A writing and art contest for multilingual learners in grades K-12 is now accepting entries.
The Wisconsin Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (WITESOL), an organization that provides professional development and networking opportunities to educators of multilingual learners of all levels and ages, is holding its annual Writing and Art Contest. Entries are being accepted from now through Feb. 14, 2022.
Any multilingual learner in grades K-12, who is also a student of a WITESOL member, is eligible to enter the contest for their chance to win cash prizes. The contest is separated into different grade level divisions, including K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12. There is also an adult level category for adult multilingual learners participating in courses at Wisconsin universities or technical colleges.
The theme of this year’s contest is “What it Means to be a Neighbor”. Writing entries can be essays or poetry. For the art category, any form is acceptable for an art project, such as crayons, pencils, painting, photography, multimedia, 3D, etc.
Each year, WITESOL highlights multilingual learners across the state by sharing the winning writing entries and artwork on social media, their website, and in a special booklet.
WITESOL President Kari Johnson is an EL teacher in Fort Atkinson and had a fourth grade student win 1st place in the writing category.
“The contest is a wonderful way to empower the voices and celebrate the talents of Wisconsin's multilingual learners,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s student, who had moved to the United States from Honduras two years prior, shared that she never felt she was a good writer since she was learning English.
“After winning the contest, the student told Johnson that she realized she IS a writer and that people wanted to hear what she had to say,” Johnson said, adding that it was a real turning point in this student’s life as the student finally saw herself as someone who could be successful in school. This particular student was so proud of winning a prize in the contest that she wanted to frame the prize money check instead of cashing it. The next year, Johnson's student went on to receive academic honors and exited the EL program.
“My student is very shy, and I think this will encourage her to be more confident in her communication,” Ami Christensen, an educator who works with multilingual learners in Eau Claire, said regarding a student winner in her English program. “Recognizing, acknowledging, and celebrating the diverse voices of our students is important.”
Besides educators being proud of student winners, the students were proud of themselves. After winning a contest, Kangping Gu, a student attending school in Whitewater shared, “It really surprised me. I never thought I can do it. I didn't have much confidence in my writing ability before. Now I feel much better.”
WITESOL looks forward to receiving a variety of entries from multilingual students all over Wisconsin. To learn more about WITESOL or their annual contest, visit https://www.witesol.com/.
Subscriber submission: The Wisconsin Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages