Introducing "Many People, Many Voices"
THE BILINGUAL HISTORY
"The students can write about what they know best-community and
Richard Diaz, Field Elementary School, Chicago
"These kids work so hard on their
projects, we're really proud of what they've accomplished
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
- What affect has my language/cultural community had on the city
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
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
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.
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