Title of Product
Communication between the school and parents who do not speak French
Name of Author(s)
Alice Pierard - Union Francophone des Associations de Parents de l’Enseignement Catholique (UFAPEC) (French-speaking Union of parents associations in Catholic education)
Name of Producer
Union Francophone des Associations de Parents de l’Enseignement Catholique (UFAPEC) (French-speaking Union of parents associations in Catholic education)
Date of Production
Language of the review
Language of the product
Type of product
Integration of immigrants students
Description of Contents
Parents and school, both involved in children’s education, are bound to come across each other. They cannot avoid or ignore each other. In the best interest of the child, they have to set up a collaboration, a partnership.
But how can this communication be possible when they do not speak the same language:
• How to create a link between the school and families from an immigrant background?
• How to reach parents who do not speak the language of the school?
• How to make those parents able to take responsibilities in their children’s schooling?
• How to turn those parents in co-educators, participants of the school project?
Mutual lack of understanding and ignorance lead to misunderstandings and blunders.
Bringing down the language barrier is thus essential to the integration of immigrant students and their family.
The parents’ association UFAPEC supports and promotes actions developed by schools to ease communication and dialogue with immigrant parents.
In a document that summarises the problem it presents some recent initiatives.
Those initiatives favour direct contact with the parents and their active involvement in school life:
• A speech therapist working in a school with students of 27 different nationalities explains that most parents do not speak French (or not well). To overcome this difficulty, “moms act as interpreters” for others during communications with educational teams.
• A school near Brussels that welcome 25 different nationalities set up a “parents’ cafe” with an educator who speaks Arabic.
This place mainly gathers mothers and gives them the chance to talk about various topics such as homework, health, nutrition, adolescence... In this way, they can create links and get involved in the school. The school and parents can better know and understand each other.
• The Aide en Milieu Ouvert (AMO – Help in Open Setting) in Visé (town near Liège) develops a project “relay parents” in collaboration with the schools of the town.
There has been a large Turkish community since the years 60 which is continuously renewing through matrimonial immigration.
The AMO wants to create and experiment a welcome protocol for new immigrant children in which representatives of parents (the relay parents) would be involved. The project includes other aspects such as training long-time immigrant parents to act as intermediary between the school and newly-arrived families to guarantee a better communication between those two worlds.
• A school in Liège with many immigrants, in one of the most underprivileged neighbourhood, has set up a “collaboration with various organisations in the neighbourhood” (the community centre, after school helps and an organisation for young people’s professional integration) to help parents, support projects and create a dynamics with parents and students.
In this school, the language difficulty is dealt with by the “translation organisation”: interpreters, members of the educational team who know foreign languages or students called to help when parents are invited to the participation council.
Reading these initiatives, one understands the importance of understanding each other to improve communication and thus relations, that the language barrier must fall to foster a successful integration of immigrant students and their families.
Living together in a multicultural school is only possible through a strong partnership between school and families.
The initiatives are good practices that can inspire parents who want to get involved in school life as well as school managements in search of communication tools.
The document is available for free on the website.