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Apple Computer Forms Consortium For Bilingual-Education Technology

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HOUSTON--Apple Computer Inc. has formed a national consortium to guide the development of technology for bilingual education and the teaching of English as a second language.

The formation of the Apple Bilingual Consortium, or A.B.C., represents a national expansion of a regional consortium the company established two years ago in Southern California. Apple officials announced the expansion here late last month at the annual conference of the National Association for Bilingual Education.

"Technology offers an opportunity to reach bilingual students with multilingual, multisensory instruction that is not dependent on their ability to read in English,'' Javier Villalobos, Apple's manager of bilingual and E.S.L. marketing, said in making the announcement.

"The focus of A.B.C.,'' he said, "will be to look beyond today's use of diverse technology and develop products and programs that give students equal access to education, regardless of their background.''

The educational-software publishers affiliated with the group include Broderbund Software, Claris Corporation, Computer Curriculum Corporation, Jostens Learning Corporation, Scholastic Inc., Sunburst Communications, the Learning Company, and Tom Snyder Productions Inc.

Among the bilingual-education officials involved with the consortium are Joel Gomez, the director of the National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education; Carmen Perez Hogan, the director of the bilingual-education division of the New York State Department of Education; and Chuck Acosta, a past president of the California Association for Bilingual Education.

The initiative is the latest indicator of the educational-technology industry's growing interest in the bilingual and E.S.L. market. (See Education Week, Feb. 24, 1993.)

Studies have shown that limited-English-proficient children, who make up an increasing percentage of enrollments in many school districts, are among the students with the least access to educational technology.

Subject Areas Targeted

Initially, the Apple consortium will focus on efforts to develop bilingual software in the areas of language arts and English as a second language, history and the social sciences, and science and mathematics.

Regardless of the subject, organizers said, the consortium's efforts will be based on the belief that the curriculum content for L.E.P. students should be the same as that provided to students from an English-speaking background. Accordingly, the group will focus on the parallel development of programs in two languages.

The consortium, which plans to meet semiannually, held a special meeting at the conference here, at which other Apple initiatives in bilingual education were also announced.

Apple officials unveiled a new video, entitled "Making Connections: Learning Language Through Technology,'' that the company developed in partnership with NABE, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, and the Hispanic caucus of the National School Boards Association.

The video, which will be available April 1, highlights several school sites where technology has been used to help students learn other languages. It will be distributed by Apple, NABE, and TESOL for a nominal fee, officials said.

Apple, which also held a special two-day training session at the conference in conjunction with NABE, announced that it plans this summer to offer a bilingual Spanish and English version of its Apple Early Language Connections package, which includes hardware, software, books, and audiotapes.

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