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The learning loss experience of newly arrived African immigrants

ALG recently interviewed Moussa Diallo, whose children immigrated to Colorado last year from Senegal, about his children’s experiences adjusting to the U.S. education system during a pandemic.

What are your thoughts about online school this year for your children?

As a parent who doesn’t speak English, this school year was not easy for me and my children. My children are ELL students and they immigrated here about a year ago. They only had couple of months of in-person learning before the pandemic hit.

Virtual school impacted them drastically, it’s hard learning a new language in general but doing it online added an extra layer to it. My kids never had the opportunity to attend school back home in Fouta, Senegal. The only education they ever had was Quranic schooling.

As someone who has no knowledge of the education system, one thing I can assure you of is that it’s hard for kids to improve their language skills without the face-to-face interactions they usually have at school. I know when I’m not home they are usually watching TV or playing games and not focusing on their school, which was difficult for me to manage.

In addition to that, sending them to the African Leadership Group (ALG) learning pod helped focus on their schoolwork. I know that there they were more focused, with someone watching over them.

However, we all had to adjust to the pandemic and my kids were able to adjust to online school. We ran into a lot of internet issues at the house. Thanks to the school for the hotspot, which alleviated some of the connections issue.

How do you feel about learning loss?

Learning loss was already there. I know my kids were behind since they arrived here because they never had any schooling prior. Also, I knew they were behind because they were not able to create basic conversation in English with the other kids in the neighborhood.

I sent one of my sons back home, because he was not focused and was having issues in our household.

The African Leadership Group tutoring helped my kids. I know on Saturday when I’m off I catch my son in tutoring pronouncing words with the tutor, which makes me happy.

Now, that they are back in the schoolhouse I hope their English will get better. I trust them more being at school than at home being distracted.

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