This semester in my early childhood assessment class we have a peer coaching program where parental communication is a focus. The university has created a High Impact Practice (HIP) Peer Coaching program that we are using to support college students in their development of effective parental communication around early childhood assessment and assessment practices.
Here are 7 tips for meaningful communication with children's parents when English is not their first language created by María Spinetti who is a Guest Blogger and a HIP Peer Coach.
1) Establish what language is best to communicate. Ask parents if they feel comfortable with English or if they would rather have the message translated. Even though it does not take long to translate an email to the parents, doing so demonstrates a willingness to accommodate their needs and helps them feel supported.
2) Establish what is the best way to communicate. Some cultures prefer face-to-face meetings, while others are more used to emails. Let the parents know how to best contact you.
3) Avoid using acronyms no matter how common you think they are. This can be hard depending on your job, but if the parent is translating the message, the acronym won’t translate.
4) Establish your job title and responsibilities. For jobs such as Child Life Specialist, chances are they have never heard of the position before and don’t know what to expect from you. To establish a healthy relationship, it is important to determine expectations from both ends. This doesn’t have to be long, but explicit enough for parents to understand your role.
5) Be succinct. For non-native English speakers it can be daunting or exhausting to read a very long paragraph in a language that they don’t speak very well.
6) When explaining your degree, a lot can be lost in translation. Some countries don’t have AA degrees or use words like major and minor. Similarly, when translating the word “bachelor’s”, there is a high chance that the new word won’t be accurate. I recommend sticking to more universal words such as university or college.
7) If you will be meeting, determine how you are going to communicate. Whether parents need to bring a translator, or your employer will provide one. Maybe they are comfortable enough speaking in English. Either way, sorting this out will allow them to be prepared for your meeting.
Message from today’s guest blogger:
My name is Maria Spinetti, I was born in Venezuela and moved to the United States when I was 18 years old. I’m currently an Early Childhood Education major at the University of Central Florida. Coming from a different culture, I have come to realize how nuances can be difficult to understand and how communication is dictated by cultural practices. Sincerely, Maria Spinetti