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Immigration Growth in Rock Island/Milan School District

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Over the last couple of years there has been an explosion of immigrant population in the Rock Island/Milan school district.  There are around 650 students that represent 30 different countries. Since that time, schools have had to figure out how to adjust to students whose first language isn’t English.

"Ten years ago we had a very small ELL population here in Rock Island and it`s just boomed since then. I see it increasing,” says ELL teacher, Lashanta Williams.

ELL, English Language Learner, are special teachers that have been put in schools.

“The students they just come with so much to share and the different cultures, you learn something new every day,” says Williams.

A third of the school’s population came from other countries.

“Our top three languages here are Karen, which is from the country of Myanmar, Kirundi which is from Africa and Swahili,” says ELL teacher Melissa Miller.

The students are split up into different levels.

“If they`re beginning to learn the English language versus they are getting ready to exit out of the program, where they are proficiently enough to stand a long side their native English speaking peers,” says Williams.

For some students it’s not always easy says Haduardo Carilll, a student at Francis Willard, "It was a little bit harder but I got there.”

“As an ELL teacher that's our job to make them feel comfortable and know that it`s okay you`re going to struggle a little bit,” says Williams.

The best part is when it clicks for students, "I just love those days when the light bulb goes on,” says Miller.

Not only do these students get to learn about the American culture but Francis Willard holds different nationality days where the English speaking students get to learn about their cultures.

To meet the class click the video player below.