English is the primary language of the United States education system. English is a global language and, therefore, the use of it in the education system makes perfect sense. Communication between teachers and parents although relatively challenging works because both parties, speak the same language. However, when a family is new to the country because they are immigrants or when their native language is not English, communication can prove to be very difficult between a teacher and the student’s family. Children are very fast learners and can, therefore, learn the English language relatively faster than their parents. They may consequently have no problem communicating with their teachers at school but when it comes to parent-teacher communication; it is an entirely new story.
In order to be able to communicate with such families that do not speak English at home, I would employ several strategies. The first step would involve the enlistment of children to translate. As mentioned earlier, young children are very first learners particularly when it comes to a new language as they are constantly interacting with their peers who speak the language. Consequently, they can become bilingual in no time and can be used to disseminate information to their parents and families in a language that they understand fully.
Another strategy I would employ is the use of different colors when it comes to correspondence. This refers to flyers and notices that are given to children to take home to their parents. For instance, if the parent wishes to clarify something, he or she can simply refer to the particular correspondence as “that yellow paper” or that “orange paper."In addition, to enlisting children as translators, I would also use the bilingual staff in the school to form liaisons with the families particularly if the information or communication in question is about the child’s educational development. This is because it is tricky to pass on an explicit analysis of a child’s educational progress to the family through the child himself or herself. If the information is not particularly favorable to the child, he or she can easily alter the message in the course of translating and consequently escape the wrath of the parent.
The rationale discussed above has mainly involved the use of others to facilitate communication with families of students who do not speak English at home. On a personal level, I would also take some key steps that would make the communication with such parents relatively easy. For instance, I would take time to learn some of the key phrases of the language spoken by the families at home. These would include basic pleasantries as well as specific phrases about how the student is performing in school. After doing this, I would invite the families for interaction sessions in the school. I would then ensure that I communicate with them face to face to achieve uncomplicated and positive feedback. The knowledge of a few words of the family’s language as well as their knowledge of a little English and even more important, body language would be enough to communicate with the families about the students overall education progress.
Although as mentioned earlier communication with families of students who do not speak English at home can sometimes be tricky, this communication is crucial as it allows the passage of communication between them. One of the most important pieces of information that is passed through this communication is the student’s academic progress. Families need to be constantly briefed about their child’s development. This way, they are able to assess if their child is developing properly and whether they need to input something in case their development is not as smooth as they would expect. The other key information that would be communicated to the families regards the children’s social development. This refers to how the children interact with their peers at school. These families need to be briefed about how their children are behaving in school to assess whether their behavior is appropriate and if not, take corrective action.
On the other hand, the families could avail crucial information that would help the teacher to serve the student better. The most important of these regards the student’s social weaknesses and strengths as well as his overall social being. The families can provide information about the student’s behavior at home, his preferences and the things he generally shows interest in. In addition, the families can inform of the student’s attitude and perception about the school since the student obviously expresses these to his or her parents once he or she arrives home from school. A teacher is usually well trained on such issues and can thus deduce how to approach and how to work with the student in accordance with his behavior, attitude, perception and general social being, which is in actual sense part of the information been passed on from the student’s family.
As mentioned previously, this communication can take the form of translations but the more advisable form is the one on one communication. This is because the two parties can express themselves explicitly. However, this is not usually easy and in cases where the two parties do not fully understand on another, it would be advisable to use technological means. There are currently many technological translation tools that can automatically translate both spoken and written word.