ALC show combines fashion, function into English lesson

What would you do if your child’s school called to alert you to his or her improper dress?

Many of the refugee families who arrive in Fargo don’t have survival English skills, which can be a barrier to many things, including knowledge of local customs and rules. Even the simplest situations, such as knowing what is considered appropriate clothing for a child to wear to school (both by style and function) can be lost with a lack of translation. The fact that New American students draw their fashion influences and perceptions from their American peers often exacerbates this issue.

This week, the staff at the Fargo Adult Learning Center and the English Language Learner programs at Agassiz came up with a novel, entertaining way to make New American parents better aware of the appropriate clothing recommendations and requirements for their children for school.

On Wednesday morning in the building’s gymnasium, around 80-100 ALC students (many of them parents of Fargo students) were treated to a “style show,” in which the participants – a group of 20 students in elementary, middle and high school – took part in a colorful runway-style display, featuring contemporary American fashion, traditional and ethnic dress from home countries, and appropriate North Dakota winter wear.

The event served to empower ALC students to have a stronger influence on this aspect of their child’s life at school.

Following the presentation, the ALC students gathered in groups, using the style show as a springboard for their conversational English lessons and activities.

The current ALC enrollment represents students and families from Bhutan, Somalia, Sudan, Spain, Italy, and other nations.

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