Welcome to 2015! ACE Learning Centers Provide an Edge For Learning Technology Due to Second Language Skills
By Martha Sessums
Conjugating the French language’s imparfait tense took on a new meaning – it means I could be a programmer.
Okay, let me back up. First, welcome to 2015. Here are some updates on the ACE Learning Centers for the first part of the school year.
At Oakland International High School, four students graduated from the 5th Year program, successfully learning English language skills. Of the additional enrolled 13 students, five are also concurrently enrolled in community college and the rest are working to support themselves and their families while coming to school to earn their high school diplomas.
At San Francisco International High School, the first year SPARK students who are taking classes at City College of San Francisco have received great feedback from their teachers on their work ethic and progress. Three of the students have passed the CAHSEE exam. The first year Span program is also off to a strong start, supporting 34 students at 10 different colleges and universities
The new ACE/Alpha Parent Learning Center will officially open in February, offering ESL and community support classes. The first community event will involve vegetables. Parents and a local non-profit plan to give away free produce to the local neighborhood.
Much of the focus at the ACE Learning Centers is on English as a Second Language (ESL), for both students and their parents. And that’s where the skill to become a programmer comes in. According to an article in EdTech, there’s a relationship between the two.
Apparently, some companies hiring programmers think that the skills to learn a new language apply to learning software programs. The process skills of translating between languages and conversation proficiency are similar to the process skills needed to program, or at least understand the logic of programming.
According to the article, the relationship between software and foreign languages goes deep and could be key to training the over 1.7 million software developers needed by 2022. “We now know that learning languages gets easier after the second,” said Lida Zlatic, co-founder of ClassTracks, a blended learning platform for language classrooms. “So why not teach kids a second human language first, and make their third language one that speaks with computers?”
The ACE Learning Centers teach a second language to kids who then may have an advantage to excel in an important career option. The skill set of learning a new logic and style to communicate can be used to learn C++ programming. It is, after all, just another language.
That means that ACE students could have an advantage in meeting the growing demand for careers in technology – the T in STEM. And wouldn’t that be a great story. Arrive as an immigrant in the US, learn English at an ACE Learning Center, go on to college supported by the ACE Learning Center programs and learn software development. Graduate and be hired for a company to create the next big thing. And programmers are paid well too.
So, ESL is a hidden gem of knowledge that opens up new opportunity. It’s not just about conjugating verbs or learning new phrases, it’s understanding the logic behind why a verb is conjugated in a tense based on meaning, mood, voice, number or person. Or why one response to a question is appropriate and another isn’t, based on formality or the expectation of a negative answer.
I was inspired by this connection. We know that communicating in the language of the country we live in is imperative. I just didn’t realize that understanding the logic of language provides an advantage to other skills. As the article concludes: “Perhaps investing in the relationship between human and programming language training could be the key to unlock the wealth of talent in minority communities around the country, presenting a refreshing economic lens into America’s immigration debate.”
On that note, I’ll go conjugate some French verbs in imparfait: Je programmais, tu programmais, elle programmait. . .