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Using Technology to Address Language Barriers

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December 4, 2017

As our schools continue to grow their English language learner populations, it becomes increasingly important for schools to find tools and resources that can assist students in language acquisition and help them better interact with their teachers throughout the process. Once again, we can thank technology for coming to the rescue and designing brilliant tools to help.

Presenting Google’s Pixel Buds 

Of course you can use these as you would any other earbuds or headphones. But what makes these earbuds so powerful for educational applications is that when paired with a Pixel phone, these wireless earbuds will automatically translate the language being spoken into the listener’s native language. To respond, the student simply speaks his or her reply, and the devices translate their words into English. Incredible! 

Benefits beyond the student

Let’s think about additional benefits these devices can bring. We have school districts in Oklahoma with upwards of 30 different languages identified as their students’ native tongue. No doubt, communication can become an immense challenge not only when trying to teach but also when trying to engage with the families. These devices could significantly improve the ability to communicate with parents/guardians and to help them feel more comfortable asking questions and being more involved in their students’ learning.

Currently, Pixel Buds can translate 40 different languages, and from the reviews we’ve read, they do so pretty well. While they certainly aren’t cheap ($159 per set), having the ability to improve communication might just be worth the cost. And because we educators use our ingenuity to the max in finding ways to raise funds (GoFundMe, various grants, Donors Choose, etc.), these may be the perfect project to promote.


About the Author

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Ben Parker

Director, Technology

Ben serves as Director of Technology for the OPSRC. In this role, he will provide support to schools on technical issues and training on pressing technology topics. Ben will assist partner schools with trainings, comprehensive technology plans, e-Rate applications, technology purchasing consultation, and other school and district technology decisions.

Prior to working with OPSRC, Ben was the Director of Technology for the Locust Grove Public School District. Ben implemented a 1:1 tablet program in Locust Grove that saw 6th-12th graders go paperless in the classroom.

In his free time, Ben likes to read and play the drums.

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