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A Guide to Engaging Your ELL Parents

A Guide to Engaging Your ELL Parents

Several studies done on parental engagement have shown a connection between family involvement and student academic achievement. This means that parental engagement is especially important for students who face additional obstacles to learning, like English language learners (ELLs). Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for parents of ELL students to feel intimidated or discouraged from becoming actively engaged with their children's education due to language barriers or other cultural differences.

We know that you have a lot of things on your plate, so we gathered several resources to help you find ways to encourage your ELL parents to engage more.

Develop a plan to address language barriers

ELLs typically come from households where the dominant language isn’t English, so there is a strong possibility that their parents may not be able to communicate with you as well as they would like. Do some preliminary research on your ELL families, and prepare for ways to communicate more clearly with parents who may not speak English. Here are some articles with ideas on overcoming language barriers:

Amber Prentice, an ELL middle school teacher, shares some of the strategizes she uses for overcoming the language barrier during ELL parent outreach.

Read about how one teacher uses instant translation technology to bridge the gap between her and her ELL parents.

Embrace and understand cultural differences

Understanding the cultures of your ELLs families’ will help you understand your students more. Even a small effort to learn about and embrace their language, foods, customs, and values will help your ELL students and families feel more welcome. The articles below provide tips on learning about your students’ cultural backgrounds:

This article gives you some pointers for things you should consider learning about your students and their backgrounds.

Read this article for an interesting take on learning about your students’ personal lives, backgrounds, and family foundations.

Maybe you’ve already started learning about your ELL students. This article provides some strategy recommendations for your approach.

Empower parents of ELLs with resources for tips on helping academically at home

 All parents usually want help their students with work outside of the classroom. For ELL parents to do this successfully, they need to feel confident and capable of understanding the work themselves. As an educator, you can provide them with resources they need to feel that empowerment. These articles share ideas about ways that you can empower your ELL parents:

This is a great resource for parents who may not speak any English. The article gives recommendations for ways that they can still make a positive impact and help their children grow.

Watch this video about Douglas Wheeler, a kindergarten teacher in Richmond, California, who encourages parents to come in and be a part of class, making themselves available for their children. This allows the parents to learn as well, and in turn, they can reinforce the lesson at home.

Looking for more ways support your ELL students in the classroom? Check out our blog posts for supporting ELLs in the elementary or mainstream classroom.