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ELL Families and Schools


The relationship between English Language Learners families and the schools is very important and builds strong cordial bridges that enhance students learning and proficiency in the language. Teachers emphasize parents to give their children positive messages or acts of kindness in supporting their efforts to understanding a new language in an environment associated with diverse multi-cultural backgrounds at school. Building bridges from home to school is crucial for an EL student where the relationship between teachers and parents is viewed more of an alliance and partnership with the goal of the important work of guiding, raising and teaching the children.

Relationship between ELL Families and Schools

As pointed out the relationship between English Learners families and schools plays a major role in the students overall performance. However, more often than not, teachers and parents usually have estranged feelings that result from suspicions from both sides which can consequently lead to adversaries or competition rather than efforts of empathy and collaboration (Reyes, 2001). Although teachers have little to go on to build and train for successful relationships between the children’s parents, their approach or encounter with the parents during the enrollment processes and first day of school can have a profound effect on both the parents and their children in the outlook and experience of the school and leaning simultaneously. Tensions between parents and teachers are inevitable compounded by the different functions and roles both play in the student’s life. Teachers and parents have different point of views and attachments in which both must seek support and alliances in the students’ learning.

Teachers have the major task of balancing the capacities and needs of individual students in the classroom support in development initiatives in which children have to learn accountability and being responsible in the class community groups. This social-cultural influence on ELLs between school and teacher relationship is part of the larger social-cultural influences that affect them in a myriad ways and how they interact with each other. Children are raised in various dominant cultures in which they understand expectations of different behaviors at schools or other social situations. Family traditions, attitudes toward education, discipline styles, and prejudices vary significantly. ELL students have to cope with many changes particularly in a new country, school, and home or how their families deal with the new environment. Example, families wanting to assimilate the American way and stop practicing their traditions will create more stress for the ELL students coupled with struggles at learning a new language and social expectations of peers and teachers.

 Bilingualism and home language use is another aspect integrated in the efforts of families adapting to new environments can sometimes conflict with each other (Valdéz, 1996). Many educational institutions have the inaccurate or underlying perceptions and assumptions that the diverse cultural or linguistic students have language disadvantages in intellectual and social resources deficiencies in school based knowledge that they bring from home to school. This often leads to lowered academic expectations from teachers to these students. Bilingualism refers to addition or acquisition of another language, in this case English, apart from the native or first language. The home language use in effect influences English learning in maintenance of cognitive aspects in bilingualism, skills in the different languages in the leaning process by the ELL students. Students may fail in school for a number of reasons and in some of the cases academic difficulties that may be attributed in the learning and teaching environment. ELL students may have limited or no access to efficient English or bilingual instructions and other problems stemming from cultural or linguistic differences.

Balancing of the home language use English then becomes a hard task for theses students. Teachers need to modify instructions given to these students over time in order to address their specific needs. The need to be given proper intervention or else the students will be left to struggle with widening achievement gaps between them and their peers. Specialized instructions can be given to students with specific learning disabilities after assessment has been done in cultural or linguistic assessment in relevant education (Yates, 1998). Improving ELL students’ academic performance will entail meeting their needs in general education to prevent school failure and ensure students achieve their potential in academics. In this respect teachers must have a shared knowledge base with their students, recognizing the native language of ELLs, building a collaborative community to school relationship, and effective instruction and intervention for ELLs.

 Parental and community resources for English acquisition can be drawn the local library network or from classroom practice that has been enriched, transformed or developed based on the existing funds of knowledge in different households with minority ELL students. This fund of knowledge has been developed from accumulated strategies that include abilities, practices, skills and ideas that are essential for a household’s well being and functioning (Moll, 1992). Teachers and researchers have become aware of this aspect and adopted the traditional method of making home visits where the parent and the teacher can discuss the ELL’s student particular problem and provide suggestions to aid the students’ area of difficulties. The main purpose is to document and identify existing knowledge. The funds of knowledge sources are diverse and abundant and entailailing trade, finance, business, construction, farming or animal husbandry. Moreover, this fund of knowledge enhances teachers’ practice as reflective practitioners and learners, and funds of knowledge being a transformative principle.

 School and home partnerships with ELL families can be improved through cordial relationships between teachers and parents where they form a strategic alliance and partners in addressing the ELL students’ weakness and difficulties in learning proficiency (Cummins, 1994). The aspect in funds of knowledge where teachers make home visits to discuss with parents concerning their children’s’ performance, is an efficient strategy which also builds strong cohesion and bridges between the school and parents. Collaborative community to school relationships is a crucial aspect which will improve the school efforts in being involved with community and families of English learners in understanding the different cultural, social and linguistic contexts in which the students are raised in.


Early intervention for ELL students in learning process is an important role for teachers to better support the students in teaching and instructions methods with consideration of the diverse linguistic or diverse students’ backgrounds tailored to meet their needs. Anticipated outcomes should be communicated to students in order to yield better results. Consideration of relationship in socio-cultural aspects, link between teachers, school and parents and community is important. Resources and collaborative efforts between the community and school should also be enhanced.


Cummins (1994). Knowledge, power, and identity in teaching English as a second language: Educating second language children. Cambridge, England: CambridgeUniversity Press.

Moll, L., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (1992). Funds of Knowledge for Teaching: Using a Qualitative Approach to Connect Homes and Classrooms. Theory into Practice.

Genzuk, M. (1999). Tapping into community funds of knowledge: In Effective strategies for English language acquisition. Annenberg Metropolitan Foundation. Los Angeles.

Retrieved March 1, 2010, from ARCO Funds of Knowlegde.pdf

Reyes, M. & Halcón, J. (Eds.). (2001). The Best for Our Children: Critical Perspectives on Literacy for Latino Students. New York: Teachers College, ColumbiaUniversity.

Valdéz, G., & Figueroa, R.A. (1996). Bilingualism and testing: A special case of bias.Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Yates, J. R., & Ortiz, A. (1998). Issues of culture and diversity affecting educators with disabilities: A Change in demography is reshaping America. In R. J. Anderson, C. E


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