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Free English Classes Opened for Immigrants
From World Journal
July 6th, 2003

Recent Chinese immigrants are among the students registered in the new summer intensive English class at the United Fujinese of America Association in Chinatown. One such student, Zhu Wen-Hao, arrived in New York City three months ago from Fuzhou, China. He was hoping to begin his junior high school studies when the school year begins in September.

Cai Qi-Nan, board member of the 25th school district, expressed sympathy for Zhu at a July 5th news conference. According to Cai, Zhu could have actually attended school upon arrival in New York. Many students like Zhu are missing the opportunity for education because parents do not understand the American education system. Fortunately, community organizations such as the United Fujinese of America Association can provide them with rare chances of education.

Beginning on July 7th, the Association will start offering free summer English class to help newly arrived junior and senior high school students to learn basic English skills and adapt to their new environment. Zhu is one of the registered students. His father said he has been waiting at home to go to school since his arrival in New York. According to Cai Qi-Nan, New York has an open educational system. Students can enroll at any time. This means Zhu can register immediately and have the chance to improve his English. However, most new immigrants lack deep understanding of the system.

The Association’s chairman Wong Wei-Hua said that because the Seward Park High School -- the only bilingual high school education in Chinatown -- will soon be closed, newly arrived immigrants will lack access to bilingual education and will face more difficulties adapting to their new lives here. This makes many new immigrants’ parents worried. [The Department of Education has decided to close Seward Park High School, and open a new school. Still, it is not clear whether the new school will provide bilingual education for new Chinese immigrants]

Every week, from Monday to Thursday, two classes will be open each day separately for high school students and adults learning basic and intermediary English. Pan Xiao-Yu of PS 56 has volunteered to instruct the classes. Pan said that new immigrant students from Fujian not only respect teachers but also study hard. They have been her favorite students.

Student Wong Ding-Kun came here only a few months ago (with his sister and their mother to unite with ten-year separated father).

Wong had studied English for two years in a middle school in Changle (a city in the Fujian province in China) but, he said, “the pronunciation is very different, and I feel I have never studied.” Another student, Chen Jie, although studying for three months at a junior high school in Flushing, said that there are very few students coming from Fuzhou to his school. His English level is lower than that of other Chinese students, and he feels a lot of pressure in his studies.

Cai Qi-Nan explained that because of the dialectical difference, English becomes the largest obstacle in educational pursuit for children who come from Fuzhou. This year’s summer is also especially long and the school will not open until the 8th of September. She is very happy to see such educational opportunities provided by the United Fujinese of American Association.

New immigrant high school students and adults are eligible for registering the classes. The Association’s contact phone number is (212) 227-0505.

Translated from Chinese by Michael Huang.


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