Throughout the school year, foreign born students at Sebring Middle School carried cell phones as translation devices. The Kyocera Hydro cellphones were donated through a partnership with Boost Mobile in Avon Park and Sebring.
Recently six ESOL students sat in a conference room with Sebring Middle School ESOL instructor Michelle De La Paz, discussing how the phones had helped them. They were from Haitian, Mexican, and Puerto Rican backgrounds.
With them was De La Paz and Brian Shelton, the Boost Mobile owner who donated the phones. There, the students checked words as De La Paz discuss
ed the results of the program’s trial year and how she got it transmitting. She said it went better than expected and teachers, students and most of all the students themselves, noticed tremendous progress in speaking and comprehending English.
“By mid-year, they felt confident enough (speaking English), they weren’t even using it anymore and if they did come to a word they needed to know, they would just pick it up and look,” said De La Paz, in her first year at Sebring middle.
To use the new, $100 phones – which were not activated for calls or messaging – Shelton installed a translator application (app) that could be adapted for whatever native language a student spoke, which included one student from India, who spoke Mahalayam.
To use the translator phones, at the beginning of the school year, each student had to sign a contract to return the phones and not use them for anything but translating. At the end of the year, all 14 phones were returned.