CULTURAL DIVERSITY PRESENTATION
Thereare many factors that have a direct impact on learning outcomes amongEnglish Language Learners. Among the most important factors is therole of parent in the learning process. Some English LanguageLearners’ parents are not English speakers. This limits theirability to actively get involved in English language learningprocess. However, there are numerous benefits that are associatedwith parental involvement in the learning process. In addition tobeing non English speakers themselves, parents of English LanguageLearners are likely to shy away from the language learning processand the school system because of limited skills or inadequatefamiliarity with the education system and cultures in the newenvironment. They are also likely to consider the school environmentunwelcoming depending on how they are treated by the teachers, schooladministrators and the school community in general (Linse et al,2014). This paper discusses some of the activities that can be usedto enhance parent involvement in the education of English LanguageLearners.
Activity1: Use of preferred language
Althougha good number of English teachers may not be able to speak thepreferred language of communication in a multilingual schoolenvironment, their use of the common language is an essentialactivity in learning English among English Language Learners.Speaking the common language is an essential starting point for anEnglish teacher. The lack of a common language through which basiccommunication between the teacher and the learners’ parents cantake place is an important impediment to learning English amongEnglish Language Learners. It is important to note that the teacheris expected to teach the learners and not their parents. However, ifthe teacher is unable to communicate with the parents, probablythrough the preferred language, the critical role of parents in thelearning process is diminished (Calderón & Minaya-Rowe, 2003).However, this activity does not apply across the board. The activitywill mainly target parents who are non bilingual and does not speakEnglish. Parents who are English speakers as a second language do notrequire this activity. Also, the activity is essential for learnersof all ages.
Theactivity will require the services of an interpreter who is fullybilingual. However, the activity is more useful if the Englishteacher is bilingual. The teacher can use any person in the schoolvicinity as an interpreter to aid communication between teachers andparents during conferences, meetings and other regular communication.It is inappropriate to use learners in aiding the use of preferredlanguage in teacher parent communication. This is because this tendsto diminish the power of the parent of a teacher in English learning.The services of an interpreter should be used in the short term.However, to facilitate the application of these activities inenhancing parental role in English learning, the teacher needs tolearn the preferred language of communication (Calderón &Minaya-Rowe, 2003). For example, if the English Language Learners arefrom a Spanish speaking community, it is necessary for the teacher tolearn basic Spanish. This will enhance the ability of the teacher touse the preferred language among English Language Learners and theirparents. This will have significant impacts on the learning outcomes.There are several reasons that make this activity essential inenhancing parental role in English learning. This activity enhanceparental role by respecting multilingualism in the English learningenvironment. English Language Learners come from diverse backgroundsand learn English language for different reasons. Using preferredlanguage when talking to parents, either directly or through aninterpreter shows respects to the parents. It also indicates thecontribution of multiple linguistic in English language teaching(Linse et al, 2014).
Activity2: Home and community visits
Homeand community visits are aimed at enhancing the relationship betweenthe learning environment and the home or community environment. Therelationship enhances the learning process during school hours aswell as when the English Language Learners are at home or in thecommunity. These activities are applicable to all groups of students.However, the program is more effective for younger English learners.In some cases, parents feel intimidated by the school environmentmaking it difficult for them to visit the learning institution. Thisreduces their involvement in their children learning. In some cases,parents are unable to visit the school environment because they arenot English speakers themselves. To bridge this gap, an activitywhere teachers and instructors visit the community and homes toenhance the role of parents in English learning is essential.Additionally, the activity gives parents more confidence toparticipate in the learning process (Linse et al, 2014).
Thereare different contexts in which home and community visits activitiesby the teachers and instructors can occur. Teachers who haveparticipated in home and community visits have argued that they arevery effective and have positive effects on English Language Learners(Calderón & Minaya-Rowe, 2003). However, it depends in thesocial and cultural context in which the learning takes place. Italso depends on the nature of the educational system. For example, ina Japanese dominated community, home and community visits are veryessential. This is because in the Japanese traditions, classroomteachers and instructors are required to visit the learners in theirhomes every year. In addition to enhancing to role of parents inEnglish learning, home visit enable the teacher to understand thelearner’s world and give appropriate advice to the parents on someof the home based interventions that can improve the mastery ofEnglish language. The activity also gives the teacher an opportunityto engage parents who are relatively invisible in their children’slearning process. Despite it being very effective in increasingparental role in English learning among English Language Learners,home visits are faced with some obstacles and challenges. In manysocieties, teaching is respected profession. Therefore, parents arefaced with a lot of pressure as they prepare for teachers visits. Onthe other hand, teachers have argued that availability of time is themain barrier to this activity. Also, there are some preparationsthat teachers need to make before visiting homes and communities. Forexample, teachers may be unable to visit homes on their own. Theteacher may require a colleague to accompanying him or her during thevisits. Additionally, seeking the approval of the schooladministration and other authorities as well as receptive responsefrom the parents is essential (Linse et al, 2014).
Activity3: Welcoming parents to schools
Activitiesthat promote parental and family role in learning English languageare aimed at creating contact between the learning environment andthe home environment. Welcoming parents to the school promotes theaccessibility of parents which increases their involvement in thelearning environment. There are several ways through which teachersand school administrators can welcome and engage parents in thelearning environment. Additionally, these activities are suitable tolearners of all ages. For example, in a Spanish dominated society,the school can host as “Spanish language back to school night”.The event can be held at the beginning of the academic year whereparents who are non English speakers are invited. This activity mayinvolve the services of interpreters, arranged transport andaccommodation. The school can also organize orientation programswhich are aimed at creating sessions between educators and parents.During these sessions, through the assistance of bilingualfacilitators, the parents can be informed about the languageprograms, what is expected from the parents and basic informationabout the school system (Calderón & Minaya-Rowe, 2003).
Otheractivities that welcome parents of English language learners inschools include parent and teachers conferences, open classrooms andspecial events. Special events include any school event in whichparents can be involved. An example of a special event is sports dayor academic day where student can exhibit their academic and extracurriculum achievement. These events have been found to havesignificant impact on parental involvement in language learning. Openclassrooms are aimed at engaging parents in the language learningprocess. For example, parents can be requested to attend a classroomwhere they observe their children as they learn. Teachers-parentsconferences are essential in creating a welcoming atmosphere in theschool. Through these conferences, parents are able to relatedirectly with teachers which creates a good working relationship(Linse et al, 2014).
Teachersand school administration have a responsibility of ensuring thatparents of English Language Learners are involved in their children’slearning process. It has been proven that parental involvement has animportant impact on learning achievement among learners. There areseveral activities that can promote parental involvement whichinclude use of preferred language, home and community visits andwelcoming parents to schools.
Calderón,M. E., & Minaya-Rowe, L. (2003).Designing and implementing two-way bilingual programs. A step-by stepguide for administrators, teachers and parents. ThousandOaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Linse,C. et al. (2014). Parentsand young learners in English language teaching: global practices andissues in school home contacts.ELT Research Paper 14.04, British Council.