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Wednesday, May 8, 2013 | Latest audio lessons → VOA Learning English

How Immigration Reform Could Affect English Learners

From VOA Learning English, this is Education. Immigration reform is a top policy goal this year in Washington. President Obama and a group of Democratic and Republican senators who have been preparing legislation agree on one thing.

Millions of immigrants who are in the United States illegally will have to start learning English before they can begin the process of becoming legal residents. But school systems that face shrinking budgets are still cutting or eliminating English classes. Overcrowding is especially bad in California. That state is home to one of every four non-English-speaking immigrants in the United States. But Margie McHugh of the Migration Policy Institute predicts a huge amount of unmet demand for English training all across the country. She says the current system is too limited.

Until recently, California law provided money to be used just for adult education. But, to help schools meet funding shortages, state legislators let them use that money for other programs. In Los Angeles, the adult education program has been cut by 75 percent. Once, the school district offered English at hundreds of neighborhood sites, with day and evening classes. This year, the teaching hours will be reduced.

California Governor Jerry Brown wants to take responsibility for adult education away from school districts. Their main focus is on children. He wants to give the responsibility to community colleges. Adult schools across the country are experimenting with computerized English instruction. They hope software will help substitute for the individual attention that beginning students need.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 18Apr2013)

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