Ottumwa School District uses translation earbuds to help students learning English

Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 8:51 PM CDT
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KCRG) - New technology the Ottumwa School District is using is helping students who don’t speak English as their first language. Tiny headphones that can translate up to 40 languages in real-time. The headphones are really earbuds. Small devices that fit inside a child’s ear and ensures that student can comprehend what a teacher is saying, even in another language.

The company providing the technology is ‘Timekettle.’ The district first bought the devices in September of last year.

A way to communicate with English Language Learners is crucial for that district, which has more than 1,000 such students.

A teacher and student demonstrated how the earbuds work at Monday night’s school board meeting. Leah Hallgren, one of the teachers who works firsthand with the technology said while it’s not solely for language teaching, it’s a great tool to have in the classroom.

”We have our curriculum and our academic instruction and all that. But this is specifically to help with the content. And when I say content, I mean, your math, your history. These kids can go into upper-level science classes now. Because it’s not necessarily that they can’t do the skill, they just may not have the word,” said Hallgren.

The goal is to have this be a temporary bridge from when a student is learning English to when the student is proficient in English.

The district has around 70 devices throughout its schools and plans to be getting more.