PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WJAR) — The first day of school can be exciting for children, but it can also be an anxious time for students who do not speak English.
Providence Public Schools told NBC 10 how they go out of their way to ensure multilingual learners are understood and not left behind.
Multilingual Learners Executive Director Jennifer Efflandt said there are more than 8,000 multilingual learners, and 350 of those students are in their Newcomer program.
"This is a very specific program that only families when they come to register their children, if their children have had at least two years of missed formal education and if they are just beginning to learn English," said Efflandt. "And also have limited decoding and encoding skills in their own native language."
There are 23 countries and 15 languages represented among the 350 Newcomer program students.
The most common languages are Spanish, Swahili, Arabic, and K'iche', a common dialect spoken in Guatemala.
The Newcomer program is one of several multilingual programs for students, and it is intense. Efflandt said it is an intensive program to prepare students to be ready for the next step.
"After that one or potentially one and a half years, we do integrate them, so they can go to the other middle or high schools, it's their choice," said Efflandt. "We do track how is our program doing. We just completed a three-year long study, always wanting to improve our programs year after year."
The Newcomer program is in three of the district's schools -- Fogarty Elementary, Gilbert Stuart Middle, and Central High. The program expands as the need for the services continues.
Efflandt said there are translation and interpretation services available 24/7 for Providence students and their parents.
Every school has a coach certified in English as a second language, so teachers get ongoing training to support their multilingual learners.
Efflandt reminds multilingual families to continue to embrace their culture and native languages, as they learn English.
"I want to make sure that our multilingual learners can embrace and really be proud of their language and cultures, and we can help strengthen those languages so that English doesn't become a language that takes over," said Efflandt.
If you would like to learn more about the services available, visit the Providence Public Schools website or call (401) 456-9100.
Spanish: Si desea obtener más información sobre los servicios disponibles, visite el sitio web de las Escuelas Públicas de Providence o llame al (401) 456-9100.
Swahili: Iwapo ungependa kupata maelezo zaidi kuhusu huduma zinazopatikana, tembelea tovuti ya Shule za Umma za Providence au piga simu (401) 456-9100.
Arabic: 'iidha kunt targhab fi maerifat almazid hawl alkhadamat almutahat , fatafadal biziarat mawqie madaris Providence Public Schools ealaa alwib 'aw atasal bialraqm (401) 456-9100.