Wilson County Schools students speak more than 65 languages (not including English). Although the classes are taught in English, as a second language, that sometimes doesn’t extend to the home.
That’s why WCS has hired translators to assist parents during meetings with teachers and staff, filling out forms and helping with circumvent the English language on paperwork.
WCS ESL, Immigrant, and Migrant Coordinator Julie Harrison said that Spanish and Arabic are the two most foreign languages spoken by the students. There are 875 students who are English language learners and 26 ESL teachers in WCS.
“Wilson County Schools has seen and continues to see substantial growth in all areas, including children who are not fluent in English, over the past five to six years,” Harrison said. “We have approximately 875 students who are English Language Learners in our schools. In addition, many students whose families speak other languages come to school already fluent in English.”
The translators can be the children of a family, but in some circumstances, the translators are hired and paid by WCS to help the family assimilate into WCS, Harrison said. The goal is for the students to become proficient in English.
“(The) ESL teachers who work with these students across the district daily to help them become fluent in English, help them to understand the academic vocabulary, (and more),” she said. “We do not translate content or coursework for students. It is our goal that they learn English in addition to their native language. It is a wonderful asset to be bilingual, especially in today’s world and workforce.”
The district is seeking a part-time translator who can speak Spanish and one who can speak Arabic. They must be proficient in both speaking and writing the language. The translator must also understand confidentiality, Harrison said.
There are different sources for translation WCS uses for families. The first is TransAct, an online library of legal documents that translates many languages. Also, Language Line is a phone service with many options for languages included.
WCS also has a listed of approved translators who are paid hourly. Several of the district’s ESL teachers are also fluent in Spanish.
The translators don’t help the students finish their assignments; however, because the lessons are conducted in English, other students will often help struggling students, Harrison said.
“Everything is in English,” she said. “We want them to learn English, so that’s the goal. We want them to keep their home language too. That’s definitely important to be bilingual.”
For more information about adult English classes, contact Sandy Anderson at (615) 443-8731.
“Wilson County Schools is excited and proud of the diversity our families of other cultures bring to our schools,” Harrison said. “This diversity enriches the experiences of everyone in the classroom. Our students know that even though we are all different we have common goals to live, work, and learn in a community together.”