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Communicating with ELL Parents: Outreach & Strategies

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  • 0:00 Parent-Teacher Connections
  • 0:32 Communication Strategies
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Instructor: Amanda Wiesner-Groff

Amanda has created and taught English/ESL curricula worldwide, has an M.Ed, and is the current ESOL Coordinator for the Saint Louis Public School District.

Having trouble touching base with the parents of your ELL students? Not sure where to start? This lesson will help. We'll go over some strategies you can use to reach out to your students' parents.

Parent-Teacher Connections

When it comes to reaching out to the parents of your English language learner (ELL) students, you may feel a little nervous. What if they do not speak English, or just a little? What if they're reluctant to speak with you? Whatever your reservations, it's crucial for your students' learning that you make that parent-teacher connection.

This lesson will give you some strategies to help make communication easier, so you can keep ELL parents involved in their child's learning. Let's get started.

Communication Strategies

The following strategies will help you reach out to your students' parents in order to help create a home-school connection. By creating this connection, students will feel more supported. Therefore, they'll have a better chance of attaining their academic and language goals.

One of the first things you'll want to do is learn about your students' first languages and cultural backgrounds. Try to find out as much as possible so you can be sure to show proper respect as you offer support that best suits their needs.

If allowed, consider home visits so you can personally introduce yourself to your students' families. If they're not allowed, invite the families to personal meetings at school so you can share information about yourself and they can share any necessary information you'll need about their children. Personal meetings also provide opportunities to learn about any special goals, beliefs, requests, traditions, or concerns they may have. Show respect for their wishes and beliefs, and also be sure to state your own goals and intentions as the teacher.

There are a number of ways to keep parents up to date on what students are learning and the progress they're making. Depending on the English language level of your ELL parents, you can use programs that have translation services built right in. Consider some of the following options:

  • Classroom apps for daily updates, student progress reports, classroom photos, and bilingual options
  • Classroom blog or website with customized pages, widgets, files, attachments, and translations
  • Daily e-mails that automatically translate the contents if needed

Even if you use technology to keep parents up to date on what students are doing in class, you may want to offer a way for parents to keep you informed on any issues that might be important at home. Have students keep a daily folder with their homework, grades, assignments, or class notes on one side and a place for their parents' notes on the other side. This provides parents with a place to send in paperwork, questions, or notes as a way of maintaining communication. Should you receive a note from parents, be sure to respond promptly in the appropriate manner.

Consider scheduling more parent-teacher meetings to go over any questions, issues, or concerns the parents may have. If you have a number of ELLs in your classroom, why not offer meetings every month where you can cover a particular issue of concern? At monthly meetings, you can:

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