Federal grant to help teachers educate bilingual students

Teachers in the Lafayette School Corporation are going to be well-equipped to teach students who speak English as their second language.

Posted: Oct 24, 2017 4:26 PM
Updated: Oct 24, 2017 4:26 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- Some teachers in the Lafayette School Corporation are going to be well-equipped to teach students who speak English as their second language.

It's all thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and Purdue University.

One local teacher said this grant will make things better for everyone.

"I've been teaching for 14 years," Sally Louk said.

Louk teaches second grade at Thomas Miller Elementary.

"They can fool you too," she said. "Sometimes they sound very fluent but there are still gaps they need filled in."

But for the last two years, Louk's been learning a little too.

"Teachers especially that work with ESL kids are just hungry for any kind of training that we can get," said explained.

Like many teachers in the Lafayette School Corporation, Louk has quite a few bilingual students.

"Vocabulary is hard for them," she explained. "Just finding what's going to help them find what gives them the most success at the same level as their peers who do speak English all the time. "

Louk said the number of bilingual students seems to be growing, and there are noticeable gaps in learning.

That's why it's important for teachers to be prepared.

"A lot of us would jump at the chance to figure out the best strategies," Louk explained. "The thing is, these strategies that work well with English language learners are really great for the rest of our kids too."

Those teachers will have their chance, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and Purdue University.

"They really are individual so what works with one doesn't necessarily work with another one but there is a bank of strategies that we pull from to try," Louk said.

Purdue researchers will use a nearly 4 million dollar grant to train and license four hundred K through 12 teachers in bilingual education. The efforts will focus on students in five districts across the state.

That includes LSC.

It's something Louk thinks will make a significant impact.

"So when they go from grade level to grade level or even at the high school or middle school, when they go from teacher to teacher, if we're consistent with the language that we use with them and the strategies that we use with them, I think that will be a huge benefit," she added.

The grant has been split into two parts for two different researchers, and it's the first of its kind in the Purdue's College of Education.

Money from the grants will be active for five years.

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