Working effectively with parents in the school setting is always a challenge. When the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of teachers and parents differ, the challenge becomes more complex. Washington and the nation as a whole are becoming more ethnically and linguistically diverse. Over 90 percent of recent immigrants come from non-English speaking countries, and many of these immigrants arrive with little or no formal education. Minority groups also have higher birth rates, and many native-born ethnic group members do not speak English in the home. These immigration and birth patterns are contributing to the increase in the linguistic diversity of our public schools. This should be considered as a reason to better understand how to more effectively include these parents in school activities. Teachers are busy people, and establishing positive relationships with second language parents is a win-win situation for both parents and teachers. It is definitely worth the time and effort it takes. The authors of this article are primarily young teachers from schools with diverse student populations who encounter these critical issues of culture and language every day in their classrooms. This article provides some ideas for effectively increasing the participation of non-English speaking parents in the schools.



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