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Helping Non-English Speaking Students and Parents

By Ashleigh Plemper
Farmer Staff Writer

The decision was recently made by the McKenzie County School District No.1 to bring on a bilingual family liaison (full-time translator/interpreter) for this year’s school year.
As part of this initiative, the school district is inviting all parents of English-learning students to an informational meeting on Jan. 14 at 5 p.m. at the Watford City Intermediate School lunchroom for kindergarten through sixth grade students. A second meeting will be held on Jan. 15 at 5 p.m. in the Watford City High School lunchroom for parents of students in grades seven through 12.
The reason for these informational meetings is so that parents can learn what a translator has to offer when it comes to being an English learning family and to emphasize the important role of diminishing the language barrier and encouraging positive relationships with English learning families.
“I did an analysis yesterday and 89.5 percent of our English learner students have a Spanish-speaking background,” says Mari Rasmussen, English Learner program coordinator for the McKenzie County School District No.1. “The other 10 percent are mainly Filipino and we do our best to work with them to make accommodations too.”
Interestingly enough, the number of English learning students has basically quadrupled in the last several years, Rasmussen says. Every year, as the school district tests for English language proficiency, Rasmussen says that the rise of students is quite noticeable each year.
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