Learning English on the fly

The World in Words
An adult education language class at Ahrens Educational Resource Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

This week in The World in Words, we have stories about people who learn and teach English as a Second Language (ESL). 

If you're learning English in the United States, you are probably an adult from a non-English-speaking country. I talk with Monica Campbell about this. She's The World's immigration editor, and she recently dropped by an ESL class in Mountain View, California. Mountain View is best known as the home of the world's dominant search engine. But these ESL students could have been a million miles from Google's headquarters.

Monica talks with me about her father too, a school principal. He was a volunteer ESL teacher — he loved the enthusiasm of his adult ESL students. "The Champagne of teaching," he called it. 

Also in the podcast: Joy Diaz of radio station KUT in Austin, Texas, explores her own knowledge of Arabic, via the Spanish language. 


00:00 English-proficient kids help their English-challenged parents

01:14 Monica Campbell visit an ESL class

02:23 "Their kids are learning to be Americans, but they don't have the opportunity to be Americans in the same way."     

03:23  Some schools are holding separate PTA meetings in Spanish, says Patricia Baquedano-López of UC Berkeley.

03:58 Vietnamese immigrant and ESL student Quang Dang tries to keep up with his 4-year-old daughter.

06:27 Another student from Mexico is learning English so she can ensure her special-needs daughters gets help at school. 

08:58 Monica's father and the "Champagne of teaching." 

11:37 Is there less of a demand for ESL classes? Don't some immigrants get along just fine not speaking English? 

13:04 Joy Diaz learns about Arabic and influence on Spanish from her daughter's preschool teacher.

14:07 Singers Juan Luis Guerra and Celia Cruz (unconsciously) pepper their Spanish with Arabic. 

14:45 It is, of course, all about the history of Spain. 

17:15 This wonderful song is "Bilingual Girl" by Yerba Buena.

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