ESL program is a program of teaching students English as a second language (ESL). The students are taught English as a second language also referred to as English as a Foreign Language (EFL). This program is meant to prepare students who are traveling to an English spoken country, students who want to join college in a pre-academic program, students who want to learn English for purposes of communication.
In any learning context the teacher, the learner and the parents of the students should have a good relationship to enhance the learning process. In ESL it is very important for the teacher to establish good relationships with their students as well as their parents since ESL is a unique kind of learning where learners are introduced to new English as a foreign or second language.
Strategies Teachers Can Use To Build a Good Relationship with Parents of ESL Students
The aim of establishing a coherent relationship between teachers and parents of ESL students is basically for the benefit of the students learning program. Most of the strategies suggested here will therefore focus on the teacher, student and parents. The school leaders are the ones responsible to enhance these strategies aimed at establishing a good relationship between teachers and parents for ESL students.
Considering the diversity that exists the teacher should organize an orientation program that relaxes the atmosphere making the parents feel accepted in this new environment.(Grant and Wong, 2004).
Many of the parents are migrants and find it hard in coping with their role as parents in school in the new schools where programs and language spoke differ significantly from their native countries. This makes the parents and families of the ESL students desist from visiting the schools, meeting with teachers or participate in school events. Teachers have a duty to strengthen the relationship and communication with the immigrant parents to promote parent involvement and achievement of ESL students. With the increasing number of parents from diverse races and cultures, it becomes important in familiarizing them with the school policies and procedures in the era of No Child Left Behind of the year 2001. (Grant and Wong, 2004)
The following are some of the strategies used by teachers and administrators to enhance the relationship between the teachers and parents of ESL students;
Encourage the Development of Native Language Literacy
The teacher should encourage the parents of the ESL students to practice literacy skills in their native language which will enhance their students learning English. By so doing the parents being involved in the learning process make them feel accepted and can help the parents to participate in the school activities hence supporting the learning process and promoting the student’s academic achievements.
Inviting Parents in School Meetings
The parents of the ESL students should be invited to school and class meetings regularly which make them aware of the school proceeding and various events. The meetings should have translation facilities to ensure that the parents understand each other as well as the teachers. Handouts printed in English and other predominant languages are important as they ensure the administration and the teachers get the relevant feedback from the parents. Information should be passed to them in various ways prior to the meeting to ensure each one of them gets the correct date of the meeting. This meeting enhances the relationship between the teachers and the parents which is transformed into positive learning of the ESL students. (Central Intelligence Agency, 2002)
Recruit Division and Community Resources
The school should call the ESL division resource to assist them in translation so that all the parents can actively be involved in the meeting and its proceedings. The translation should be done to the school documents as well as to all the speeches made by the speakers and also assist parents in asking questions about various issues. If resources are limited, the schools can liaise with the local agencies in providing these essential services. The involvement of businessmen and churches in such meetings encourages the parents of the ESL students to attend the meetings with the school authorities and the teachers.
The governmental organizations can also be included in such meetings with the native parents to assist them in asking questions regarding the students’ welfare, adult English classes and other services in the school such as guidance and counseling.
Providing the Parents with Other Additional Services
The teacher-parents relationship can be improved through the school providing services to the parents during school meetings. The school can organize transport services for the parents to school meetings and back to their residential places. During the meeting the parents with small children can be provided with childcare to help them concentrate on the meeting’s proceedings.
The parents and other family members can be provided with free refreshments during meetings.
Providing the Parents with Relevant Information
Many of the ESL students’ parents are migrants and therefore are not aware of the school policies and procedures in the foreign American schools. The school staff should provide the parent’s wit basic information regarding the following issues;
The school calendar on attendance, holidays and vacations and also other arrangements in the course of the year. (No Child Left Behind Act, 2001)
The school personnel should be introduced to the parents to ensure that they are familiar with the relevant people in case of questions and administration issues.
Procedures of disseminating report cards and other information from the school as well as the grading scale.
Information on courses and expectation levels should be printed in English and other languages of the majority of the parents to enhance understanding.
Individual Interaction with the Teachers and the Students
The teacher should have a personal interaction with each parent and his or her child in order to have a personal understanding of the family. The teacher should take this opportunity to ask questions concerning the student that can help to improve his classroom achievement. On the other hand the parent can have a chance to ask the teacher questions about their children and this interaction is very useful to the relationship between the teacher and the parent of the ESL student.(www.everythingesl.net/quicktips/)
Success to this interaction program and meetings attendance can be difficult because of the native parent’s problem in adopting English spoken atmosphere and therefore the school should ensure all possible means to encourage them to come to the meetings.
Involving Parents in School Activities
The teachers should encourage parents of the ESL students to participate in school activities so that they can have free interaction with the teachers and the students which makes them feel accepted in the new society as parents. When there is a good relationship between the teachers and the parents helps in creating trust and understanding in the school.
Organizing Adult English Classes for Parents
The school can make special arrangements for adult English classes for parents of the ESL students. This will help the parents to have a chance to learn English as a foreign language which will not only be beneficial to them, but to the students as they communicate at home. The parents will be able to participate in school activities more freely than before after learning English. It instills in them self-confidence which allows them to be able to gather useful information about their children’s performance in class. This service will be very convenient since the parents are already familiar with the school environment and the school staff. English classes are provided with request from parents and are some times funded through title III of the No Child Left Behind (2001) which help in paying salaries and building of classes.
Effective Communication Strategy
Effective communication is very important in enhancing relationship between the parents and the teachers. By effective communication we mean there is information transfer and feedback to both the teachers and the parents. This stage is only effective after establishment of adult English classroom for the parents to learn English as a foreign language. Positive phone call between the teacher and the parents improves the atmosphere between the school and parent.
Effective communication ensures consistency and frequency; the teacher and the parent should communicate regularly. There have to be follow-ups that ensure the teacher and the parent keep to their promise on the student performance. When there is communication between the teacher and the parent, the teacher gets information from the parent about the child which can assist the teacher in handling the student and hence learning English as a second language will have positive results. (www.readingrockets.org/article/19308/)
The teacher should surprise the parents of the ESL students on their performance or improvement in school. A surprise call by the teacher who first introduces himself to the parent and then talks about the performance of the students creates a very close relationship between the two. In this way the parent can next time be able to meet the teacher or even call him or her to ask about his or her child in school because they are familiar with each other and can now communicate freely. This good relationship helps the students’ performance as the teacher and the parent can communicate over different issues as they arise concerning the student both at home or at school. (Van Broekhuizen, 2002)
Practicing Non-Discriminative Relationship
The school should establish nondiscriminatory relationships with all parents regardless of their economic background, social background since they are involved in the learning process of their children. This also makes parents build confidence and trust with the teachers and the staff in the school.
The school should also design a program aimed at developing support to the students of ESL families who are immigrants. This helps to improve relationship between the school and the parents.
Good relationship between the teacher and the parents is important to both the school and the students as it gives the students a sense of belonging since they can communicate freely with their parents at home and the parents can also participate in school activities freely hence greater gains for students. School involvement in the cultural activities of the immigrant students’ families, there is a bond that is created which enhances performance of the student. (Epstein, 2005)
Epstein, J. School/family/community partnerships. Phi Delta: Kappan, 1995.
Grant, R.A. & Wong, S. D. Forging Multilingual Communities: School-based Strategies, New York: Macmillan Company, 2004.
Van Broekhuizen, L. Culture and the classroom: Comparing teachers’ and students’ cultural variables. New York: Macmillan Company, 2002.
No Child Let Behind Act, 20 USC § 6301 (2001). Web.
Contacting with parents; Building positive parent teacher relationship. Web.
Central Intelligence Agency. (2002). The world fact book 2001. Web.