created. The puppet show explains what the library has to offer and describes the process of using the facility. SNS and child development students read books and teach about the different types and uses of books.

At one of the events, Cable Com, the local cable company, came by to record the program and the process. After editing the program, the company began televising the event in Spanish. This program is now replayed throughout the year to advise newcomers to the community how to use the library. The video is also given to local school districts for instructional purposes.

To further help these newcomers understand the library system, the clothing classes make book bags that are used to show children how to care for books that are borrowed. …


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