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ESL Teachers Learn to Bridge Language Gap

About 500 teachers from across the state gathering Thursday to network and learn how they can better help their students succeed without language being a barrier.
About 500 teachers from across the state gathering Thursday to network and learn how they can better help their students succeed without language being a barrier.

"The immigrant population has been growing since the 80's and I don't see it stopping," Tina Howlett, former president of ARKTESOL said.

About 40 percent of the population in Northwest Arkansas speaks English as a second language. 

"It continues to grow, and it's a field that is growing and we need more and more teachers who have training," Howlett said.

Training through organizations like The Arkansas Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). 

"Part of the purpose of our conference is for teachers to network with each other as well as learning new instructional strategies for their classroom, meeting each other and finding out what other things they can be doing  in their districts to help students and their families," she said.

Regional representative for the organization, Grace Davis has seen the benefits of the collaboration.

"We're starting to see students that have come through our Arkansas ESL programs now go on to university and colleges and have successful business, have their children back in and it's very exciting to see that the ground work that was laid 20 years ago is now really coming to fruition and the support is there," Davis said.

Which is helping bridge the gap between languages and creating a community.

"I think that our families are a gift to our community. That when our second language families come, and with the cultures they bring and the language, they add a richness and a strength  and an energy to all of us," Davis said.
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