Over half the 26,000 students at Socorro High were at one point, English learners, making the $1.8 million-dollars the U.S. Department of Education approved for Socorro ISD and UTEP come in handy.
The grant will fund a program called Project LEAD, a five-year effort to improve skills of teachers who work with English learners.
Project Lead provides the tuition money for Socorro teachers who will then come here to UTEP where they'll take courses in translanguaging that they can then bring back to their classrooms.
Haza Barasheed comes from the United Arab Emirates and will be learning English through translanguaging techniques.
“Let’s say for example, they've been discussing something as a whole group, right and she now puts them into smaller groups, to discuss, to research,” said Elena Izquierdo, translanguaging co-principal investigator at UTEP. “So students get into their smaller groups and they're talking. So they can use their language so that they can communicate better because they're focused on the content.”
Instead of just learning how to speak the language, students at Socorro will learn math, science and history in English and in an atmosphere that fosters their native language.
“The kids are coming with a strong academic foundation from Mexico but we want to make sure we bridge that academic vocabulary from Mexico and they start learning that academic vocabulary here in Socorro High School,” said Principal Michael Serrano.
Serrano is hopeful translanguaging will help English-learning students excel in rigorous STARR testing and ensure they're better prepared for college and the American job market.