Thursday, September 7, 2017

7 Reasons Schools Partner with Language Service Providers

You are a Kindergarten teacher getting ready to start another year of the hardest and most fulfilling job anyone has on the face of the earth. You have been teaching Kindergarten for more than 15 years and can instantly adjust for the shy kids, the crazy kids, the attention-starved kids, the smart kids, and the kids who need extra help. Are you ready for the kids that do not speak English? Are you ready to work and talk with their parents?

Now, it is freshman orientation and a room full of parents and future students are crammed into the hot gym to listen to the principal, counselors, and senior student body talk about how great freshman year is going to be. You have this amazing presentation to excite the kids, alleviate parent concerns and make sure the kids know where to go on their first day. The faculty is pumped and just as nervous as the freshman for school to start. You walk out onto the gym floor with your slide show loaded, ready to start the year off with a bang. Looking around the room you are excited at the diversity of the various ethnic backgrounds. Will they be able to understand your English-only presentation?


Here are 7 reasons you should work with a language services provider for communication with parents and students who do not speak English fluently.


1. Legal Requirements

Any communication of information about programs, services or activities, provided by the school to English-speaking parents, must also be presented in a language that can be understood by parents with limited English proficiency.


“Where the inability to speak and understand the English language excludes national origin minority group children from effective participation in the educational program offered by a school district, the district must take affirmative steps to rectify the language deficiency in order to open its instructional program to these students."


2. Immediate Access

All great language service providers are able to connect you to a phone interpreter in 30 seconds or less. We know schools move fast and accidents occur at any moment, so timing and access should never be compromised. This requires access 24x7x365, which allows you to cover sporting events, after-school activities, and teachers who work tirelessly into the evening.



3. Language Availability

An individual school or district is rarely able to cover all languages on their own. Even the top eleven most commonly reported languages (according to the US Dept. of Education) is an exciting list of diverse languages. Often, schools struggle to service languages of lesser diffusion, such as Hmong, Arabic, Tagalog, or Haitian Creole. Knowing your student body’s language demography is important, so you can effectively review a potential language service provider’s list of supported languages.
Table 1. Eleven most commonly reported home languages of English language learner (ELL) students: School year 2014–15



4. Pay as You Go

Budgets are mulled over across districts and schools. One of the great advantages of Over-the-Phone interpretation (OPI) services is that you are only charged for the services you use. Also, many language service providers have usage portals and should be able to separate the invoice by departments/schools in the district for billing purposes. You can leverage the usage information from the portal to assist in budget allocation for the next quarter, and then roll it up for end-of-year totals.



5. Prevent Miscommunication

Some schools suggest enlisting “older” children to interpret. You can understand how unprofessional this decision is. Since it’s also illegal, it can pose a huge legal risk to the school and its administration.

Using qualified interpreters ensures professionalism is maintained, providing unbiased communication between the school and non-English speaking students and parents.
Batman pun for batmobile


6. Student Success

Reaching out to parents in their native language will not only generate their support, but will likely increase academic achievement. For example, in certain families, field trips to the zoo are seen as an extravagance and not a necessity. When teachers or school officials send home (translated) permission slips, it may help to include a flyer that explains the inherent value of the trip, translated into the language of the family.
Smiling young Asian boy in baseball hat holding school project



7. Trusted Partnership  

Language Services Providers work with the schools to provide services that make sense. CTS LanguageLink knows that education is not only YOUR job, but it’s also OURS! You are encouraged to create your own program and we will use our 25+ years of experience to work with you to augment your program with proven, time-tested services.


Fast forward to today, the valedictorian, unable to speak English when starting Kindergarten and now graduating with straight As, is preparing to give the speech of a lifetime. His or Her entire family is there to watch and listen to the speech. But you have no worries about any of the non-English speaking family members attending. You are prepared. You have secured CTS LanguageLink’s services, and you are confident that all will be able to understand the speech in their native language.

Schools can take advantage of NASPO contract prices, for over-the-phone interpretation by signing up.