Linguistic and Community Barriers can Hinder Parental Involvement for English Language Learning Students
Scholarly literature, “Exploration of ELL Parent Involvement Measured by Epstein’s Overlapping Spheres of Influence” (Walker, 2017) and “School Counselors as Social Justice Leaders: An Innovative School–Family–Community Partnership With Latino Students and Families” (Betters-Bubon and Schultz, 2018) examine the benefits to English Language Learner (ELL) children when their parents are involved in their communities and education.
Under current educational structures, “many ELLs enter U.S. schools lacking the educational skills that are typically acquired by non-ELL students before the onset of formal education” (Walker, 2017, p. 7-8). Thus, parental involvement is particularly essential for ELL students, who need additional support to do well in a system that is not designed for them to thrive. However, the educational setbacks faced by ELL students are in part due to the educational and linguistic barriers their own parents faced: “parents whose native languages are not English are not likely to attend school meetings or school events and are the least likely to volunteer in schools”(Walker, 2017, p. 10) as many schools have yet “to develop culturally inclusive forums for parents and schools to connect with one another”(Betters-Bubon and Schultz, 2018, p. 1). The exclusion of ELL parents hurts ELL students who already face disadvantages.
However, once community spaces that are linguistically accessible and actively encouraged are created, ELL parental involvement increases dramatically: after introducing a homework club that “moved beyond homework help to include systemic interventions to affect the achievement gap” for ELL students that focused on parental involvement, “communication increased between parents of our ELL bilingual students and teachers” (Betters-Bubon and Schultz, 2018, p. 6; Betters-Bubon and Schultz, 2018, p. 5). The study highlights that it is not for lack of want that ELL parents do not participate in their children’s education, rather a linguistic barrier made more difficult by a sense of omission by the school’s community. Once these barriers are eliminated, parents can take a more active role in their child’s education to the benefit of everyone involved.
The positive implications of parental involvement in a child’s education are endless. It is difficult for students, especially ones who are systematically disadvantaged to begin with, to succeed when they have neither external support from parents, nor internal understanding from schools. Connecting ELL parents to schools through community partnerships is an important step to helping ELL students succeed.
Walker, S. A. (2017). Exploration of ELL Parent Involvement Measured by Epstein’s Overlapping Spheres of Influence. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.bowdoin.edu/docview/1938253621?pq-origsite=summon
Betters-Bubon, J. J., Schultz, J. W. (2017). School Counselors as Social Justice Leaders: An Innovative School–Family–Community Partnership With Latino Students and Families. Professional School Counseling. Retrieved from https://journals-sagepub-com.ezproxy.bowdoin.edu/doi/10.1177/2156759X18773601?icid=int.sj-related-articles.similar-articles.27#articleCitationDownloadContainer