MyState App goes multilingual


Caitlin Ellingson/Iowa State Daily

The MyState app will be expanded to appeal to a larger audience by adding multilingual options for those whose primary language is not English. This change will help many students since ISU has approximately 3,980 international students enrolled in fall 2014 who came from over 100 countries, with the majority of them speaking a foreign language.

By Tong Lin

The ISU MyState app helps ISU students in a variety of ways. It provides a CyRide schedule, campus map, news updates, a directory and more, but it does this in only one language: English.

Have you ever thought about getting this necessary information about the ISU campus in other languages?

The Government of the Student Body has been working on making the MyState app multilingual for students whose native language is not English.

“The idea of making [the] MyState app multilingual is one of the easier ways to enhance cross-cultural communication on campus,” said Presha Kardile, GSB director of student diversity and senior in management. “International students tend to struggle with languages when they just get here. It’s easier to make them feel at home and welcome.”

GSB is considering making the app in Mandarin and Spanish because of the large amount of the Chinese students and students from Spanish-speaking countries on the campus. International students make up about 12 percent of the student population. There are almost 2,000 students from China, the country from which there are the most international students, with about 3,500 students from Asia. There are just over 200 students from 16 Spanish-speaking countries, according to the ISU Fact Book.

“At this point, the app is undergoing a second-phase update, and we will be resuming our project next semester once this update is completed,” Kardile said. “The only thing we have done was talking about the application and [seeing] if there were more languages we would like to add.”

She said she is excited to see how this project is going to turn out.

Brittany Dudley, senior in finance, did a survey for her English project and discovered that 66 percent of the respondents have used the MyState app. About 97 percent of responders used the app for the CyRide schedule, 88 percent used it for the campus map and 85 percent used it to look up where buildings are on campus and when the dining centers are open. 

“MyState app has an effective way of engaging students to acquire more news about campus,” said Zhengyu Liu, graduate student in civil, construction and environmental engineering. Liu is from China. “Multilingual is a great idea but not necessary for the app that was actually being used. Enlarging the app system will be more helpful for the students. Links to the AccessPlus, Blackboard and school [websites] will be even more important than making the app multilingual.”

International students are not the only ones interested in this project — American students are also looking forward to using this upgrade to possibly help them learn another language.

“I think it’s a good thinking of making this app multilingual,” said Rachel McDermott, freshman in open option. “People can actually learn some new languages while playing with their phones.”