Summer camp improves elementary school students' English

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- The Little Rock School District has hired more than 25 teachers from all over the county this summer to help elementary school students learning English as a second language at Camp Can Do.

The students vary from first to fifth grade and are mentored depending on their level of English proficiency. They go through courses that integrate sciences, social students and math to prepare them for the upcoming school year.

Emma Mateo has been teaching third grade English at Camp Can Do this month. The students who volunteered to participate tend to speak their native language at home with family. Teachers speak and understand their native languages, to help them associate the academic words in English. Mateo explained that she uses words that the children understand in their first language and helps them understand the similarities of the words in English. Mateo said, "For example, I tell them speak in Ingles, or speak in English."

Mateo has incorporated subjects that aren't in the student's everyday vocabulary. She's through subjects like vocabulary terms involving city, rural and urban life.

Nine-year old Ximena Gonzalez says she's grown a lot this month. She said, "Ever since I've been here, I've improved on my reading and my writing." Gonzalez' reading and English comprehension were assessed during the school year, her teacher suggested she go to camp to prepare her for fourth grade.

She says it's usually hard to retain what she learned during the summer. "I feel like I have to talk more in my own language than other different languages because for my parents to understand what I'm saying."

Karen Broadnax from the Little Rock School District The school district is not allowed to hold back elementary school students due to language issues.

Karen Broadnax, the director of Multi-lingual Services Compliance works closely with the Little Rock School District. She says there are many factors that go into making a retention decision, "We want to be sure that even if our students are not fully where they need to be that we're giving them as much additional support to get them to where they need to be."


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