Bi-Lingual Teacher Helping Giving Pre-K Kids A Jump Start - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/10/04-Tyler

Bi-Lingual Teacher Helping Giving Pre-K Kids A Jump Start

Everyday for the last ten years, Billy Smoot has been teaching at Bonner Elementary. But his kids aren't your typical students, and they are not just learning colors and shapes. They're in pre-kindergarten, and learning a foreign language .

"These are children that come from Spanish speaking homes, with Spanish speaking families," says teacher of 16 years, Billy Smoot.

So before they're thrown into school without a way to communicate, Mr. Smoot is trying to teach them the basics of the English language and working on their Spanish at the same time.

"We're wanting to develop their Spanish fully and we want to start them on the road to becoming fluent English speakers also," says Smoot.

Mr. Smoot says as the Hispanic community grows each year, so does the number of kids needing help with English.

"One sad part about this is we have a waiting list of about twenty children in the office that are at home right now without a class to go to because there's no room," Smoot.

Even though the students are barely 4 and 5 years old, Mr. Smoot says they're more than ready to learn.

"Children are like sponges when it comes to learning a new language. We make a game of it and we have fun. It's sort of stealth teaching, while the children are having fun they're learning. I love my job. Many people can't say they enjoy going to work everyday, but I do," Smoot.

But more than fun, Smoot is giving these kids a better future.

"Look at the job ads in the employment section in the paper and see how many of them are looking for bilingual candidates. That shows you how important it is," Smoot.

Reporting: Braid Sharp bsharp@kltv.com

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