Special Report
Equity & Diversity

School, Community Backing Bolsters Immigrant Students

By Nirvi Shah & Sean Cavanagh — January 09, 2012 2 min read
A student takes an after-school Urdu class at the Crescent Town Public School, in Toronto.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Every morning, 3-year-old Keerthika Gnaneshan visits the Crescent Town Public School, located on the southeast side of this city, where she plays games, sings songs, and participates in other activities that build her reading and numeracy skills.

She comes with her mother, Sri Lanka native Sithra Gnaneshan, who says she knows it is critical for her children to learn English. Gnaneshan also took her older daughter, who now attends Crescent Town, to the same literacy program a few years ago.

The school serves an economically disadvantaged and diverse population of students who speak more than 50 different languages. The Gnaneshan family’s first language is Tamil.

“They have to learn everything in English in school, and to communicate,” the mother says. “They know the mother tongue [but] they can’t do it here. ... It’s the main thing for them, the language.”

The center, which encourages parents to use those activities with their children at home, is characteristic of how Canada works with immigrant students and their families. The country is one of the few where immigrant students have access to at least the same or greater resources at school as do native students.

Canada’s immigration policies encourage educated professionals to come to the country. And, because Canada admits immigrants to fill specific economic needs, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development noted in a 2011 report, they generally aren’t seen as a threat. For them to thrive means Canada thrives. The country, historically a blend of English- and French-speaking cultures, has opened its doors to new arrivals from other backgrounds.

Terry Cui, 13, immigrated to Canada with his parents as a child from Chengdu, China. He attends the high-performing David Lewis Public School in Toronto. Many of his classmates are Chinese immigrants or the sons or daughters of immigrants.

See Also

Read about efforts to help foreign-born students and children learning new languages in this Quality Counts 2012 article: “Educating Immigrant Students a Challenge in U.S., Elsewhere”

Terry speaks Mandarin at home, and he says his English skills have steadily improved over the years, thanks to increasing doses of English-language training he received, and through conversation with classmates and teachers. Today, he speaks in English with confidence and clarity.

Terry said his parents didn’t have the same opportunities he did. He’s in the school math club, on the volleyball team, and plays with a school rock band. He wants to attend the University of Toronto, or McGill University, in Montreal, and become a cardiovascular surgeon. He says his parents encourage his ambitions.

“They say anything is fine as long as I’m successful,” Terry says. “They say that back in their day, they couldn’t do anything like that.”

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama
Student Achievement Webinar Examining the Evidence: What We’re Learning From the Field About Implementing High-Dosage Tutoring Programs
Tutoring programs have become a leading strategy to address COVID-19 learning loss. What evidence-based principles can district and school leaders draw on to design, implement, measure, and improve high-quality tutoring programs? And what are districts

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity 4 Changes Schools Can Make To Recruit Teachers of Color And Keep Them Around
Experts outline five ways to attract and retain more teachers of color
10 min read
Freda Arnold chats with some of her students at Booker Junior High school in Little Rock, Ark., on Dec. 21, 1965. Arnold is one of four white educators on the faculty of the all-Black school.
Freda Arnold chats with some of her students at Booker Junior High school in Little Rock, Ark., on Dec. 21, 1965. Arnold is one of four white educators on the faculty of the all-Black school.
AP
Equity & Diversity The Vast Majority of School Boards Lack Latino Voices. What Can Be Done About It?
Diverse school board members means more opportunities for equitable policies, Latino leaders say
5 min read
Stephanie Parra, Governing Board Member at Phoenix Union School District and Executive Director of ALL in Education Arizona, sits for a portrait at the nonprofit’s space at Galvanize Phoenix in downtown Phoenix, Ariz. on Nov. 15, 2021. Phoenix Union is majority BIPOC students, but school board and educator demographics in Arizona lag behind in representation and opportunity.
Stephanie Parra, Governing Board Member at Phoenix Union School District and Executive Director of ALL in Education Arizona, sits for a portrait at the nonprofit’s space at Galvanize Phoenix in downtown Phoenix, Ariz. on Nov. 15, 2021. Phoenix Union is majority BIPOC students, but school board and educator demographics in Arizona lag behind in representation and opportunity.
Caitlin O’Hara for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Infographic How Do Educators Feel About Staff Diversity? We Asked
Educators of color and white educators have different opinions on whether and how administrators should address the lack of staff diversity.
1 min read
Image of chairs lined up.
marchmeena29/iStock/Getty
Equity & Diversity Opinion 'What Are You Doing to Help Students Understand Systemic Racism and Combat It?'
Creating the conditions for effective dialogues and incorporating student voice are two ways to help students become anti-racist.
11 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty