Communicating With English Learner Families: A Guide for Teachers and Staff

ESOL LogoSuppose one of your students has been coming to school late and her grades are starting to slip. You call home to discuss with the parent, but it is clear that the woman who answers the phone speaks a language other than English. You hang up and wonder how you can best engage with your student’s family. Then you remember that Albemarle County Public Schools has a number of protocols and resources in place to help bridge the school-to-home gap!

What are interpretation and translation, and why are they important?

  • Here is a recent School-to-Home Communication Update from the ESOL Office.
  • The quickest way to engage families is to send information home in Plain English. Google Translate can be fairly comprehensible IF you:
    1. Type Plain English information one line at a time; and
    2. Check the results.
  • Each school receives funds to support interpretation (spoken communication) and translation (written communication).
    • Common spoken interpretation requests include SBIT and IEP meetings; parent-teacher conferences; family engagement events; and phone calls home regarding illness, absences, missed work, and other concerns.
    • Common written translation requests include newsletters, discipline letters, field trip permission forms, and family event flyers. Please allow at least one week for all translation requests.
    • We recommend that schools include this Multiple Languages Insert with all written communications sent home.
  • Schools often designate one person to make interpretation and translation requests. Please see this School Interpretation Contact List (ACPS login required), maintained by the ESOL Office, to find your school’s interpretation requestor.
  • Principals often give general guidelines for using funds; for example, a principal may decide that translating a schoolwide newsletter is a priority, but classroom newsletters should be approved on a case-by-case basis.

What interpretation and translation resources are in place for ACPS staff?

International & ESOL Welcome Center

ACPS ESOL Office staff members are always glad to answer questions, troubleshoot issues, and develop ways to improve two-way communication with English Learner families. Please email (found in Outlook’s Global Address List) or call the ACPS International & ESOL Welcome Center at 434-296-6517.