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Introducing "Many People, Many Voices"

"The students can write about what they know best-community and immigration."
Richard Diaz, Field Elementary School, Chicago

"These kids work so hard on their projects, we're really proud of what they've accomplished…The Bilingual History Fair exposes students to the academic skills required of them."
Soo Lon Moy, Healy Elementary School, Chicago

With the support of the Chicago Community Trust and in close collaboration with the Chicago Public Schools' Office of Language and Cultural Education, the Chicago Metro History Education Center offers The "Many People, Many Voices" Bilingual History Fair (BHF) for immigrant children in the metro Chicago area whose English language skills make it difficult for them to compete in the general junior or high schools History Fairs.

Bilingual History Fair students attempt to answer their most fundamental historical questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Where do I fit in?
  • How did my world get to be this way?
  • How have others built a new life and community here in Chicago?
  • What affect has my language/cultural community had on the city of Chicago?

By doing a History Fair project, newly arrived students are given the opportunity to do research, interview experts, develop ideas, make conclusions, and present their work-in both English and their first languages. Students are expected to write their projects' captions and bibliographies in English, but they may write their essay and be interviewed by judges in their first language. The exhibits students produce for the Bilingual History Fair support their use and learning of English and help them learn about community, immigration and history.

As of 2003, the Bilingual History Fair is composed of 35 schools in the Chicago area, covering 20 language groups including Spanish, Polish, Arabic, Gujurati, Urdu, and Chinese (Mandarin). Why do bilingual teachers offer this unique educational experience to their students? According to the teachers, they see their students gain: self-confidence, research and literacy skills, affirmation of their family and community, personal connection to history, team-building experience, and respect from other students in their schools.

If you have a bilingual program or an ESL program in your school, you might want to join the community of bilingual teachers now providing this is excellent educational opportunity for your newcomer students. Contact us at or call the CMHEC office, 312-255-3661.

Participation in the Bilingual History Fair incorporates critical thinking, problem solving and decision making which fits into the English as a Second Language Goals and Standards of the Chicago Public Schools (from TESOL. 1997)

I a, b, c
II a, b, c, d
III a, b