My students have recently come from Syria, Afghanistan, Angola, Honduras, Somalia, Djibouti, Iraq, and Vietnam as refugees and immigrants for a variety of reasons. Many of them had to flee their countries due to war and civil unrest. Some of them have never had the opportunity to attend schools in their countries. Most of them have no books at home. However, they are so enthusiastic to learn and read in English. They know that improving English is essential to be successful. As a teacher, I am so lucky and thankful to have these Newcomers!
The Newcomer Program at our Middle School, Portland Public Schools in Maine, teaches English and acculturation to U.S. schools, as well as additional academic subjects, like science and social studies. The program is for students who are recent immigrants to the United States, with limited English proficiency and/or limited education in their native countries. Literacy skills are introduced and strengthened through speaking, listening, reading and writing. Some of my students are English Language Learners who have experienced interrupted education due to war, civil unrest, migration, or other factors. Some have never had the opportunity to participate in any type of schooling before entering school in the United States or have experienced limited education in their home countries due to lack of resources or trained teachers, the type of schooling they received, or other circumstances. Therefore, they are very happy and excited to be able to read books at school and home. However, our program lacks emergent level reading materials, since we are a middle school. It is very important to provide books that are suitable for these lower reading levels, as the more students read in English, the faster they can improve their English skills. With these new books, my students will be able to choose from a wider variety of books that will allow them to read independently at their own English proficiency level.
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