FREDRICKSBURG, VA—During the annual Family Math Expo held by Stafford County schools, an ESL teacher looking for some help with a few students not fluent in English wandered into the First In Math lab.
“She did not know much about First In Math, and at first probably wondered why I was trying to show her how a mathematics program could help out with her language issues,” says long-time First In Math Virginia representative Brock Estes.
Estes showed her First In Math in several languages on his Mac laptop, and also had the computer read some questions aloud from the Know & Show 5&6 module. “She loved it, of course. Aside from being impressed by the power of the program just for the math itself, I think she saw quickly how math could be another way to work with her kids, whereas before she was almost entirely focused on the language arts arena and other textual studies.”
“First In Math has always been a top-notch math supplement that I recommend to all my schools, but I think this multiple language feature can have a significant impact in many classrooms, and I am excited to be able to offer it, says Estes.”
How does it work? By taking advantage of some already-existing technology that is native to Apple (Mac) devices.
“We recently upgraded our architecture so that we can now offer the entire FIM site—including all the Know & Show word problems—in almost any language,” says First In Math creator Robert Sun. “K&S word problems can also be read aloud in Spanish, or any other language, using the text-to-audio features built into any Mac.”
Currently, any computer, laptop or tablet with an iOS operating system running the Google Chrome browser can provide automatic language translation on the fly—written on the screen, or read aloud. (FIM programmers are working to document easy instructions that will help schools enable this feature for PCs, as well.)
Sun sees this expanded access as an important feature for ESL students—and their families. “Because First In Math offers parents their own User ID and Password through the Family Link feature, showing Spanish speaking parents how to access First In Math in their native language may serve as a more welcoming invitation to participate in their child’s education.”
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