The School District of Philadelphia’s Office of Multilingual Curriculum and Programs announced that from Aug. 1 to 31, families with children new to this country can complete the new student registration process with the support of translation and interpretation services at district headquarters, 400 North Broad St.
“I think it’s extremely important,” said Deborah Wei, director of Multilingual Curriculum and Programs. “We have a large number of kids coming from different areas of the world. And navigating any bureaucratic system like the school district is very complex for anybody. But if you don’t speak English, you’re new to the country and you don’t understand different options, it can be very confusing.”
At least four teachers and four support staff members will be at the center to assist parents through registration, provide resources and information about the district and the community, screen children for English for Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) or bilingual programs, and inform parents about workshops and sessions throughout the school year.
With a curriculum to improve English language skills and cultural understanding, ESOL helps students develop their listening, speaking, reading and writing abilities.
The Transitional Bilingual Program teaches content area instruction in two languages. Students in kindergarten through second-grade receive literacy and math in their native language and science and social studies in English. It is the reverse for third- through fifth-grade students who are taught literacy and math in English and science and social studies in their native language.
Additionally, the Dual Language Program provides literacy content in both English and Spanish, and the Newcomer Learning Academies has an accelerated course, six months to one year, for students transitioning into an ESOL program at their school.
The languages spoken by district students include Spanish, Chinese, French, Vietnamese, Albanian, Arabic, Khmer or Cambodian, Russian and at least 50 other languages.
Last year, the Enrollment Center registered and assessed more then 623 students -including students from more than 70 countries, speaking more than 40 different languages. According to Wei, she said there might not be an increase of students this year, but the office is expecting for similar student numbers.
The press release stated that any student that speaks a language other than English is welcome to seek assistance with enrollment and assessment at the Enrollment Center. For more information call (215) 400-4240, and select the number one for the Enrollment Center. Registration will be available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m to 6 p.m.
“We’re trying to do this one stop shop where you just come to one place, get all your questions answered, get all your assessment done and get properly placed,” Wei said.