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Schools & Camps for Kids Whose First Language is not English

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > K-12 Schools > Schools & Camps for Kids Whose First Language is not English


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Questions about Schools


School for 11-year-old Spanish speaking boy

May 2011

I have an 11 year old Spanish speaking boy who has a basic level in English and would like to enroll him in a School in the Berkeley area during his summer vacations for him to learn and practice English. In Peru his summer vacations are in January - February 2012. I would appreciate any information about procedures, schools or programs that my son could apply to. Veronica


You might look at Walden Center & School, a private K-6 school in central Berkeley. During the time my child has attended, several foreign students have joined the school for varying periods of time and have done well. At least two of the teachers speak fluent Spanish, and many of the students also speak at varying levels. Mary

School for visiting German teenager

April 2010

My stepson, who lives in Germany, wants to spend a year living with us in the US.

Here's the thing, my husband and I have never dealt with the school system here and don't even know where to begin. We don't have other children and are not familiar with how to enroll.

He'll be 14 in September, and has relatively good English skills, but not quite fluent. We're not sure what grade he should start in. He's small and still quite young for his age. We can't afford private schools and live in Oakland. Do we have to apply for magnets? Do testing, etc? When do schools even start? We're clueless!

Does anyone know of a resource to help guide us through this very overwhelming process? sr


My wife is very familiar with the German school system and we have been a host family for several European students. You first need to find out if you out if he is eligible to attend school and then if they will allow him to attend. This is something you should start doing now. One of our exchange students wasn't allowed to attend school in Oakland even though we lived in Oakland. (Has to do with funding.)

She wound up going to school in Berkeley. Piedmont and Acalanes school districts are friendly to foreign students. You might also inquire at Private schools as many times they offer scholarships for foreign students.

You need to find out what classes he is taking and how he is doing/grades. The school districts have information on class equivalence. You should contact The German School of the East Bay. (This might be your best resource.) They meet in Oakland on Saturdays. If you need assistance my wife and I would be hppay to assist, just post.


Oakland has the Oakland International School, a public school located in the old Carter Middle School on 45th Street near Telegraph. It is specifically for students who have recently arrived in the U.S., so if he needs English language support, this would be a good place to be. Anon

School for 11 year old who speaks Mayan & Spanish & no English

April 2007

Hi BPN, We know a family that received political asylum in the US after several family members were murdered for political reasons in their home country. Their 11 year old daughter is about to arrive in the US on her new visa in two weeks. Her family wants to know how and where to get her into school and is very worried about this transition. On the one hand, they are thinking it might be better to wait and not enroll her right now. This girl has been attending school in her home country, but she comes from a very small Mayan village. Her first language is a Mayan dialect. She learned Spanish in school but speaks no English. They think that the culture shock might be too much trying to put her in middle school as soon as she arrives.

At the same time, they want her to meet people and to start learning English as soon as possible. She is a very smart girl, good at basketball but rather shy. The family lives in the Fruitvale District and so would be in Oakland Unified.

I am wondering if any BPNers have any advice. Should she try to enroll now? Are there any special programs she should try to get into? Is there a summer school program, even a basketball camp that she should try to get into? Is there an Oakland school that she should TRY to get into?

Thank you for ANY advice on this. Eleven is such a tough age. I want her transition to the US to be as easy as possible! Rebecca


I know that there is a basketball camp for girls at Holy Names University, not far from the Fruitvale district. Not sure who runs it, but it's worth looking into - it seems like a small group, which wouldn't be too overwhelming. anon
Please let your friends know about Lighthouse Community Charter School in downtown Oakland as a possibility for their 11 year old, whether for now or next year. There may not be anyone there who speaks her home language (tho it's possible that there is, I just don't know), but many of the young people and/or their families have experienced coming to the US and learning english as a second or third language. Our 13 year old started there midyear (february) in 6th grade a year and a half ago and the school culture (compassion, respect, responsibility) made the transition much better than I'd thought it might go. An LCCS parent
Hi- You might check with Oakland Unified School District regarding middle schools where there is primarily instruction in Spanish with English Language Development as a large part of the program. I'm almost positive they should have something like this for situations just like this one. Best of luck to her in finding the right school! Laura
Rebecca, I would recommend Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland - K-12 for the family coming from the Mayan villate. Their purpose is to focus on the underserved in the Fruitvale district. The majority are Spanish speaking students and families. Most teachers are bilingual. (I'm not sure how to address the need to learn English though. I'm trying to find such a program for my 15 year old nephew. It seems like a lot of the programs are for adults.) Anyway, Lighthouse might be the place for this family and they may still have room in her grade. Celia

Questions about Summer Camps


Camp for visiting 10 year old boys from Shanghai?

March 2013

My friend is bringing her son and his friend for a visit in July. The boys are 10 years old and speak some English, having studied it since kindergarten. They are wonderful kids...artistic, friendly, and love animals. I live in Montclair but work in SF during the summer. Any recommendations? janis


How long will the boys be here? If long enough, I'd highly recommend Adventure Day Camp in Walnut Creek. They have a bus service and will pick up from and return the kids to your house each day. They are a quintessential ''summer camp'' with all the things offered that one thinks of when thinking of camp...sports, skits, horses, sailing, crafts, swimming, performances, silly dress up days, tie dye, an overnight camp out, etc. The sessions are 3 weeks long and the kids get really close to the other kids in their group as well as their counselor and bus drivers. My kids LOVE it and will be there for two full sessions each. Happy ACD parent

Summer camp for two German 10-year-old friends

May 2010

Hi: this summer a friend of mine is coming to visit from Germany with her two children (10 years old). She would like to enroll them in a summer camp in Berkeley or Oakland so that they can have fun, meet new friends and improve their English language. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks! Isabella


You might try the summer camp at Walden Center & School in central Berkeley. Their phone number is 510-841-7248. My 10-year-old will spend a couple of weeks there this summer. It's a fun, low-key camp with a few field trips to places like swimming pools. Last summer a camper from France had a good time at the Walden camp. Mary N.

Summer camp for visiting Italian kids

June 2007

Italian family, coming in Berkeley from 7/21 to 8/10, is looking for day camps for the boys (16, 13 and 5 yo). They really like team sports or playground sports. Any tips? Thanks.


I think you and the kids would be very happy with Cal's summer camp Check it out on line-look for Blue Cubs, Blue Bears. There are a few foreign kids that have fun and make friends at the camp. Best of luck! anon
The 5 yr old and 13 year old might like the Strawberry Canyon/ Clark Kerr sports camps run by UC Berkley Recreation Department. They run for 2 week sessions. The kids do a variety of sports each day. The 5 yr old would likely be at the camp at the Strawberry Canyon pool. The older child would be at the Clark Kerr campus. But they really are't very far apart, and doing both drop offs or pick ups is not so difficult. I'm not sure how many 13 yr olds go to the camp. You could tryp to get a feel for it from the camp director. You can look on line at the site for uc berkleey rec. department for the camps. The exact name is not so clear - Perhaps ''strawberry canyoun'' or ''golden bear''. Just check out the site. Another programrun by Cal Rec department is Cal Adventures. Those kids do kayaking, rock climbing, sailing and other stuff. More specific (and pricy and shorter) sport-specific camps are run by the Cal athletic department. You can find those on line too. Most of them do not run on Fridays. The older kid, if he has good english skills, cold be a CIT. Mom

Summer/language camp for 12-year-old from Turkey

April 2007

I am a faculty member at a university in Turkey and my wife and I will be visiting UCB for 9 months starting from July 1st, 2007. Our son (nearly intermediate-level speaker) of 12 will stay with us in Berkeley till the end of Sept, then return to Turkey for his school. We therefore search a summer/language/activity school for him between the dates of around first weeek of July and mid September. Our aim is to have our son improve his English as well as making him busy during the day time since we both will be working at the lab on a full time basis. Any help/recommendation/directive info would be much appreciated. Best wishes for all from Turkey !


Hello, I recommend the programs offered by UCB, Cal Youth Programs. They offer mainly sports summer camps: For 12 year olds, there is a huge variety of fun stuff like rock climbing, sailing, sea kayaking, etc. They also do mixed science in the morning and sports in the afternoon. My son (albeit 5 years old) went last year all summer and loved it, and will go again this year. The cost is reasonable (in comparison with other camps in this area) and it would be very convenient for you since it is located on the UCB campus. Check out the web site: http://calbears.berkeley.edu/insidepage.aspx?uid=0f65eaf9-fb1c-4327-b6a6-3a44ada5e072 This does not help you with the English, but perhaps just spending all day speaking English with kids and teachers would be enough? Otherwise, maybe you could hire an English tutor once or twice a week. I bet you could find a UCB student willing to do it for reasonable rates. It may be difficult to find exactly what you are looking for, as clearly, most camps are set up for kids living here who (mostly) already speak English. Good luck and I hope you have a great summer here in the beautiful Bay Area. Love CAL Camps
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