Someone typing on a keyboard

Interpretation Services for School Districts

Interpreters help bridge communication gaps during remote and in-person meetings

This past school year required new approaches to K-12 learning, as many schools either mandated remote learning or embraced a hybrid model. According to Statista, only 38.8% of K-12 schools in the United States were teaching in-person in February 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following an unprecedented shift to online learning, many teachers struggled to connect with students who weren’t logging on every day, particularly in non-English speaking households. Learn how Lionbridge phone interpretation services enabled teachers and schools to stay connected to their students.

Phone Interpretation in Schools During COVID-19

Limited English Proficient (LEP) students and families have been uniquely impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a Connecticut State Department of Education report, English-learning students in the state had the second lowest attendance rate in 2020.

To ensure that LEP students stay engaged, many teachers need to call home and speak to the students’ families. Lionbridge’s Phone Interpretation Services assist teachers in connecting with non-English-speaking families, and have been more crucial than ever during the pandemic.

“We’ve seen schools that have used interpretation services two or three times more frequently than in the past,” said John Drugan, Director of Government Sales for Lionbridge.

Although most schools are planning to resume in-person instruction in the fall, many school districts are planning to offer remote learning for students who would benefit from such an environment. Interpretation services could continue to play a key role in Limited English Proficient remote learners. Even for in-person interactions, remote phone interpretation allows teachers to communicate in less common languages, where it may be difficult to secure an in-person interpreter on short notice.

See it in action:

In 2020, one state’s Department of Education rolled out a grant program for the state’s 16 largest school districts to use Lionbridge Phone Interpretation Services. The majority of those school districts used phone interpretation services for the first time, and found the service crucial in staying connected with non-English-speaking families during a turbulent time.

A girl doing schoolwork in front of a laptop

The Importance of Interpreters in U.S. Schools

Disparities between English-learning students and other students already existed prior to the pandemic, but the switch to remote learning brought these concerns to the forefront.

“Its been a moment of clarity and focus for school districts who have LEP students,” said Susan Gryder, Director of Sales for Over-the-Phone Interpretation. 

Before the pandemic, school districts tended to rely on volunteers or in-person interpreters for common languages. However, they often lacked the ability to communicate in less common languages, or manage a high volume of communication with non-English-speaking families. By utilizing phone interpretation services even after most schools return to in-person learning, school districts can ensure that all students and their families are receiving equal care and communication from teachers.

“Its been a moment of clarity and focus for school districts who have LEP students,” said Susan Gryder, Director of Sales for Over-the-Phone Interpretation. 

The pandemic also prompted teachers to use phone interpretation services in new ways. Before 2020, schools tended to use phone interpretation services primarily for parent teacher conferences or to complete Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). During the last school year, many more teachers used interpretation services to call home and check in with individual families.

See it in action:

The city of Everett, Massachusetts implemented Lionbridge interpretation services for its school districts. A vast majority of the usage of the service came from individual teachers calling home to families to ensure students were logging into class, and to identify pain points if students were unable to participate. Thanks to Lionbridge’s world-class pool of interpreters, teachers were able to communicate with families in any language.

Two people speaking via video call

How do Lionbridge Phone Interpretation Services Work?

Once a school district has a contract with Lionbridge, there are two key ways phone interpretation services work:

  • If a teacher is calling home to a family, the teacher will call Lionbridge and get an interpreter on the line. The interpreter or the teacher can then conference in family members, and the interpreter and teacher will have a conversation with those family members.
  • If a teacher and a family member are having an in-person meeting, the teacher can conference in an interpreter on speakerphone. The interpreter then works as if they are in the room with the teacher and family member.

Lionbridge has offered phone interpretation services for over 20 years. Our rapid connection times and breadth of languages make us a key partner in communicating quickly. Our interpreters are trained in over 350 languages and are well-versed in communicating in an educational setting.

Want to Learn More About Phone Interpretation Services?

Visit our resource page for phone interpretation services, or get in touch to learn how you can use Lionbridge services in your school district. 

linkedin sharing button
  • #technology
  • #interpretation
  • #blog_posts

Christy Kuesel
Christy Kuesel