Aug 31 2009
Communication. Comunicación. Koh-moo-nee-kah-see-OWN. No relationship can thrive without clear and respectful interchange, especially between parents and teachers. Why is this concept so widely accepted but the implementation often so difficult?
There are enough challenges facing educators called upon to tell parents how their child is doing. Add to this challenge the lack of a common language and the anxiety level increases dramatically. With the growing number of English language learners in early nationwide, many educators are struggling with how to bridge the communication gap with parents from Spanish-speaking cultures.
Some suggest that the sole remedy is to become fluent in Spanish before the next parent-teacher conference. Others recommend grabbing the first person they see who knows some Spanish. What’s missing from both discussions is how cultural norms affect interpersonal communication.
It would be great if we were all multilingual. But it takes a long time to learn a language. Whether or not one pursues language study or not, the underlying recipe for success is to learn more about Hispanic cultures, which allows individuals to communicate in a way increases the chance of getting a response. Communicating through words without the appropriate cultural context is one of the main reasons why the memos sent home aren’t effective, even though they’re translated into Spanish. Words detached from their cultural context are sometimes meaningless.
A good starting point is to discover the difference between the notion of “well educated” in modern-day culture vs. “bien educado” in Hispanic culture. You’ll better understand that there’s more to communication than just language. Learn more by reading about The Cultural Umbrella at http://www.bentiva.com/Cultural_Umbrella.html.