Local school is breaking the language barrier - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Local school is breaking the language barrier

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They're coming into the Heartland in growing numbers and from a growing number of countries. They're coming into the Heartland in growing numbers and from a growing number of countries.
He's come a long way since kindergarten when teachers say he hardly knew a word. He's come a long way since kindergarten when teachers say he hardly knew a word.
First Grader Jackie Zhang shows how much he's learning at Franklin Elementary. First Grader Jackie Zhang shows how much he's learning at Franklin Elementary.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

It's a challenge Cape Girardeau Public Schools are embracing, teaching English to little ones that may not know the language.

They're coming into the Heartland in growing numbers and from a growing number of countries.

Elementary school teachers and students are about taking on the hurdles, and crossing the language barrier.

First Grader Jackie Zhang shows how much he's learning at Franklin Elementary. He's come a long way since kindergarten when teachers say he hardly knew a word.

Jackie talks about his favorite part of the day.

"My favorite is eating," said Jackie. "I like food that is hamburger and pizza and hot dogs."

Teacher Sarah Pourney says in order to translate, teachers have to use a lot of pictures and word recognition.

"When he doesn't understand he'll point to the directions or the picture and he will point to what the word is," said Pourney.

Jackie's kindergarten teacher can't believe his progress.

Principal Rhonda Dunham says crossing language barriers leads to a unique classroom experience.

Franklin has almost a dozen international students with many more across the district.

"It's interesting to see how these kids just take each other in and take care of each other," Dunham said.

To meet the challenge they bring in a special English teacher, as well as incorporate simple matching exercises.

In Jamie Reynolds' class, she says handwriting lessons help Spanish speaking students like Jessica blossom.

"It's writing the lefties and saying the letters and the sounds," said Reynolds.

As for sisters' Flor and Sarahi Salinas, they say reading out loud and practicing at home helped them speak excellent English.

Now the girls are third and fourth graders. They say sharing their culture with others and all the help from teachers and classmates also helped them fit right in.

Principal Rhonda Dunham says they often have students and their parents share their language and culture with special displays and presentations.

She says this is a challenge that's contributed to the day to day classroom experience for all students.

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