MHS Club Advocates for Language Resources

MHS Club Advocates for Language Resources
Posted on 06/27/2022

The Immigrant Advocacy Club at Montclair High School, established in 2020 is led by Social Studies teacher Gabriela Guzman and comprised of students who work together to make Montclair a safer, more inclusive space for immigrants and ESL families and to provide all students with equal opportunities for success. Many club members are first-generation American.

This year, members of the IAC appealed to the district to come up with a solution for better translation services. While several translations are offered to students and guardians of various documents and materials, the club wanted the district to be able to provide more translations and make them accessible to all. Children of immigrants, especially at a young age, often have to translate forms, emails, and other documents for their guardians.

The Montclair Public Schools’ website can currently be translated into 10 languages which does not represent all of the native languages spoken in the district. Students in IAC discovered a subscription program called Helperbird that works through Google Chrome that can translate documents and more into 133 languages. It can also assist ESL students in completing their homework and classwork more easily. Helperbird is also a platform with resources to help students with dyslexia.

Interim Supervisor of ESL and World Languages Dr. Vicky Chang served as the liaison with Helperbird along with district Director of Technology Christopher Graber and Manager of Technical Support Nicholas Veni, who met with Helperbird CEO Robert Gabriel who was moved by the inquiry. “I can't stop thinking about the students trying to fundraise and contribute to the purchase of Helperbird,” he said. “It has really touched me but also the whole team here. We would love to gift Helperbird Pro to Montclair for free for the next two years.”

“Some immigrant students struggle with their academics because most of their work is in English, and little support is offered. Implementing this service will help alleviate this problem,” said a memo from IAC to the district. “In addition, the Immersive Reader extension will automatically translate documents for students, allowing them to focus on answering the assignment rather than decoding the English language. We understand the importance of immersion in English and how some may view Helperbird as a roadblock in fluency for ESL students, however, Helperbird does not stop fluency but rather prevents ESL students from being disadvantaged, giving them the resources to do their work and thoroughly learn the knowledge they’re being taught.”

The Helperbird extension can be found in the upper right hand toolbar at the top of a district Google account page. A pop up menu provides options for translating, reading and more. Online support is also available from Helperbird. 

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