As population becomes more diverse, need for interpreters rises

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OLATHE, Kan. --The need for interpreters continues to grow in school districts across the country as the population becomes more diverse. Locally, some districts have more than 100 different languages to deal with when it comes to communicating with families.

In the Olathe School District, students and their families speak 72 different languages. Outside of English, Spanish is the largest. Heading into parent teacher conferences, there are several languages that the districts need interpreters for.

Language Specialist Rocio Montenegro said the district is now searching oral language interpreters.

“They will be the bridge between the school system and the families, they attend meetings for IEP, also parent teacher conferences,” said Montenegro.

The big needs at the moment are Korean, Japanese, Dinka, Somali and Vietnamese. The Olathe School District employs 13 full-time interpreters and about 50 Spanish speaking freelance workers.

Montenegro said she tries to have at least two interpreters for each language needed.

By comparison, 110 different languages are spoken in the North Kansas City School District. It employs more than a dozen interpreters and outsources the rest through a third party company. The same is done in the Shawnee Mission District.

“Our goal in any public school is to try and reduce those barriers, so we are working very hard to ensure we have supports in place,” said Dr. Ed Streich, the Chief Academic Officer for the Shawnee Mission School District.

The Shawnee Mission School District currently provides schooling for families that speak 81 different languages.

If you are interested in working as an interpreter for the Olathe School District, visit their Facebook page.

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