Bismarck Public Schools is using new technology when it comes to communication between parents and school staff who speak different languages.

Interactive Language Assistant is a system that breaks the language barrier between parents and school staff through a tablet device. The app works by first selecting a language and speaking a thought.

The app then reads to the other recipient holding the tablet the conversion of the language.

This innovative technology is a pilot program and, if successful, the school district plans on ordering 10 more tablets.

“Languages you’ve probably never heard of and sometimes we haven’t either,” EL Program Coordinator Wendy Sanderson said.

The purpose of the technology is to help parents of refugee students who aren’t fluent in English communicate with the school district.

The Refugee School Impact Grant is awarded to the largest English as a second language learner population in North Dakota.

Bismarck is one of four school districts to have received the grant.

“When parents come in to register their kids for Bismarck schools, and if they are uncomfortable with the language, they can feel more comfortable coming in here talking through ILA and really feeling understood,” Sanderson said.

There are 367 students learning English in the district.

The grant is worth $200,000.