Back to School! What Content to Translate for Parents Who Don't Speak English

The back-to-school season is officially in full swing! As an educator or provider of educational materials, you already know how important it can be to understand the needs of your students both inside and outside of the classroom. You may also already be familiar with some of the difficulties that present themselves if a student’s parents speak a language other than English. It’s hard to know whether or not these parents fully understand some of the important papers, documents and materials distributed to their children. In fact, you might not even receive some of the information back that needs to be signed/returned. To best serve your students, parents, and teachers alike, we’ve compiled a list of items you may want to have translated in order to help ensure clear communication between the school and parents.

  • guides to help parents assist their children with reading/homework;
  • official school documents (i.e. handbooks, dress code guidelines, admissions packets, emergency and safety procedures);
  • your website (or the parts most pertinent to what parents may need to review);
  • parent surveys or other notices sent home, especially those that require a parent signature;
  • report cards and progress reports;
  • athletic events or forms;
  • email newsletters directed toward parents

If you send your students’ parents information in their preferred language, you will increase the likelihood of parent involvement and communications throughout the school year, which will, in turn, help set your students up for success. And we already know what you’re thinking… “If I send out information in the parents’ primary language, how can I communicate with them if they call or show up with questions?” To that, we say, “Don’t worry!” We have a set of solutions to help you communicate verbally with parents (and kids!) as well.

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Knowing where to begin can be difficult, especially if you have a diverse population of students! First, it is key to know the demographics of your school district or those consuming your educational materials. This will help tremendously. We recommend choosing one or two of the languages most commonly spoken and building your translated material offerings from there. If you have any questions about the process of having these things translated by a professional team, we are always here to help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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