Education Matters: A story, now book, shared in the classroom

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – A retired teacher has written a book to help English learners meet the challenge of learning a new language.

Valerie Barrios is a first-grade teacher at Burroughs Elementary School, for a dual immersion class, as students are learning Spanish. She states, “Some of these students are English speakers, native English Speakers, and some of them are Spanish speakers.”

Mrs. Barrios says she often gets students from another country, struggling to learn the language.

She invited the author, Armida Espinoza to read to her class, Espinoza’s book, “Brave Lolis Learns English” as she says is a story many can relate to.

Espinoza states, “I had been sharing the story because it’s my personal story, a lifetime with friends and family that the struggles that I have as an English Learner in the first grade,”

Her story became her first book, as she shared it with school children.

Espinoza says, “I can’t read and I can’t write in English, I can’t read in front of everybody what I’m a going to do.” She adds, “It’s a new classroom, it’s a new teacher and they call to the back room and then you’re asked to, I was asked to recite my ABC’s and I got stuck at G.”

The experience left Espinoza embarrassed and ashamed. She says she struggled with feelings of inadequacy throughout her school years.

Barrios uses Espinosa’s book to help young students get past negative thoughts and face their challenges head-on.

Armida Espinoza conquered her fears and eventually became a bilingual elementary school teacher.

Her book has been honored with an International Latino Book Award and says she is now working on her next book.

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