December 1, 2012

Article Focuses on Bilingual Program in East Central Illinois


Rantoul program aims to build English fluency
by Dave Hinton
November 23, 2012

Jacqueline Hoke slips what she calls the "magic scarf" around her neck, and the students in her classroom know that now it is time to speak only English.

Hoke, a first-grade teacher of bilingual students at Eastlawn School in Rantoul, said her students' English-speaking ability varies widely — some not speaking much of the language while others are more proficient.

Hoke, a Mahomet native, learned the magic scarf trick when she was a student teacher last year in the Chicago Public School system. She said children seem to be better able to transfer from one language to another when visual means are employed.

Now in her first year with her own classroom, Hoke said she learned a lot in her year teaching in a dual-language program in Chicago, which she said was "rough at times."

Hoke is one of 14 people employed by the Rantoul City Schools district who help bilingual students, who are also classified as English language learners.

Just two years ago, the district employed one person — an aide — in the bilingual program, according to Jason Wallace, principal of Eastlawn School, where a large number of the bilingual students attend. A total of 216 English language learner students are enrolled in RCS, and 99 of them are in kindergarten through second grade at Eastlawn.

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