According to the National Center For Educational Statistics in the 2013-14 school year there were 9.3 percent or more than 4.5 million students classified as English Language Learners. Additionally, in all but 14 states the percentage of ELL students increased between 2003-04 and 2013-14.

This means that it is becoming increasingly important in terms of communications and engagement with your community to offer the ability for your families and other stakeholders to receive your messages in the language spoken at home.

The challenge in most school districts is the fact that while ‘official’ communications may originate with the central office, much of the interaction with students, their family and the local community starts with schools. Our data shows that between 60 – 90% of all electronic communications going to parents, volunteers or community partners come from school staff.

This raises the question of whether to use manual or auto-translation when communicating with ELL families and communities. The practical answer comes down to money. Most school districts cannot afford manual translation services for all messaging going to families. It also can create a logistics nightmare when long documents have to be translated into other languages, or when messages about fast changing situations are held-up by re-translating versions.

Where this leaves most schools and districts is making some tough decisions about priorities for manual translation. Usually this involves manually translating more formal communication that is less likely to require lots of revisions, and leaving the balance to auto-translation tools.

That’s one place where one of Relatrix’ most recent updates can help. With our October 2016 release we added the option to auto-translate email notices sent from our Online Community Portal. We have had the option for sometime to translate the content on our website, but this goes further.

Now each school, having some common and yet many times different language makeup in their communities can individually select a set of languages they want to use when publishing notices or newsletters to their parents, staff and community. This translation set can be included at the top of each email message sent from the school’s community portal, providing recipients with the option to view the entire message in their home language.

You can learn more about setting up this cool new feature on your Relatrix Online Community Portal by visiting our Help Center.