Detroit Public Schools expands bilingual offerings to students and families to serve diverse population

District also is offering teachers a new opportunity for tuition reimbursement to increase the number of bilingually-endorsed teachers

To meet the needs of its diverse body of students and families, Detroit Public Schools is expanding its bilingual and English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) offerings to students and parents and has announced a new opportunity for teachers to seek tuition reimbursement if they obtain a Bilingual Endorsement. The deadline to apply is Friday, Nov. 21.

“Our school district serves a richly diverse population of students, and we are excited to be able to offer a wider variety of programming to meet their needs,” said Emergency Manager Jack Martin. “We also know that our state and local leaders are working hard to create programs to attract and serve our immigrant population, and we want to be at the forefront of those initiatives.”

DPS serves more than 6,000 bilingual students, speaking 30 different languages in schools throughout the district, helping them to learn the English Language and American culture while mastering core subject areas.

Languages Spoken Total Bilingual Students
Spanish 4,972
Bengali 522
Arabic 258
Romanian 34
Hmong 29
Other 277
Grand Total 6,092

According to a 2014 report by Global Detroit, Metro Detroit is home to Foreign-born immigrants from all continents, except Antarctica. In total, there are more than 100 nations that are individually represented in the data. The Detroit area is home to approximately 397,000 immigrants living in all four counties. Oakland and Wayne are home to the vast majority, the report states.

Of Wayne County’s 1,820,584 residents, 142,213 are Foreign-born residents, totaling 7.8 percent of the population. The City of Detroit’s Foreign-born population is about 4 percent, according to Global Detroit.

Some of the new and expanded offerings at DPS include:

  • As part of a pilot last year, DPS established a new English Language Learner online course through Mango Languages at four schools — Maybury, Roberto Clemente, Gardner, and Academy of the Americas, as well as for parents involved in the City Wide Bilingual Multicultural Advisory Council. Online course accounts were created for more than 400 parents. Two schools have been added this year – Earhart and Clippert.  A training was offered for all teachers on Nov. 4 so that every Bilingual teacher and teacher of Bilingual children can have access to language courses to better communicate with parents and students. Those languages include Spanish, Bengali, Arabic, and Romanian. Through Mango Languages, all bilingual students and their parents have access to ESL courses from 17 different languages.
  • To meet the needs of bilingual students, DPS announced that funding is available to assist certified staff who are currently employed in the district and would like to obtain a Bilingual Endorsement. DPS hopes to increase the number of teachers who secure a bilingual endorsement in these target languages: Arabic, Chaldean, Bengali, Hmong, Romanian and Spanish.
  • The district this fall expanded the successful Academy of the Americas K-8 program by adding a 9th grade academy. The school, called the Escuela Preparatoria Academia de las Americas, offers a dual language curriculum, honors classes, and rigorous academic standards. It is part of an overall rollout of several major educational initiatives in Southwest Detroit, including a new gifted and talented program, a new adult education site, and much more. DPS also offers dual immersion language classes at the Foreign Language Immersion and Cultural Studies School (FLICS) and Maybury Elementary.
  • Detroit Public Schools offers English as a Second Language Adult Education courses at the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, Earhart Elementary-Middle School, Priest Elementary School, Gardner Elementary and Western International High School, as well as new programs at the Academy of the Americas, Bennett Elementary School, and Neinas Elementary, which will have their first full year of operation this year. The district serves more than 500 Adult Education ESL students a year.

Two of the district’s 8 Parent Resource Centers (Priest and Bennett) offer bilingual staff and workshops translated in Arabic and Spanish. Staff members, who are from those communities, build relationships with the parents to ensure they are comfortable and their needs are met.  The hours for each center have been adjusted to 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday to accommodate the requests of parents. Both locations have ESL classes for the parents and an environment that is welcoming to their younger children.

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