Volume XIX - October 1, 2005

Welcome to the E-Comp!, a complimentary monthly newsletter for language educators brought to you by Prolinguistica.com. Tell us what you think. Send feedback, comments, submissions and suggestions to Laura Zink de Diaz at : e-comp@prolinguistica.com

Special Announcement
From: Brittany Armstrong
Hamilton International Middle School
Seattle, Washington
I would like to extend an invitation to all Spanish teachers to join a small network of World Language teachers who would like to share information, classroom resources, and lesson plans. As hardworking teachers, we often work individually, have personal insights, and design excellent lessons that we rarely have the opportunity to share with our colleagues. And we continue to reinvent the proverbial wheel, as countless other teachers do the same. My goal in initiating this network is to promote SHARING our creativity.Please send me an email if you would like me to add your name to the Distribution List I have started. As you receive emails you may simply "Reply to All," or if you'd rather "Delete" the information that is not useful to you.
Brittainy Armstrong
Maestra de Español/Spanish Teacher
Hamilton Int'l Middle School
E-mail: brarmstrong@seattleschools.org


Grant Opportunities, Workshops, Conferences…

33rd Annual Texas Association for Bilingual Education Conference
Corpus Christi, Texas
October 12-15, 2005
The 33rd Annual Texas Association for Bilingual Education (TABE) Conference will be held at the American Bank Convention Center in Corpus Christi, Texas from October 12-15, 2005. For information on registration or submitting presentation proposals, visit: http://mgainc.tempwebpage.com/conference/tabe2005

NAME's 15th Annual International Conference
November 9-13, 2005
Atlanta, GA
"Renewing the Dream Through Multicultural Education: Sharing Power, Valuing Culture and Achieving Social Justice." More information at:

For Your Reading Pleasure

Migrant Pupils' Linguistic Skills "Wasted" in Class
Liz Lightfoot - Telegraph (UK)
According to "Language Trends 2005: Community language learning in England, Scotland and Wales," a survey published by the National Centre for Languages, children in Britain speak at least 300 tongues but their expertise is being wasted because schools concentrate on English and a few European languages. The centre argues, that at a time of concern over the declining number of pupils continuing with a modern foreign language after the age of 14, the skills of bilingual pupils should be encouraged. Read more about it at:

Focus on Spanish Instruction in Primary Grades Boosts Learning and Test Scores
Lawrence Silver - GM Today (Milwaukee, WI)
In the Waukesha School District (WI), three elementary bilingual programs teach students in their first language during the primary grades. Standardized test scores for Hispanics are on the rise in Waukesha School District and the nation, particularly in the area of fourth-grade reading, and District officials point to an emphasis on Spanish-only instruction in primary grades as a major factor for the improvement. Cynthia Gannon, principal at Banting, said Spanish-speaking parents of Spanish-speaking students also benefit from Spanish-only instruction. "Parents now know how they can help their children," Gannon said. "And that is so much a part of early learning - experience from home." Read more at:

Half of Europe's Citizens Know 2 Languages
Half of European citizens speak a second language, according to a European Union survey released Friday. The poll, conducted in June across Europe, found that tiny Luxembourg had
the highest percentage of bilingual citizens, with 99 percent of those questioned saying they could master a conversation in a second language. Hungary had the lowest number with 29 percent of its citizens able to speak another language. Britain was second last with 30 percent.
The survey also found that almost eight out of 10 students - ages 15-24 - can have a normal conversation in at least one foreign language. In the United States, by contrast, 9 percent of Americans speak both their native language and another language fluently, according to a U.S. Senate resolution designating 2005 the "Year of Foreign Language Study."
You can read more about this topic and download the report at:

Grammar analysis reveals ancient language tree
It's not the words, it's how you use them that counts.
Jennifer Wild - Punchstock
When it comes to working out the relationships between ancient languages, grammar is more enlightening than vocabulary, scientists say. There are some 300 language families in the world today. Researchers have long studied similarities between the words in different languages to try to work out how they are related. But the rate of change in languages means that this method really only works back to 10,000 years ago. Homo sapiens evolved more than a hundred thousand years ago and by 10,000 years ago had already settled around the globe. So researchers are keen to peer further back in time to see how language evolved and spread. To do this, Michael Dunn and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Germany decided to look at grammar. Read about it at: http://www.bioedonline.org/news/news.cfm?art=2035

More parents want dual-language classes
By Paige Parker - The Oregonian
New Spanish immersion classrooms opened in two Portland elementary schools this fall, as district officials draft a policy to guide which schools will launch the popular programs in the future. North Portland's Clarendon Elementary began teaching 18 first-graders in its dual-language Spanish program last week. This week, some kindergarteners at Northeast Portland's Rigler Elementary began learning in English and Spanish. Both schools eventually will expand the program to other grades. A group of Latino parents from the Marshall High School area has watched the new programs open with some envy. They've pressed school district officials for two years to create a Spanish immersion program in their neighborhood. The parents are certain a language immersion program would reduce the achievement gap between Latino students and their white peers over the long term. "We're pushing hard because our students are at the bottom of the statistics," says Yolanda Morales, the mother of three children and an organizer with the Portland Schools Alliance. Read more at:

Sounds like TPR to me!
Students grasp benefits of learning languages
By Dave Aeikens - St. Cloud Times
As her teacher gives her instructions in Spanish, Crystal Maldonado goes to the front of the classroom and shuts the door. The Apollo High School 10th-grader said she is taking beginning Spanish "to learn how to write and read it." Read more at:

Dual immersion in languages key classroom tool
By Tracy Garcia , Staff Writer
WEST WHITTIER -- Just two days after kicking off a new school year, Phyllis Martinez' s second-grade class at Aeolian Elementary School already had settled into a familiar groove. One group of students was reading, another was learning vocabulary words, and several approached Martinez for her help at which point, she put aside what she was doing to ask, "Que pasa?' "Puedo ver las tarjetas?' one boy asked, motioning to the flash cards he wanted to look at in the corner of the room. "Si, pero tienes que tornear,' Martinez said, encouraging the youngster to take turns sharing the cards with classmates. Spanish in the mornings, English in the afternoons that's how every day plays out in Martinez's class, one of several dual-immersion classes that have popped up in the Whittier area. Read the rest at:

Suburban Spotlight: More students choosing Spanish
Sign Language is also popular as French and Latin lag behind
Victoria E. Freile - Democrat and Chronical
Thousands of Monroe County teens spend hours each week learning about other cultures. They learn to ask questions in German and how to haggle at a market in French. Some even learn to speak with their hands, as they perfect their American Sign Language skills. But as the national and regional Hispanic population booms and Spanish become more common in stores, restaurants and the workplace, an increasing number of teens are choosing to study Spanish. At the same time, some local school districts are seeing fewer students studying languages such as French and Latin. Read more at:

Japanese sign language opens new world of communication, friendship

By Joel Breckinridge - Japan Today
This is a pleasant article about one person's experiences learning Japanese sign language in Japan. Read about it at:

Judeo-Spanish language revived
By Ashley Perry
Until recently Ladino or Judeo-Spanish was a dying language. But the language of the Sephardim, Jews of Spanish descent, is now receiving a revival in a time that many saw as its last struggles. In 2002, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization gave Ladino an endangered language status and channeled large funds of money into the preserving, teaching and publication of the language. Today, this and many other organized attempts to rescue the language are now bearing fruits. Read about this at: http://www.ejpress.org/article/2998

Teaching in native language increases student learning rate
By Angelina Morgan - Appeal Tribune
September 14
Losing her buddy Cassandra after the first grade wasn’t easy for 8-year-old India Bosshardt, nor was it easy to understand why her friend had to move away after only a year of friendship.
But that is part of the many new cultural and learning experiences India’s mom Mary Tippin is delighted her daughter is getting from the English Translation Program at Eugene Field Elementary School in Silverton. In order to help Spanish-speaking elementary school children generate scholastic skills in the most efficient way possible, Eugene Field Elementary School implemented ETP classes two years ago. Although the program stresses Spanish-speakers become proficient English speakers, young students from English-speaking homes are joining the program with their own educational objectives. Read more about this at: http://www.eastvalleynews.com/appeal/article.cfm?i=6140

Learning English: It's a complex formula
Silvio Manno - Fresno Bee
Recently, Wilson County Judge Barry Tatum warned a Mexican mother in Tennessee that unless she attains a fourth-grade level of English fluency within six months, her parental rights will be suspended. The judge's expectation reflects a pervasive and appalling ignorance about the complex process of language learning. Regrettably, such ignorance also plagues the educational system, wherein simplistic notions of language learning still inform instructional practices with disastrous consequences for non-English-speaking students. Multitudes of students from linguistically different backgrounds are invariably labeled failures as measured by their performance on standardized achievement tests. In reality, these students are casualties of misguided language policies. Read the rest at: http://susanohanian.org/show_atrocities.php?id=4814

Language Born of Colonialism Thrives Again in Amazon
By Larry Rother - SÃO GABRIEL DA CACHOEIRA, Brazil
When the Portuguese arrived in Brazil five centuries ago, they encountered a fundamental problem: the indigenous peoples they conquered spoke more than 700 languages. Rising to the challenge, the Jesuit priests accompanying them concocted a mixture of Indian, Portuguese and African words they called "língua geral," or the "general language," and imposed it on their colonial subjects. Elsewhere in Brazil, língua geral as a living, spoken tongue died off long ago. But in this remote and neglected corner of the Amazon where Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela meet, the language has not only managed to survive, it has made a remarkable comeback in recent years. Fascinating, and you can read more about it at:

Europe’s English-speaking peoples
By Abram De Swaan - Manila Times
THE European Union has a single currency, but what about a single language? Since its inception, the EU has made each member state’s language one of its official tongues. Recently, even Irish, spoken at home by only a tiny minority was granted full official status.Treating all EU languages on the same footing is a direct consequence of the formal equality of member states under the founding treaties. It is also a matter of democratic principle that laws are written in the language of every land where they apply. But the EU’s posture as a protector of linguistic diversity cannot hide the stampede toward English that is underway. The more languages, it seems, the more English. Yet, the European Commission still encourages young Europeans to learn as many different languages as possible. It would be politically lethal to acknowledge the real state of affairs, even if the official policy merely increases the chances that Europeans, after all their efforts, still may not understand each other. Read more of this opinion piece at: http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2005/sept/09/yehey/opinion/20050909opi5.html

Resources you might be interested in...

Major new study on bilingual education!!!

The big picture: A meta-analysis of program effectiveness research on English language learners.
Educational Policy, 19, 572-594
Rolstad, K., Mahoney, K., Glass, G. V. (2005).
Just what you might guess... Once again we see that structured immersion isn't as effective as bilingual instruction; and studies claiming the opposite, have fatal flaws. In case you need ammunition, you can download the document at:
This comes on the heels of the apparent "downplaying" of another study favorable to bilingual education last spring:

Is Bilingual Education Report Being Downplayed?
The government will not publish a report it commissioned on bilingual education -- and critics say that's because the Bush administration disagrees with the findings, which cast doubt on the efficacy of teaching immigrant children through English-only lessons. The U.S. Education Department appointed the National Literacy Panel, a non-partisan group of university researchers, in May 2002 to do a two-year study taking "a good, hard look at the existing research" on bilingual education. At the time, Russ Whitehurst, assistant secretary for Education Research and Improvement, noted that the No Child Left Behind education reform law "puts a strong emphasis on using education practices and programs based on sound, scientifically-based research." The new findings were submitted in draft form last spring, but the panel's chairman on Wednesday said Whitehurst plans to give publishing rights back so the panel can find its own publisher. That brought criticism from Bruce Fuller, a professor at the University of California-Berkeley, who says thedecision echoes others in which the administration has downplayed research with which it disagreed. You can read the rest at:
NOTE: The report on bilingual education has been published already: Slavin, R. and Cheung, A. 2005. “A synthesis of research of reading instruction for English language learners,” Review of Educational Research 75(2): 247-284.

T·ELL·E-GRAM is a monthly electronic newsletter for preK-12 educators of English language learners (ELLs) sponsored by Reading Rockets and the American Federation of Teachers. It is a part of ColorinColorado.org, a free Web site with an educators' area for teachers, paraprofessionals, and administrators who work with preK-12 English language learners. The Web site also contains a bilingual area with information, activities, and advice on helping children learn to read and succeed at school for Spanish-speaking parents . I signed up for it, but I haven't received an issue yet. I'll let you know what it's like after I've seen it. But if you're interested, you can get more information and sign up at: http://www.colorincolorado.org/newsletter/

New article from Stephen Krashen over the summer.
Comprehensible Output
The comprehensible output (CO) hypothesis states that we acquire language when we attempt to transmit a message but fail and have to try again. Eventually, we arrive at the correct form of our utterance, our conversational partner finally understands, and we acquire the new form we have produced. The originator of the comprehensible output hypothesis, Merrill Swain (Swain, 1985), does not claim that CO is responsible for all or even most of our language competence. Rather, the claim is that "sometimes, under some conditions, output facilitates second language learning in ways that are different form, or enhance, those of input" (Swain and Lapkin, 1995, p. 371). A look at the data, however, shows that even this weak claim is hard to support. Available for free downloading or just read it at: http://www.sdkrashen.com.


I hope you all had a great summer, and that the start of school has gone smoothly! My own summer was fascinating. The last issue of E-Comp! included the news that I was about to make a trip to Bucaramanga, Colombia to work with two dyslexic teenagers. It was a very interesting couple of weeks, and I learned a great deal.

One of the things I learned is that Colombia today is very different from Colombia of just a few years ago. The region I visited is very secure; there is no insurrectionist violence in Bucaramanga and its environs, nor has there been for quite some time. A few years ago, Colombians had given up traveling between cities by land because anyone in a car could be kidnapped either by left wing revolutionaries or right wing para-miltaries, and put to work in the coca fields that provide the funding for both sides of the 40-year old conflict there. But these days, particularly in the Andean region of the country, security is good enough that people have begun traveling by car again. There was not a single moment during my two weeks there when I didn't feel every bit as safe as I would at home.

Bucaramanga is a city of about 1.5 million. It's located in the Andes, at about 3,500 feet, and the temperature was about 78 degrees throughout my stay. The humidity was intense, so if felt much warmer. There's a major fault that runs through that area of the country, so Bucaramanga is prone to earthquakes and tremors. There have been no major earthquakes in Bucaramanga in the last 35 years or so, and I felt no tremors while I was there.

It's a modern city, with American style malls, wide streets full of cars and buses, cell phones, cable TV with programing in English as well as Spanish, great traditional Colombian food to be had in many excellent restaurants, as well as McDonald's for those who just have to have some fast food now and then. On the outskirts of the city is a lovely colonial town, "Girón", where all the buildings either date from the early 1900s, or are built in that style. In Girón it's against the law for any business sign to stand out from the wall it's posted on - no electric or neon signs allowed. Sleepy, tranquil, gorgeous parks and ancient churches, cobblestone streets with narrow sidewalks, it's a favorite place for "Bumangueses" to get married. (Me, I'd like an office there!)

Beautiful country. Birds singing strange songs all day, tropical plants in bloom, houses are built to let nature in. In fact, you feel as if you live half in and half outside most of the time. Visitors like me need a bottle of "Off" or "Cutters" though, as a variety of biting and stinging insects wander in and out along with the birds and humans, and window screens seem not to have been discovered yet.

Schools there are demanding. When I asked my two clients how many classes they were taking, they each answered "twenty." Impossible, you may think... but you'd be wrong. They do indeed take 20 classes all year long, but this is managed by most of those not meeting every day. Just as much to learn, but less instructional time. In case any of you experience "math anxiety", note that in Colombia you can't get a high school (bachillerato) diploma without passing Calculus. Bachillerato is actually the equivalent of our highschool diploma and a two-year stint a a community college, so those students who make it through are quite well educated.
It was a great experience and I'd not hesitate to return. In fact, I'm hoping to go back in January and give a talk on dyslexia to teachers, who have little to no information about it. By January it'll be chilly enough here that the heat of Bucaramanga will be very welcome!

In June, shortly before the trip to Bucaramanga, Colombia to work with two dyslexic teens, I posted a Spanish translation of my dyslexia correction website on the internet. I was astounded to discover that within a few weeks, most of the "hits" at the website were on the Spanish pages. At this time, over 80% of the interest at the website comes from South America, Mexico and Spain. So... after traveling to Colombia in June, my work in dyslexia correction also took me to Quito, Ecuador in August. Next month I'll tell you a little about that experience!

Meanwhile, next Wednesday will see me flying to San Juan, Puerto Rico, again to provide dyslexia correction for a young person. You're likely to hear about that trip too, one of these days! Don't know how long this little boom of Latin American clients will last, but I'm determined to enjoy it as long as it does!

Enjoy the fall!

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