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New Earbuds instantly translate a teacher’s voice into any language: See how it works

'They helped me a lot to understand what they were saying to me'
Posted at 4:06 PM, Oct 24, 2023

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV) — It's a power combination used in the classroom, an iPad, and a set of earbuds from the company Timekettle. As someone, like the teacher, talks the iPad acts as the mic, after about a five-second delay, it translates to the earbuds in the student's language.

"It also has a written translation on the iPad screens, so the students can refer back to it," said Lillian Mescher, the English language learner instructional coach for the Council Bluffs Community School District.

Ninth-grade Abraham Lincoln High School students Juana Andres and Juana Martin spoke to 3 News Now in Spanish. Their iPads translated it for Reporter Molly Hudson to English.

"When I used them the first time, I felt uncomfortable using them, because I didn't like using them," said Andres in Spanish.

But with time.

"They began to help me understand some teachers. They helped me a lot to understand what they were saying to me," Martin said in Spanish.

The technology can translate to the specific dialect of a language too.

"If we have somebody from El Salvador versus Honduras, they are receiving their translation in the dialect that they are used to," said Mescher.

The Council Bluffs Schools Foundation grant was $2,000 — $1,000 for Abraham Lincoln High School and $1,000 for Thomas Jefferson High School.

Mescher says they were able to secure some additional funding, too.

So far 22 students in the district are using the earbuds. 11 at each high school.

Mescher applied for the grant and said they provide access, "they are getting that direct instruction, with the support of their native tongue."

Students use the earbuds in core classes like Math, English and Science.

Juana and Juana said they have even used them to make friends.

The Council Bluffs Community Schools District said they are using the translation earbuds for five of the 25 languages that students speak in the district right now. the earbuds are about $300 each. The hope is that if the district can get more sets, they will be implemented in the middle schools next.

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