By Jessica Sanders
Did you know that at least 350 different languages are spoken in U.S. homes? In metro areas like New York City and Chicago alone, there are 200+ languages spoken—check out the graph below from the U.S. Census Bureau.
With stats like that, there’s a significant chance that your ESL students go home speaking another language and that their parents don’t speak English fluently. This barrier can keep parents from engaging with their children about school and makes it even harder to communicate with teachers and admin.
If you think language barriers are affecting your students’ learning or your ability to communicate with them or their parents, check out these apps. Each one helps ESL students and families in a different and invaluable way.
Alternate language: 70+
Remind is a perfect tool for teachers to keep open lines of communication with students and parents. It also makes it easier to talk with those who don’t speak English thanks to Remind Translate. Simply tap the “translate” icon after writing your message and it will send in the language of your choice.
Alternate language: Spanish
This tool not only motivates students to read more and makes improving and tracking reading comprehension easier for teachers, but it also makes it easier for Spanish-speaking parents to stay up to date with their children’s reading as well.
Parents can opt to have weekly updates emailed to them in Spanish so they can see what their kids are reading, sparking conversations about school at home and allowing ESL parents to feel more included.
Alternate language: 40+
This is a great tool for providing feedback to ESL students or talking with parents during conferences. You can use it to translate your spoken words whenever necessary, and allow students and parents to do the same.
Alternative language: Unknown; many
This awesome app, exclusively for use with Apple products, is like Wikipedia, but “prettier” and more fun. For example, students can put in the school’s location to find interesting Wikipedia articles about the area it’s in—they’ll love digging up random articles about historical people, interesting places and forgotten events. Being multilingual, it’s a perfect tool to allow the whole class to read an article in the language they understand best.
Alternative language: Spanish, Portuguese and French*
This popular edtech tool allows teachers to translate the platform into one of the three languages for easier understanding and comfort with the material.
*The platform is available in those three languages, but the videos and other content can be further translated into one of 20+ other languages as well. You also have access to 20,000 subtitle translations.
Alternative language: 40+
Students use Readlang to translate web pages and turn the words they don’t know into flashcards for studying later. The idea is simple: students click any word they don’t recognize and it’s translated for them, right there. All these words are saved, and can be practiced until they’re learned.
Alternative language: 80+
This amazing app acts as a social feed for your classroom—the best part is that parents and students can set their app up to be in whatever language they prefer. You can add events, updates, reminders and use in-app messaging and behavior tracking, all of which help parents of all languages stay in the loop about their child’s progress at school.
Alternative Language: 35+
Foreign-speaking parents can stay in the loop with their child’s behavior and activities at school by translating all class announcements into the language of their choice. At the time of release this was only available on their web app, but may now be available on Android and iOS apps as well.