Welcoming pupils. And parents.

We’re now thinking about how we welcome new pupils at the beginning of the school year. This blog largely exists in order to share strategies, resources and insights connected with teaching students with English as an Additional Language. Now we want to add a very important element: their parents.

Of course, you’ll be sharing information with parents, and welcoming them, but sometimes there’ll be a language barrier. I’ve heard about real problems that schools are having in this area, through the year. Mantra Lingua can help you to reach out within the bounds of what is possible, by easily producing documents in English and a language of your choice (the Translation App works quickly, and employs real people). Simpler still is the famous Welcome Booklet. PENpal enables an interpreter to record content connected with words on the page. With creative thinking, there are many strategies available to you as you think about EAL.

As the Flexi-lingual blog puts it so passionately (say nice things about me on Twitter and you’ll get a mention here – just kidding), schools need to encourage ‘discussion and dialogue’ in conversations with EAL families. Because the situations are often more complex than forms allow. (I love the comment about ‘It depends’ rarely getting space on a form as an answer to the question, ‘What is your home language?’ This issue of classification is something I’ve discussed below).

There is a lot to pick up here connected with how we go about reaching out to parents, but a baseline is to present clear, welcoming information from the beginning. We believe that ‘discussion and dialogue’, and a sense of trust, are achievable. We believe that establishing good relations, with the help of language support from Mantra Lingua, will encourage and facilitate good practices in every area: teaching, pastoral care, and those thorny issues around data collection.

So that’s our starting point. More soon…