Teacher and bilingual learning expert, Farin A Houk, states the importance of “establishing two-way communication on both sides”, as well as the need for a translation process that is “formal, steady, and reliable.” Houk emphasizes that non-formalised and non-process-driven methods — such as “talking slower or louder, simplified words and gestures, or using students or family for confidential or in-depth translation/interpreting” — are unsatisfactory, unreliable and place EAL families at a comparative disadvantage.
In addition, automated and digitized distribution of multi-language communications also enables schools to survey EAL families in their own language, empowering them to continually improve EAL inclusivity with direct input into EAL programs and support services.
But, make sure you’re ready to take that feedback seriously and act on it — otherwise you run the risk of permanently alienating new EAL families. Houk notes that EAL parents, “should not be ‘included’ to rubber stamp school decisions, or to provide affirmation for school staff about decisions made with no real input”.
An exploration of school communication approaches for newly arrived EAL students: applying three dimensions of organisational communication theory >