For 40 multilingual students from Meadowcreek HS, a recent field trip to Bethesda ES may encourage these future teachers to follow a career path that leads back to Gwinnett County Public Schools. The students are enrolled in Meadowcreek’s Early Childhood Education pathway, members of the school’s Translation Nation Club, or both.
During the visit, the Meadowcreek students had a chance to observe teachers and interact with children served in Bethedsa’s Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program. Bethesda is one of eight Gwinnett elementary schools offering this innovative program this school year. In DLI, students spend half of their day learning in English and the other half learning content areas in another language— in this case, Spanish.
The field trip reinforced the decision to pursue a teaching career in a dual-language classroom for one of the Meadowcreek students. Here are observations from 12th grader Lizbeth, a member of Translation Nation and a pathway participant.
“Growing up in America to parents from Mexico, practicing two languages has always been a part of my life. Still, visiting a classroom full of kids who learn about ecosystems in Spanish made my jaw drop, my stomach turn, and my eyes water. I had the opportunity to visit a Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program at Bethesda Elementary, and I was able to observe 3rd and 4th grade classes as they learned in both English and Spanish.
“All I could think the whole time was, ‘These kids are absolutely amazing!’ I was blown away at just how easy it appeared for these students to be reading and answering questions in Spanish. Students, who we knew had no Spanish background, were having full on conversations with us! It was truly a sight to see and it gave me more motivation to become a teacher.
“Education has been a career that I have always wanted to pursue. Since I am currently a senior and college is right around the corner, I plan to apply at colleges such as Georgia Gwinnett College or Georgia State University to participate in the DLI program. Having the ability to change the lives of these students at such a young age has always been a vision of mine. By giving these students the opportunity to learn with two languages, their minds are already developing at a level higher than everyone else their age.
“For me, becoming a Dual Language Immersion teacher would be a goal met in life, however, changing a child’s life by giving them an education as well as providing them tools they’ll use the rest of their lives… well that right there is the essence of teaching.”
The education-focused pathway is part of the district’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, allowing students to take courses and have experiences that give them exposure to a potential career. Students in Translation Nation hold state certification as interpreters, another potential career opportunity.
The field trip was made possible through a grant-funded partnership between the school system’s Foreign Language and Career and Technical Education offices and Georgia State University (GSU). GSU’s five-year, $2.6 million ESCUELA grant is designed to grow and support the pipeline of bilingual educators, and includes career support for high school students and tuition support for college applicants with an interest in teaching in a dual-language program.
Follow along on this special field trip with a Focus Moment from GCPS TV.
About Translation Nation
Translation Nation students go through a nine-week program to learn interpretation skills and ethical standards employed by professional interpreters. Lessons, role-play, and guest speakers help prepare the students for their interpretation assignments. Students also can participate in a two-year program to earn certification as a written-word translator. Translation Nation students currently provide interpretive services in Spanish, Vietnamese, Burmese, Amharic, and Oromo for before- and after-school parent-teacher conferences and parent events at Meadowcreek Cluster schools. The students also work with the local library and SeSo, Inc., a company that provides a range of professional interpretation and translation services.
“Translation Nation students’ effort and commitment to provide free interpreting services for our ELL (English Language Learner) families, the faculty and staff, and our community partners have helped to close the gap beyond barriers of language and culture,” says Jeimy Soto-Leon, advisor for Translation Nation and department chair for Meadowcreek’s ESOL Department. “These students collaborate, inspire, and own their learning process to give back to our community. It is a life changing experience for them.” She notes that the Translation Nation students also sponsor the Multicultural Potluck Night and the Toy Drive at the school.
Hello! ¡Hola! Bonjour! 안녕하세요! Communication and collaboration in the global marketplace are increasingly valuable skills for our students as they prepare for college, careers, and citizenship after graduation. A program available at a number of Gwinnett elementary school (and expanding to middle and high school in coming years) promises to prepare students for this 21st century reality, and that promise is expanding!
In 2014, Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) launched its Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program in three elementary schools, offering Spanish at Annistown ES and Bethesda ES and French at Trip ES. Since then, five additional elementary schools— Baldwin, Camp Creek, Ivy Creek, Level Creek ES, and Meadowcreek ES— have started the program, all with Spanish language offerings. Beginning in August of 2019, Parsons ES will launch the district’s first Korean DLI program.
Gwinnett uses a research-based, 50-50, two-teacher model that calls for students to spend half of their day learning in English and the other half learning content areas in the other language. Through the program, students will develop proficiency in both English and a new language, while ensuring both academic achievement and intercultural competence. The program launches with kindergarten students, then builds by one grade level every year as each cohort of students moves through school. Gwinnett’s first DLI schools are serving students in grades K–4 this school year.
Registration for next year’s incoming kindergartners will begin in the spring. The schools will accept transfers if available slots are not filled by students in the school zone. Out-of-zone families must provide transportation.