Teaching children with ESL background

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sammyrahe

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Hello,

I am a pre-service teacher and am conducting a seminar for my cross-cultural communication course at uni and have based it around the question ...

"What can teachers do to communicate information to parents who have only basic English skills, without patronising or being condescending towards these families?"


If you could please share your thoughts/ideas on this it would be greatly appreciated.
Kind regards,

Samantha
 

Tdol

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Parents from what sort of cultural backgrounds?
 
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Hi Samantha,
The first thing I would do is not to take anyone's word for it that their English is very limited. Even if the parents don't say much, they may be able to understand most things you say - you never know. Most likely their receptive English knowledge is above their productive knowledge. So speak to them in a clear, professional tone, and don't slow down or repeat your words unless they ask you to or are obviously confused. Secondly, I'd ask the parents whether they would prefer newsletters etc in their home language, and get them translated if at all possible. I've worked with translators for parents evenings as well, and although it's not easy, it is possible. Third, give them as many ways as possible to communicate with you. That way they can choose the way that is easiest for them. Some parents might have much higher oral skills than literacy skills, so give all the information in person. Then back it up with written information for those families who can understand print better than they can converse. If you send it in electronic format, rather than paper, it makes it easier for them to put it into something like google translate. Allowing parents to email you as well as call or visit will help those parents who are shy or unconfident about their speaking skills. Another idea (which I haven't actually tried yet) is to help the parents to arrange themselves into phone groups. By this I mean that parents with good English and community language skills volunteer to phone round a small group of other parents and make sure they understand your information, clarify it and translate it if necessary. They can then report back to you. Rotate the volunteers on a regular basis, make sure they are properly thanked for their time, and only rely on them when strictly necessary (school trip consent forms etc).

Those are the main things I can think of - hope they help!
Char
 
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