distance learning

Language Barrier a Hurdle for Some Parents During Distance Learning

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Before the pandemic, 24-year-old aesthetician Lourdy Despio ran her own salon called Tailord Dreams while her 5-year-old son went off to school each day. 

“He is a very creative boy, he tries to do everything,” she said. 

Now that schools are closed, Lourdy is taking on distance learning and having to teach, not just her 5-year-old but her 8-year-old brother Jayden. The Haitian-born mom speaks the strongest English of the family, but Lourdy explains she still faces challenges. 

“I would try my best to understand, I don’t know everything but I search up, I go on the website, dictionary, try my best to give them the best explanation I can give them," she said.

The good news, Ryan and Jayden are kids who like to learn and there are resources out there that can help Lourdy and other Haitian families. 

Miami-Dade Public Schools family liaison Angel Rodriguez says any of the students and parents in the district needing help with distance learning can call a hotline where people are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. who can speak Creole, English or Spanish. The number is 305-995-4357.

The district website, dadeschools.net, has resources that are fully available in English, Spanish and Creole. Rodriguez also oversees parentacademymiami.com, an online resource provided by Miami-Dade Public Schools.

Rodriguez is a family liaison officer with Miami-Dade Schools. He says properly incorporating Creole translations has its challenges, but it’s a priority.

“Regardless of the software of the curriculum that we buy that we have for families, there is always that additional struggle or challenge to find materials written in Haitian Creole," he said.

Lourdy said she plans on using these resources and passing it along to her community.

“We come here to build the next generation, so it’s only right for us to fight," she said.

On Wednesday, the Haitian community center Sant La is hosting a virtual meeting to help parents navigate distance learning.

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