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Number of ESL students increasing in Livingston Parish

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LIVINGSTON PARISH - Jacqueline Medina cannot speak English, but her two children have learned how after leaving Nicaragua and moving to Livingston Parish.

"The first time I moved to America, it felt weird, because I didn't know English," Medina said.

The 5th grader was taught English while going to school in Denham Springs.

"Prior to school starting, we'll be ready," Yvette Spears said.

Spears is the coordinator of the Livingston Parish School's new English Language Learning Center that's getting ready to open in Walker.

"Our non-English students, our population has doubled, maybe tippled in the last five years," Spears said.

Spears expects more than 1,000 non-English students to enroll in Livingston schools next month. At least five more teachers and assistants are being hired.

School officials also say the real challenge for students who can't speak English comes after they enroll and once they get into the classroom.

"We're getting a lot of children with interrupted education, so bringing them up to correct grade level is a challenge and teaching them English so they can function independently is also challenging," Spears said.

But the 5th grader has met those challenges, and now like kids in the area, he can't wait until school starts.

"Meet new friends and meet my new teachers," Medina said.


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