May 21, 2012 9:40 PM by Nikki Ibarra

Local students honored for mastering English

The Paso Robles School District honored a group of students Monday, who've mastered the English language.

It's called a "re-classification" ceremony. The students started school speaking fluent Spanish, and knew very little English, but are now fluent in English.

The California Department of Education tests all students not fluent in English and enrolls them in the "English Language Learners" program.

In order to "re-classify", the students have to master reading, writing, speaking and listening. For these students, 30 minutes of their day has been focused on learning English.

"I was always looking forward to this. I'm like, When am I going to get an award? It's like, I hope I get one," said Iveth Cortes, a fifth-grader at Georgia Brown Elementary School.

Iveth Cortes will enter junior high next Fall, as a fluent English speaker. "It's important to communicate with people. You can have more friends and a good job and you could have more friends than you could have expected," said Cortes.

Iveth grew up speaking Spanish with her mom, and a little English with her dad. So when she started going to school at Georgia Brown, she knew very little English.

"It was pretty complicated and it was really hard to say things because sometimes kids made fun," added Cortes.

Karen Grandoli, a third-grade teacher, and the English language learner co-coordinator at the school, said almost 50% of the students who start at the school speak only Spanish.

"We know that we live in a country where English is the language you have to know," said Grandoli. "We know at the end of the day they have to speak, read, write English at a very high level in order to be successful and go on to college and have uh, jobs in the future."

Now, Iveth enjoys her new role as: teacher. She said one of her favorite things is to teach her parents and younger brother English.

"I'm pretty proud of myself for becoming bilingual," said Cortes.


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