It's September and that means back to school for students, teachers and parents. A strong community in the school is important to ensure a successful learning environment for students. When there are non-English speaking parents it can create a unique challenge for parents, students, teachers and school administrators. Providing translations for schools is a simple way to be inclusive of everyone. The following are some ideas to overcome the language barrier and create a school community where everyone has a voice.
Ask non-English speaking parents 'what is your preferred language?'
When you are struggling to communicate in English with someone, it is just fine to ask "what is your preferred language?" Put the parent at ease by ensuring that you will do everything in your power to provide information in their preferred language.
Use translated Forms, Permission Slips, notes
If you have students with non-English speaking parents, sending notes home in English can make them feel isolated. Have notes, forms, permission slips, etc. translated for the parent's convenience. If you use google translate, make sure to have a human edit it to make sure it gets the message across.
Use an interpreter and not the student
It may be convenient to ask a student to explain to their parent when the teacher has something to share. This can create an awkward family dynamic, especially when student's behavior needs to be discussed. Use a professional interpreter or bi-lingual staff member to provide neutral ground.
Use an interpreter at school-wide/PTA meetings
Even if there is only one non-English speaker, having an interpreter available at a parent meeting can help efforts to include all. An interpreter can sit along side the parent and explain the content as well as represent their voice if they would like to contribute.
Help non-English speakers feel welcome in your school community
Having different cultures and languages represented enriches everyone in the community. Creating an inclusive environment where different languages are embraced will help everyone to feel part of the group. This will increase parental involvement which is a key factor for student success.
We know some translators and interpreters ready to help for affordable rates. Check out linguistlink.net.
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