Adapted from www.colorincolorado.org
Arrange for an interpreter
It is very important that students are not the interpreters. They may not necessarily be forthcoming if they do not like the information being presented. (Some teachers have reported that a few of their Spanish-speaking students told their parents that ‘F’ stood for “Fantástico”.)
Enlist help to find an interpreter if necessary
If you do not have an official interpreter available at your school, talk to your principal and/or school district about the need to get one. If another bilingual parent, friend or family member offers to serve as an interpreter, make sure that the conference parent is comfortable with this.
Create an interpreters’ schedule with other teachers
Be aware that interpreters may have many classrooms to assist. If possible, collaborate with other teachers to establish an “interpreters’ schedule.”
Speak with the parents, not the interpreter
During the conference, always make eye contact with and talk directly to the parent (as opposed to speaking with the interpreter).
Speak evenly and pause frequently
Speak at a measured pace (not slowly or more loudly), and pause often so the interpreter can translate a manageable amount of information.
Discuss educational plans and the parents’ expectations
Some schools develop educational plans with the parents, and this may be a new concept for ELL parents. Simplify the process by asking the parent, “What do you hope your child will learn this year?” or “What do you want your child to get better at?”
Offer translated information if possible
Many schools now offer basic student progress forms in two languages — English on one side and a second language on the other.
Encourage reading at home
Emphasize the importance of reading at home in the student’s native language and English. The important thing is to encourage the joy of reading and to continue to support the development of both languages.