Seattle: Classes help break down language barriers for parents

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu May 18 20:26:25 UTC 2006

Thursday, May 18, 2006 - 12:00 AM

>>From The Seattle Times.

Classes help break down language barriers for parents

By Rachel Tuinstra
Seattle Times Eastside bureau

The math story problems that Maria Faurrieta's daughter often brings home
from her Bellevue middle school would be hard for Faurrieta to understand
even if they were in her native Spanish. But with the problems written in
English, it's especially hard for Faurrieta to help her daughter with her
homework. So last week, Faurrieta and dozens of other parents who
primarily speak Spanish attended a Bellevue School District workshop to
learn how to help their children who are learning in English. Many of the
parents went to school in other countries, so they don't know what
resources are available to them here.

The workshops show parents that even if they can't read English or solve
the math problems they can still help their children learn by using
different methods of questioning or trying different ways of thinking
about problems. "We want to get better at how to talk with our kids about
homework and get closer to them with what they are doing in school," said
Isabel Duran, who came with her daughter who attends Tyee Middle School
and her son who attends Newport High School. Homero Capetillo, a
fifth-grade teacher at Puesta del Sol Elementary School, a
Spanish-immersion school, hosted the event in Spanish and walked the
parents through different types of math questions their children may bring
home from school.

Capetillo suggested that parents ask their children questions: Que te est
pidiendo la maestra que hagas?  What is the teacher asking you to do? Or
Entiendes todas las palabras o los trminos que uso la maestra en este
ejercicio?  Do you understand all the words or terms that the teacher used
in this exercise? Duran has been to two previous workshops held by the
district. "My husband and I try to get the best we can for them; we want
them to go to university and be a doctor or engineer or whatever," she

"I'm trying to learn English and do my best. If they see us trying to
learn, then they will try at school, too." The workshops have drawn more
than 60 parents, said Ann Oxrieder, a district spokeswoman. "Everyone has
said they want more workshops on other topics," she said.  "Even one on
basic computer skills, like how to access their kids' grades online."
Victoria Buitrago's son attends Ardmore Elementary School in Bellevue. She
said she attended a previous workshop and found the information so useful
that she came back for last week's seminar on mathematics. She even
brought a friend from Mercer Island who also has a school-age son.

"This is valuable information for the family," Buitrago said. When she
filled out a survey about the workshop, she circled muy bueno very good.

Rachel Tuinstra: 206-515-5637 or rtuinstra at

Copyright  2006 The Seattle Times Company

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