Creating a welcoming school environment extends to not only the classroom and campus, but also to the families of students. For families that are bilingual, whether they speak Spanish, German, or one of the many other languages that is spoken throughout the USA, encouraging them to attend parent teacher conferences can be challenging, but is incredibly important to their child’s academic success. Here are a few tips for making connections with bilingual families.
- Prior to meeting, have a bilingual invitation ready to send to the parents. Establishing this connection prior to the conference sets a base that then you can build upon with a follow up phone call to encourage them to come and meet with you. Make sure to do a reminder phone call or email the day before. Our parent teacher conference email template is easy to use and translate.
- Arrange for an Interpreter- Your school district will have resources to find an interpreter that is familiar with educational vocabulary and has the right level of fluency. The student should not be the interpreter. Also be aware that a bilingual conference will be longer due to the dual languages. Have the interpreter come to the meeting a few minutes early so that you can brief them on the student and what will be discussed during the meeting to give them a base.
- During the meeting itself, be sure to speak towards the parents. While it may seem counterintuitive, this is how professional interpretations occur. Be sure to speak slowly and clearly, allowing time for the interpreter to translate. If you are using printed materials, make them as simple as possible and easy to understand. You may even be able to have one side printed in English and the other in the parents native language.
- Offering additional support can be a way to not only build the parent teacher relationship but also show that your primary goal is to support their child. Point out free resources that may be available in both languages at the local library, other school resources, and always encourage reading in both languages at home.
A parent teacher conference provides parents with insight into their child’s academic life. Making sure that parents attend these meetings is incredibly important which is why we created our parent teacher conference scheduling software that is easy to use for both parties.