Lost in translation: Struggle and success as language barriers reshape Indianapolis schools


As immigration reshapes Indianapolis, schools struggle to keep up

Immigration is rapidly changing Indianapolis and the changes are having major effects on schools.


The immigrant experience: Becoming American in Indianapolis schools

Schools focus on English learners but often overlook cultural understanding of their U.S.-born classmates.


From Burma to Southport: Finding your way in an unfamiliar world

Leaders at Southport High School know exactly what to do when an English learner comes in the door. But it wasn’t always that way. They had to grow, make mistakes and learn, just like their students do.


After fall to an F, trial and error helps Nora rebound

Over the course of a year or two, schools like Nora Elementary can find themselves with an entirely new and challenging focus as they discover their new No. 1 job is teaching non-native speakers the English language.


IPS struggles to bridge the gap with language learners and their families

The sharp growth of English language learners at IPS has led to challenges that IPS says are hard to overcome.


Charter innovations show promising results for teaching language

Three Indianapolis charter schools are trying different approaches to aid children just learning to speak English.


For Indiana’s immigrant students, less funding and more testing

The state slashed funding for English language learners by half over the last decade, at a time when the number of those students rose by 30 percent.


Teachers connect with language learners with strategy and purpose

Teaching students English isn’t magic — there might never be an “Aha!” moment where they suddenly understand. But the strategies teachers use to get through to them are no less impressive.

More Chalkbeat stories on English-learners

10 inspiring minutes on education, freedom and the American dream

Chalkbeat brought together four people featured in this series for a panel discussion. Watch these 10 minutes of highlights and be prepared to be moved.

Video: Advocates for English learners discuss challenges of teaching immigrant students

If you missed the “New City, New Language, New School” program organized by Chalkbeat, WFYI and the Indianapolis Star at the Indianapolis Public Library, watch it here.

A message for teachers of immigrant children: You make a difference

When an Indianapolis school meets new students from Burma, there is a lot the teachers, staff and their new classmates can’t imagine about the students’ life experiences.

After funding boost, schools consider how to better help English language learners

In the wake of this series of stories. key Indiana policymakers are reconsidering how children who need language help are served.

Feds: Schools must serve English language learners better

A new set of guidelines, released Wednesday by the federal Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, sets out to clarify districts’ and states’ obligations to English learners.

New Spanish language immersion charter school gets OK

A year after she was selected by The Mind Trust as an entrepreneur fellow to develop a dual-language charter school, Mariama Carson got the go-ahead to launch.

20 years of Spanish immersion make Lawrence Township a model for Indiana

A just-passed bill encouraging more dual-language study could mean more students learning in both English and a new language.

About the series

“Lost in Translation” is a project about the effects of immigration on Indianapolis schools, brought to you by Chalkbeat and our partners, the Indianapolis Star and WFYI.

Additional resources

We rounded up this list of resources for ELL teachers. Check it out and tell us what you find most useful in the comments section.

Thanks to LUNA for providing the translation for this series.