Schools for Kids Who Don't Speak English
Archived Q&A and Reviews
I have an 11 year old Spanish speaking boy who has a basic level in English and would like to enroll him in a School in the Berkeley area during his summer vacations for him to learn and practice English. In Peru his summer vacations are in January - February 2012. I would appreciate any information about procedures, schools or programs that my son could apply to. Veronica
You might look at Walden Center & School , a private K-6 school in central Berkeley. During the time my child has attended, several foreign students have joined the school for varying periods of time and have done well. At least two of the teachers speak fluent Spanish, and many of the students also speak at varying levels. Mary
My stepson, who lives in Germany, wants to spend a year living with us in the US.
Here's the thing, my husband and I have never dealt with the school system here and don't even know where to begin. We don't have other children and are not familiar with how to enroll.
He'll be 14 in September, and has relatively good English skills, but not quite fluent. We're not sure what grade he should start in. He's small and still quite young for his age. We can't afford private schools and live in Oakland. Do we have to apply for magnets? Do testing, etc? When do schools even start? We're clueless!
Does anyone know of a resource to help guide us through this very overwhelming process? sr
My wife is very familiar with the German school system and we have been a host family for several European students. You first need to find out if you out if he is eligible to attend school and then if they will allow him to attend. This is something you should start doing now. One of our exchange students wasn't allowed to attend school in Oakland even though we lived in Oakland. (Has to do with funding.)
She wound up going to school in Berkeley. Piedmont and Acalanes school districts are friendly to foreign students. You might also inquire at Private schools as many times they offer scholarships for foreign students.
You need to find out what classes he is taking and how he is doing/grades. The school districts have information on class equivalence. You should contact The German School of the East Bay. (This might be your best resource.) They meet in Oakland on Saturdays. If you need assistance my wife and I would be hppay to assist, just post.
Oakland has the Oakland International School, a public school located in the old Carter Middle School on 45th Street near Telegraph. It is specifically for students who have recently arrived in the U.S., so if he needs English language support, this would be a good place to be. Anon
Hi BPN, We know a family that received political asylum in the US after several family members were murdered for political reasons in their home country. Their 11 year old daughter is about to arrive in the US on her new visa in two weeks. Her family wants to know how and where to get her into school and is very worried about this transition. On the one hand, they are thinking it might be better to wait and not enroll her right now. This girl has been attending school in her home country, but she comes from a very small Mayan village. Her first language is a Mayan dialect. She learned Spanish in school but speaks no English. They think that the culture shock might be too much trying to put her in middle school as soon as she arrives.
At the same time, they want her to meet people and to start learning English as soon as possible. She is a very smart girl, good at basketball but rather shy. The family lives in the Fruitvale District and so would be in Oakland Unified.
I am wondering if any BPNers have any advice. Should she try to enroll now? Are there any special programs she should try to get into? Is there a summer school program, even a basketball camp that she should try to get into? Is there an Oakland school that she should TRY to get into?
Thank you for ANY advice on this. Eleven is such a tough age. I want her transition to the US to be as easy as possible! Rebecca
I know that there is a basketball camp for girls at Holy Names University , not far from the Fruitvale district. Not sure who runs it, but it's worth looking into - it seems like a small group, which wouldn't be too overwhelming. anon
Please let your friends know about Lighthouse Community Charter School in downtown Oakland as a possibility for their 11 year old, whether for now or next year. There may not be anyone there who speaks her home language (tho it's possible that there is, I just don't know), but many of the young people and/or their families have experienced coming to the US and learning english as a second or third language. Our 13 year old started there midyear (february) in 6th grade a year and a half ago and the school culture (compassion, respect, responsibility) made the transition much better than I'd thought it might go. An LCCS parent
Hi- You might check with Oakland Unified School District regarding middle schools where there is primarily instruction in Spanish with English Language Development as a large part of the program. I'm almost positive they should have something like this for situations just like this one. Best of luck to her in finding the right school! Laura
Rebecca, I would recommend Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland - K-12 for the family coming from the Mayan village. Their purpose is to focus on the underserved in the Fruitvale district. The majority are Spanish speaking students and families. Most teachers are bilingual. (I'm not sure how to address the need to learn English though. I'm trying to find such a program for my 15 year old nephew. It seems like a lot of the programs are for adults.) Anyway, Lighthouse might be the place for this family and they may still have room in her grade. Celia