Sin Limites Summer Camp Helps Latino Students Improve Their Spanish Skills

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Sin Limites: Latino Youth Biliteracy Project is holding its third annual two-week summer camp, June 15-26, at J.O Kelly Middle School in Springdale. Thirty Springdale students, fifth through seventh grades are enrolled in the camp.

All of the students are Spanish heritage speakers — students who grew up in Spanish-speaking households and can speak and understand the language. The goal of the camp is to improve their Spanish literacy: students will work on reading and writing the language while also improving their speaking skills.

Sin Limites is a year-round after-school program for elementary and middle school Latino students in Rogers, Lowell and Springdale.

Foreign languages are generally not taught in Arkansas until junior high, but the Sin Limites program gives the students a chance to be “biliterate” – improving their Spanish skills while they learn English during the school day.

“Research has shown that being biliterate in English and Spanish helps students academically, because the analytical and reading skills that are developed transfer across languages,” said Luis Fernando Restrepo, professor of world languages at the University of Arkansas and director of La Oficina Latina at the U of A. “Although many of these students are labeled as ‘limited English speakers,’ the Sin Limites (no limits) program stresses the multiple opportunities these students have as bilingual speakers. Programs like this are critical to closing the academic achievement gap for Latino students.”

Sin Limites is an outreach program of the University of Arkansas La Oficina Latina: The Office of Latino Academic Advancement and Community Relations and the Department of World Languages, Literature and Cultures.

This is the third year for the program, which is free to the students and sponsored in part by a 21st Century Community Learning Centers federal grant awarded to J.O. Kelly Middle School, under the leadership of Principal Sara Ford. La Oficina Latina and Centennial Bank also provided funding for the program.

Restrepo is program coordinator along with Jeanette Arnhart, an instructor of world languages and a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Hispanic track of the Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies Program.

A team of bilingual instructors, volunteers and host speakers provide the students a living language learning community. The summer program leaders and presenters from the University of Arkansas and the local community are Cindy Miramontes, Christhian Saavedra, Isela Ulloa Mercado, Dilenia García, Ricardo García, Guadalupe Campos, Tom Arnhart, Cassandra Satterfield, Andra Arnhart-Smith, Denise Greathouse, Justin Smith, Kim Umber, and Restrepo.

U of A, Northwest Arkansas Community College and high school student volunteers include Raúl Flores, Oscar Torres, Mirella Violantes, Miguel López, Pedro Barroso, Mathew Morton, Vanesa Magaña, Maria Celia Barroso, Vilma Flores, Arely Torres, Yesenia Chavez, Jackie Araújo, Omar López.

Contacts

Luis Fernando Restrepo, director
La Oficina Latina
479 575 4073, lrestr@uark.edu

Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations
479-575-3583, voorhies@uark.edu

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