Strategies for communicating with non-English speaking parents

Communication is essential in a school setting, and that extends past internal communication with staff and students, including their parents and guardians.

Suppose you’re struggling to contact and communicate clearly with non-English speaking parents, or parents who have identified themselves as not being able to speak English very well. In that case, the following tips and advice could help you bridge that gap.

You want to make every parent or guardian feel just as included as one another.


Create a web version of your newsletter


In most email providers, you can make your newsletter accessible via a web page. You can share a link that when clicked loads automatically as a new window in your browser.

Providing your newsletters in this format means users have the opportunity to utilise Google Translate without your school having to translate each newsletter manually.

Google Translate has been an invaluable tool here at Parentapps. Our support team use Google Translate to help non-English speaking parents who are having trouble accessing the app via email and live chat. We’ve found it’s been instrumental in helping us deliver an inclusive communications strategy to our customers.


Consider investing in a translation service 


If you didn’t want to rely on Google Translate, there are many cost-effective translation services available for your school. This option becomes particularly useful and cost-effective if you have many parents and guardians from the same country.

Some translation companies (like this one: guarantee they’ll beat other quotes online, so it could be a good place to start when gathering your quotes.


Simplify your content

An entirely free strategy is to simplify your content. Communicating in long, drawn-out paragraphs will only make it more difficult for all parents and guardians to understand.

Try writing clear and concise sentences, and break paragraphs up into smaller, digestible segments. Steer clear from slang terms, over-complicated jargon, and analogies.

The clearer you are with your communication, the easier it will be for everyone to understand.

Reach out more frequently

Updating parents once every so often isn’t how you’ll get to know your parents or form better relationships. Reaching out more frequently can mean the difference between an alienated parent and an engaged parent.

Studies show that engaged parents can mean better pupil outcomes.

“The effect of parental engagement over a student’s school career is equivalent to adding two or three years to that student’s education.”

John Hattie’s seminal 2008 study, Visible Learning A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. Source: Parentkind.


Listen and learn 


The best thing you can do is listen and learn from all your parents. Take their feedback on board, if they’re struggling to understand communication, ask them what precisely they’re struggling with so you can outline a plan of action and implement it.

If you’ve gone back and forth on whether a school communication app is a good idea, see how much you could be saving with an app like ours. Use our free savings calculator.