TULSA, Okla. — If you walk the hallways at Tulsa Public Schools, chances are you'll see a diverse population of students.
In fact, district officials said students represent about 60 different countries and more than 79 different languages are spoken. Aside from English, the majority of students speak Spanish, followed by Hmong, Chuukese and American Sign Language.
"Our population of English learners in Tulsa Public Schools has grown greatly over the last few years," said Laura Grisso, executive director of language and cultural services.
According to the district's latest data, it gained 2,870 English learners from 2008 to 2018. The number went up from 5,317 to 8,187.
In state public schools, there were 57,134 English learners in the 2018-2019 school year up from 46,864 in 2012-2013.
To keep up with the growth of English learners and provide the best ways to serve the students' needs, TPS has expanded its dual-language programs in elementary schools.
This school year a dual-language program will be offered to pre-K students at Celia Clinton Elementary School.
In total, there are eight elementary schools that offer dual-language and immersion programs.
"We know that the most effective way for English learners to learn is through dual-language program," said added Grisso.
This program expansion also causes the need for more qualified teachers in the area.
"We do our best to recruit both locally as well as internationally to make sure we have high quality, effective teachers for our students," said Grisso.
There are currently 164 teachers in multilingual programs pre-K through 12th grades. Fifty teachers in the district are international.
"We would like to have as many as teachers as we can who speak multiple languages. There is a direct correlation with students who have bilingual teachers or teachers of diverse backgrounds in improving their educational outcomes," shared Quentin Liggins, director of talent acquisition, retention and development.
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