Latino Voices

Language Barriers Complicate Remote Learning for Some Families in Chicago


Language Barriers Complicate Remote Learning for Some Families in Chicago

Since Chicago Public Schools were closed to in-person learning in March, the move to remote learning has been difficult for many families. But for the CPS families who speak Spanish at home, there is an additional barrier. 

In a December article for Borderless Magazine, Chicago reporter Amaris Rodriguez spoke to families who said CPS has not done enough to get their children ready for online learning, nor have they done enough to help the Spanish-speaking CPS teachers who have taken on tech support for those families.

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Rodriguez says that with nearly half of CPS students identifying as Latino, many families have had trouble navigating technology used for remote learning. “From talking to teachers and talking to families, it seems that families that had younger students were the ones that had the hardest time,” she said.

Rodriguez recalls her conversations with Chicago teenager Estrella Figueroa, who she profiles in her article.

“It speaks to a lot of what first generation young students are going through … she is the second oldest and she has a lot of younger siblings. She’s responsible not only for her e-learning but also theirs. It’s a 14-year-old trying to navigate a lot of different things that kids just are not prepared for,” Rodriguez said.

The parents of students like Figueroa are turning to teachers for help getting their children online, an additional responsibility that Spanish-speaking teachers must now juggle in addition to their other duties.

“It represents a big burden for the teachers that we spoke with. Teachers are having to navigate this world of e-learning, having to try to switch their courses and their teaching schedules to be doable for students and to meet them where they are,” she said. “So having to add tech help to the support that they offer students is taking away time that they can dedicate to helping students navigating this.”


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