Think of how tough it is to teach any kid to read and write. Then add that the kid speaks a different language than you.
Then imagine you are trying to teach kids who speak 80 different languages.
That's exactly the challenge teachers face daily in Cincinnati Public Schools, where 80 native languages are spoken among students. Like many urban districts, CPS has become a magnet for refugees and other immigrants who speak languages from every corner of the globe, languages like Arabic and African forms of French, but also obscure tongues that have no written components.
The cacophony puts a school like CPS's Academy of World Languages in Evanston at risk of becoming a Tower of Babel where children can't begin to learn or even navigate their way to lunch or the school bus, let alone befriend one another.
But AWL, whose original focus was to introduce native English speakers to Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Russian, has shifted most of its resources to educating children from around the world through coursework that starts with learning English.
The school's efforts are about to get a big boost this year from a $14.5 million state grant that CPS and Princeton City Schools won from Ohio's Straight A Grant fund. The districts plan to use the money to certify as many as 900 teachers in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL).
WCPO Insiders can read in depth about CPS' challenges and what the grant will fund.