Oakland School District program helps refugees break language barrier

Click here to my article published on Oakland North.

“Yes,” said Hajiia Fun in a soft voice, nervously laughing after she was asked by Nate Dunstan from the Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD) refugee and asylee Program if she could help translate for her fellow classmates. Speaking Arabic, she told two other mothers that a group of staff members were there to aid them with student registration and introduce them to support services offered by the district.

The women were attending an English as a Second Language (ESL) beginners class at Allendale Elementary School, which is in Fruitvale. According to the Asian Pacific Islander (API) Student Achievement Initiative, the district’s Arabic-speaking and API students struggle the most when it comes to literacy. Members of the initiative say there is a gap in communication and educational support between these students and their families, as some of these families do not speak English, and some are even illiterate…

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