Bilingual teens share value of reading

Most foreign language teachers would agree that the best way for students to learn a new language is to immerse themselves in the culture.

But what’s that person to do if the cultural shift takes place before the student understands the subtleties of his or her native tongue?

“Read,” said Hood River Valley High School junior Miguel Villegas, a Mexican student who is improving his reading and writing in both English and Spanish in Mary Ann Hay’s Spanish for Native Speakers class. “We want to help younger kids learn both languages by teaching them the importance of reading,” he said.

But when Villegas and the other 20

students in the class visited May Street Elementary School on Monday to present a series of children’s books to Carlos Marroquin’s English Second Language students, they weren’t just helping educate their younger peers. They were also doing some learning of their own.

“This class has helped me improve my use of both languages,” said junior Rosario Tello. “Most of us have learned that it’s a huge advantage to be able to speak both languages well. We want to help the kids understand that.”

Tello and her project partners, Maribel Morales and Julio Vela, have been working on their illustrated, bilingual children’s book, Soy un Pequeno Insecto — “I’m a Small Insect” — for the past three weeks.

Monday’s visit to May Street was phase two of their class project — a project that Hay hopes will help her students attain a Certificate of Advanced Mastery (CAM) at the CAM Expo May 8 in The Dalles.

“The third phase isn’t a requirement of the class, but we do encourage students to take the next step,” she said. “A project like this not only teaches them to read and write better, but it gives them a taste of the real world.”

Students who choose to forgo the expo will still have an opportunity to earn their CAM by pursuing a Career Pathways Certificate. That certification, when combined with a Certificate of Initial Mastery (CIM), automatically becomes a CAM.

“Even if the kids don’t pursue the CAM next month, this project and this class have helped them to read and write better in their native language,” Hay said. “Most of them don’t read for fun, and we hope an activity like this will make reading more of a fun activity for them.”

Hay’s class will continue to present its books to elementary students throughout the week, but after just one day, it was apparent how much both groups had benefitted.

“Our main goal is for the kids to learn to read well,” Villegas said.

“After working with us, we hope they understand how much reading can do for them.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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