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WPS continues to see changes among ESOL population

WPS continues to see changes among ESOL population

Map of Languages The Wichita Public Schools continues to see changes among its students who come from families that speak a language other than English. Ken Jantz and Stephanie Bird-Hutchison from Multilingual Education Services recently shared with the Board of Education how the ESOL population is changing, and how the district works to help ESOL students to become proficient in English. Click here to read the presentation.  Click here to watch the presentation.

There are 109 unique languages spoken in the homes of students. The ten largest language groups are English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, Lao, Swahili, Cambodian, the Chinese family of languages, Bengali and French.

The district’s ESOL population has increased almost 4,400 students over the past twelve years. This year, 9,846 students are in ESOL programs, which is more than 19.5% of the student population. WPS has students who were born in 94 different countries. Other than the U.S., the largest numbers of students have come from Mexico, Vietnam, Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Honduras. The number of new students from Central America and Africa has increased significantly over the past 3 years. Recently there have been changes to the types of languages spoken in students’ homes, with a significant increase in students speaking Arabic and Swahili.

The district has also seen an increase of refugee families coming from Africa, the Middle East and Asia. In the fall of 2016, WPS enrolled 332 refugee children. That can create challenges for schools because many students have never been in a formal school setting or received any education at all, but ESOL staff work tirelessly to help those students become successful in their English-speaking classrooms.