The School District of Palm Beach County approved a new program that will provide its dual language departments with pre-translated instructional materials.
Up until now, educators have had to translate the coursework and materials themselves.
“I was having a lot of conversations with our Hispanic educators about their experiences, and this was one of the most frequent topics that would come up. [The conversations] would be, ‘I love what I do. I’m really committed to these programs, but the workload of having to translate all of these materials myself is just immense.’ There was no support,” Palm Beach County School Board member Alexandria Ayala said. “It would take them through the night into the weekends, and it was something I prioritized right out of the gate.”
Ayala said Hispanics make up nearly 40% of the students in Palm Beach County, including families like Raul Farfan and his 7-year-old daughter.
“In life, you need to speak at least two or more languages, of course, and I think Spanish is one of the most important languages to have,” Farfan said.
He said his family is from Colombia and his daughter has been in Palm Beach County schools for nearly three years.
His biggest concern is the coursework translated by teachers.
“When we translate from English to Spanish or Spanish to English, the complete sentence could mean another different thing than the real thing, so it’s not the exact translation for that,” Farfan said.
Ayala said the new program will minimize errors in translation since it’ll be done by education professionals who meet county and state standards and curriculum.
She said that the school district has 33 Spanish dual language programs and two Haitian-Creole dual language programs and growing.
“It was just, ‘Hey, let’s get really high-quality materials in the hands of these teachers so they can do their part to help the students succeed in these dual language programs, which will help them succeed for the rest of their lives,'” Ayala said.
According to Ayala, there has been a large influx of families from other countries.
“In Palm Beach County Schools, we have over 200 languages spoken by the families that we serve,” Ayala said. “That just goes to show the immense diversity that we have here.”
Ayala said teachers can expect things to kick off as early as next week.
“We are here to serve you. We want your child to have the best possible educational experience, and we believe that being bilingual even trilingual like some of our students is a huge asset,” Ayala said.