inWhatLanguage recently completed translations for the Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Language and Cultural Education as part of a grant program aimed at assisting English Language Learners. inWhatLanguage’s mission is to unify people and communities through innovative translation solutions. With that in mind, we carry out a number of different social impact initiatives. One of our main social impact initiatives is assisting English Language Learners (ELLs).
Check out this infographic to see what we did for the Chicago School District.
According to an nprED report 5 million, or 1 in 10, students in the United States are ELLs. We recognized this as an opportunity to step in and provide translations for critical documents and parent-teacher communications, to empower diverse, non-English speaking students and their families with the information and resources needed to build successful lives.
In March we offered 13 grants (in the form of translation value) varying in value from $1,000 to $5,000 to organizations and schools around the United States that are assisting ELLs. The grants will allow schools to address significant needs for ELLs. Specifically, they will be able to get parent-teacher communications, external documents, learning materials, and multimedia learning content translated. In addition, the grants will cover the costs of translation, which is often critical to allow teachers to communicate with parents. For example, it allows teachers to communicate with parents to discuss students’ academic progress and it enables parent-teacher conferences to take place in both the parent’s and the teacher’s native languages.  
One of the first awardees to request and have their translation project completed was the Chicago Public Schools Office of Language and Cultural Education. The Office of Language and Cultural Education works with resettlement agencies to better integrate newcomers into the school district along with helping the school district provide language and cultural services for all of its students and parents. The Office of Language and Cultural Education was awarded $1,000 worth of translation value from inWhatLanguage. They were able to use the translation value to address what they determined to be their most pressing translation needs.
The Office of Language and Cultural Education chose to use their $1,000 award to have reason for absence notes translated into a number of different languages. Kongit Girma the Office of Language and Cultural Education’s Community Relations Representative stated that,
“We had the absence notes in English and Spanish but it was very difficult for other languages, we had to hand write out the absence request notes, but with the very generous award we were able to translate not just two or three, but eleven new languages that are predominantly spoken in our school district.”
See what Kongit Girma had to say about the grants she received for Chicago schools.
With the inWhatLanguage English Language Learner Grant, the Office of Language and Cultural Education was able to translate the reason for absence form into eleven additional languages (Arabic, Amharic, Burmese, Dari, French, Nepali, Somali, Swahili, Urdu, Vietnamese, and Yoruba).
The impact of these translations will be significant for English Language Learners in the Chicago Public School District. There are around 2,000 refugees in the district. Both the students and their parents will benefit from having the absence form in their native languages. In addition to refugees, the form will benefit a total of around 5,000 students (including immigrants and other English Language Learners). Kongit Girma mentioned that “in the past, the parents didn’t turn in the form because they didn’t understand it, so this will facilitate for them to fill it out in their language and turn in the form.” Previously they had no way to know the reason for their absence, be it if they were sick, or were unable to get to school.
To learn more about how inWhatLanguage uses translation services to help English Language Learners visit,