TELL-ing a Story: 4th Graders Perform Original play, Demonstrate English Language Learning through Theater

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Margaret Lutz | mlutz@csusm.edu

The United States is currently experiencing a rise in the number of English-language learners, expanding the need for many public schools in the San Diego region to provide special language instruction. From the 1997-98 school year to the 2008-09 school year, the number of English-language learners enrolled nationally in public schools increased from 3.5 million to 5.3 million, or by 51 percent (National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition, 2011). During the same period, the general population of students grew by 7.2 percent, to 49.5 million. These burgeoning numbers of English-language learners pose unique challenges for educators striving to ensure that such students get access to the core curriculum in schools and acquire academic knowledge, as well as English-language skills.

At Maryland Elementary School in Vista more than 70 percent of the students are English language learners.  A program, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, called TELL, Theater for English Language Learning, is helping Maryland’s 4th graders to not only learn English but gain self-confidence and have fun. TELL was launched in the fall of 2011 through Center Artes at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) 

The children and their teachers worked with teaching artists Eduardo Parra, CSUSM adjunct professor Radhika Rao and Visual and Performing Arts professor Marcos Martinez to create a theatrical performance adapted from Sara Pennypacker’s award-winning book series, Clementine, which chronicles the adventures of a precocious third grader.  The fourth grade classes wrote their own short play based on the books and will perform it this Friday, March 16 at 9 a.m. at Maryland Elementary School in the multi-purpose room.  Media are welcome to attend this entertaining and positive performance – please contact CSUSM Public Information Officer Margaret Lutz-Chantung at 760-750-4011 or mlutz@csusm.edu to RSVP.

The philosophy behind the programs offered by Center ARTES, which was founded in 2003, is to teach with and through the arts, rather than focusing exclusively on teaching about the arts.

“Art can be a powerful tool for teachers to utilize in the classroom to help students both further their subject-matter understanding and be introduced to the arts as well,” commented Merryl Goldberg, CSUSM professor of Visual and Performing Arts and Center Artes executive director.  “For example, music and rhythm can help teach difficult math concepts, dance can teach anatomy and physiology, drama can teach history or politics, or writing poetry can boost confidence and competence in self-expression.”

While Maryland Elementary is the first school to participate in TELL, Center ARTES hopes to expand its efforts and offer the service to other campuses in the future.

Who: 4th grade students at Maryland Elementary School
What: A student performance of a play based on  Sara Pennypacker’s award-winning book series, Clementine. The students wrote their own script as part of CSUSM’s TELL, Theater for English Language Learning, program.
When: Friday, Mar. 16  at 9 a.m.
Where: Maryland Elementary School, multi-purpose room, 700 North Avenue, Vista
Why: At Maryland Elementary School in Vista more than 70 percent of the students are English language learners.  A program launched in the fall of 2011 through Center Artes at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM)  called TELL, Theater for English Language Learning, is helping Maryland’s 4th graders to not only learn English but gain self-confidence and have fun.

About California State University San Marcos
California State University San Marcos combines the ambiance of a mid-sized, personal, modern campus with the unequaled value of the California State University. Since its founding in 1989, the campus has distinguished itself. Students benefit from the latest facilities and equipment, a superb faculty that enjoys teaching, and a rigorous academic program that prepares students for a successful life in and out of the workplace. A recent survey reported that our annual spending in the region was $161 million, generating a total impact of $307 million on the regional economy. 85 percent of CSUSM’s alumni stay in the region. CSU San Marcos is located on a 304-acre hillside overlooking the city of San Marcos. It is fifteen miles east of the ocean; just thirty miles north of downtown San Diego.