Communication with Families

Communication is the first, and one of the most critical steps to engaging families and creating strong relationships. Schools and districts explore and connect with community partners to use multiple methods of communication. This page provides suggestions and resources for schools and districts to create inclusive, two-way communication practices to engage families of English learners in supporting their child’s learning at home and in school. 

Partners in Communication 

Connections can be created by working with community groups, a diverse stakeholder team and district English learner plans. Potential partners who bring value to communication with multilingual families are listed below. 
  • Community partners: It is important to partner with community organizations to reach culturally and linguistically diverse families. The community resource working group of the Ohio English Learner Advisory Committee recommends that schools begin by taking time to understand the language skills and cultural identities of the families of students. This information may be obtained by school staff who are responsible for administering the language usage survey that is conducted for all students. Question 1 provides information about parents' preferred modes of communication. Talking with families about the community organizations that they use provides information about which agencies to contact. As an example, one school administrator asked families and found out about La Mega Radio and the  Ohio Habla podcast. In this case, school staff contacted the radio station and the podcast producer to find ways they could collaborate. The school staff utilized the materials as a part of professional learning for staff to understand their multilingual community. 
  • Diverse stakeholder team: School administrators are encouraged to assemble a team of stakeholders including members of the district’s diverse families to assess the accessibility of information for people with limited English proficiency. The team can review websites for accessibility, translation technologies and provide feedback on support plans and processes for families and staff to follow. 

Facilitating Meaningful Communication 

Schools and Districts foster meaningful communication by using responsive techniques. Setting a pattern or cadence of school communications supports all students and families, including those who are culturally and linguistically diverse. Below are some methods that have been successful when communicating with multilingual families.  

Interpreters and Services: Have trained interpreters for spoken communications and         translations of written communications. The following are translation and interpreter resources that educators who serve English learners can use to make learning more accessible. 

  • Talking Points - This app lets teachers communicate in text and video with automatic translation and captioning. It provides direct communication in different languages using phone or internet. A limited version is offered free to educators.  
  • ClassDojo - This app allows translation of messages into more than 30 languages and is available to teachers free of charge. Instantly share photos, videos and announcements on Class Story or privately message with any parent. 
  • Affordable Language Services - This organization provides high-quality interpretation and translation with attention to the specialized needs of education professionals. Rates vary depending upon size and type of product(s) required. 
  • International Language Bank - This Ohio-based company provides translation and interpretation services for more than 200 languages and dialects. Rates vary depending upon size and type of product(s) required. 
  • Access to Interpreters - This Columbus-based company provides a range of interpretation and translation services in more than 70 languages to assist parents with limited English proficiency. Rates vary depending on size and type of product(s) required. 
  • Recorded information: Recorded telephone calls and videos can be developed carefully to ensure that they are understandable to families. Recorded messages should be sent with option to request help in receiving the information that is being disseminated in their home language. 

  • Translation tools for websites: School and district websites can have a webpage translation tool that is easily seen and simple to use. Google provides a free machine translation tool. Districts are encouraged to have native or fluent speakers review documents and other communications whenever possible. 
  • Apps for smart phones: There are several common apps schools use to communicate with families in other languages include Talking Points, Class Dojo, and Say Hi!  Having a single translation app identified for school wide use can increase success for both teachers and families as they go through grade levels.  
  • Establish regular times for communications:Families are more likely to receive and respond to messages that are sent according to regular schedules.  

Last Modified: 8/17/2023 4:29:28 PM