Communicating using a non-native language can be challenging and often creates a sense of separation.
This semester, Missouri State University began the Removing Barriers program to promote equity for English language learners.
The program provides English instruction to parents of English language learners who attend Springfield Public Schools and live primarily in the Briarwood Mobile Home Park.
“The English instruction helps break down the barrier of language to allow the parents of these children to truly thrive in the Springfield community,” said Dr. Amber Howard, clinical instructor of childhood education and family studies at Missouri State University.
“These language skills open up so many doors for these families.”
How it works
The program started through partnership between the English Language Institute (ELI), Sherwood Elementary, the College of Education and the English Language Development program at Springfield Public Schools, and it is funded through a Collective Impact grant from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO).
The ELI worked with MSU students enrolled in ELE 501 to teach them how to provide language courses to newcomer English learners.
Then, the MSU students work directly with English learners and their parents.
During each session, the group meets at Sherwood Elementary for a meal, and each adult who attends receives a $20 gift card. After the meal, the MSU students give engaging lessons to both the adults and the children.
The lessons help individuals develop English language skills. These lessons create a natural bridge between home, school and community, and they provide opportunities for real-life practice for the MSU students.
“The families are so kind, and the children have such a fun time playing games while their parents participate in the language classes,” said Haley Hall, an elementary education student at MSU.
A brighter future
The program provides valuable experiences for both the families and the MSU students.
Noah Lanear, another MSU student, said, “We learn just as much from the parents and their children as they learn from us.”
The families learn real world skills to help them in the workforce and develop skills to pass on to their children and communities.
The MSU students learn how to better help English language learner students and their families. They can use these skills in their classrooms, and their students can bring those skills home to their families.
“The Removing Barriers program has been so helpful for everyone involved. For us MSU students, it gives us a unique learning experience that we haven’t had in any other class,” Hall said.