SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA) — A long-standing program is breaking language barriers for parents whose first language isn’t English.
This, as the Northwest Arkansas community’s diversity rate continues to grow.
“When I came to the United States, I didn’t speak anything. I didn’t understand,” said Elvira Sanchez, a Family Literacy Program participant.
After coming to the U.S. from Mexico, Sanchez had trouble understanding the new language.
So, for three years now, she’s been joining her son Axel in his elementary classes.
“It just gives him such a sense of pride, to see her coming and learning, and watching her persevere,” said Elizabeth Powers, a third-grade teacher at Thurman G. Smith Elementary.
Through the Springdale Family Literacy Program (SFLP), parents can learn English with their kids as well as in a class specifically designed for adults.
Powers said, “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.”
“When I go to appointments, I need to understand English, and not be dependent on another person,” Sanchez said.
SFLP helps parents like sanchez achieve milestones inside, and outside the classroom.
For this parent, it was her citizenship.
“Watching just the joy and excitement on her face, you can’t even describe how that feels….” Powers said. “To know we were all a part of that just because we opened the doors for her here at Smith Elementary.”
“It’s a good family, and every day I’m learning different things,” said Sanchez. “It’s good. I like it.”
It’s not just at this school, 18 different schools in the Springdale school district have this program at no cost to the participants.
“Marshallese, Spanish, we would love to work with you, with all people that are learning their second language,” said Powers.
To sign up, all you have to do is contact your school and they’ll get you set up.
“It’s a good program. The teacher is so good. Come!,” said Sanchez.