Highland High School raising funds for translation earbuds to help refugee students

Nov 20, 2023, 5:13 PM | Updated: 6:40 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Highland High School is trying to help their refugee students in a big way, hoping to raise funds to purchase special translation earbuds to bridge the gap for students with little-to-no English-speaking skills.

Highland High has more than 400 refugee students all speaking up to 60 different languages.

“In a school like this you want to help those kids that have a good foundation progress quickly,” Maja Onda said.

Onda teaches two classes for the English development students at the entry-level.

“And those who don’t have a good foundation to help them build those fundamental skills that they need to be successful in their new life here and also in an academic situation. That’s really hard when you’re starting from little to no literacy,” she said.

Breaking barriers

To help break the language barriers, Highland is hoping to purchase about 100 Timekettle Translator earbuds. 

The earbuds are already being used at Herriman High School. Administrators there told KSL at the beginning of the school year the device is a “game-changer.”

“For the kids that come in and they’re like ‘wow, this is a new world and school’s not working for me because I don’t understand what my teachers are saying’, this is a lifeline,” Onda said.

A lifeline two students, Sedra and Kimberly, had the chance to test out Monday.

Sedra speaks Arabic. Principal of Highland, Jeremy Chatterton, was able to have a conversation with her while using the devices. It’s the first time she’s heard a teacher speak to her in her native language at school.

“How does it feel,” Chatterton said. “It’s good,” Sedra said with a smile on her face.

Help in the classroom

Both Sedra and Kimberly are concerned the earbuds could impact how quickly they learn English but are excited to see how this helps them in the classroom.

“I think we’ll be able to learn English, understanding the instructions from teachers with this,” Kimberly said in Spanish.

“I think this will really help some of our kids who just feel lost,” Onda said.

The school is hoping to raise close to $30,000. Your donation will be tax-exempt. To donate, click here. 

For more information you can also call Mindy Smith, Family Support Coordinator at Highland, at 801-949-6569.

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Highland High School raising funds for translation earbuds to help refugee students