At the age of 15, Yazmin left her small town in Mexico and came to the United States where she eventually found her way to South Windsor, Connecticut. After her children were born, Yazmin realized she needed to learn English to ensure that her children had the resources they needed. With the support of local nonprofit organizations including the Hispanic Health Council, the Center for Latino Progress and Hartford’s Adult Education Center, Yazmin found programs for her children and began taking classes to improve her English and obtain her GED.
Yazmin is just one of thousands of English Language Learners in Connecticut where more than 100 different languages are spoken. These individuals bring diversity to our communities and make them more vibrant places to live. Unfortunately, when analyzing education and workforce data, English Language Learners are far behind their English speaking peers in terms of educational attainment and income.
A new report produced by The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving Latino Endowment Fund focuses on the issues faced by English Language Learners and highlights the opportunities and the challenges of increased cultural and linguistic diversity.
“The Latino Endowment Fund has offered this report as a means to expand the important discussion on efforts to support English Language Learners in our communities,” said Luis Cabán, chair emeritus of the Latino Endowment Fund Steering Committee. “This document provides us with an opportunity to reframe how we think about our increasingly global community and recognize the advantages of people speaking more than one language to enhance the richness of our community and create stronger links to the global marketplace.”
The report discusses how our increasingly globalized population represents the future of our workforce.
Other key findings of this report include:
Some of the potential solutions discussed at the Latino Endowment Fund events included in the report are:
“While we appreciate the recent actions by the legislature to support ELL students and their families, this report shows that much work needs to be done to assist the thousands of Connecticut children and adults who are not proficient in English,” said Nelly Rojas Schwan, chair of the Latino Endowment Fund and an assistant professor of social work and Latino community practice at the University of St. Joseph. “The future of our state’s economy will largely be determined by how well we educate and train our English Language Learners and we hope this report will serve as a tool to aid in this discussion.”
As for Yazmin, she now has a full-time job and is registered at Capital Community College towards earning an Associate Degree in Child Development. A regular volunteer at her children’s school, Yazmin hopes to eventually become a teacher.
Read the ELL Report