MADISON (WKOW) -- For a growing number of students in the Madison Metropolitan School District, English is their second language and technology is helping some of them become more fluent.
Half a dozen Madison schools have dual language classrooms. At Sandburg Elementary School on the east side, English is a second language for about 50 percent of students there. That's the second highest rate in the district.
Now, the school is using iPads for language immersion in those classrooms. Each child is assigned an iPad to keep at school for their work. Other children in the school also have access to tablets at least once a week. The technology is paid for by a district grant and school funds.
School officials say for the children, the visual and interactive platform has really helped them absorb their second language. Most apps require the students to read, write, speak and listen in both languages.
"That whole process of students listening to themselves doing this oral communication really helps refine everything from their pronunciation to their grammar," says principal Brett Wilfrid.
Teachers say the students are significantly more interested in doing their work now that it involves projects that are interactive, hands on, and visual.
"They can show their parents, they can show their librarian, they can show their peers and they just work so much harder at producing something that they're proud of," says Ashley Coblentz, who teaches a third grade bilingual class at Sandburg. "They love it and when they have a chance to show it they shine."
School officials say iPads could really change the direction of teaching and learning in the future, steering away from memorization and more towards collaboration. They say their biggest fear from the beginning was that kids would get addicted to the technology, since some classrooms use the iPads up to 70 percent of the day. Teachers say they were surprised to see the students have actually spent more time talking and working with each other than ever before.