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Welcoming English Language Learners and Their Families

Crista Burrel, Leslie Koschmann, Sue Rowse

How do we welcome English Language Learners and their families into our community? What makes people from different cultures feel welcome? How can we make changes to be more welcoming at Fairgrounds Middle School?

We engaged in action research to answer this question and then developed research-based suggestions to the administration for changes we can make to be more welcoming to English Language learners and their families. We visited several places in the community including hospitals, community centers, markets and churches. The common “welcoming” elements in each were languages other than English in written format in windows and on walls, employees who either spoke Spanish or who greeted us with welcoming body language such as smiles, open arms and questions. Each place met a specific need like food, health care, education, employment.

We brainstormed several ideas and will be presenting them to our assistant principal next week with hopes of implementing them in the fall. We decided to try to increase attendance at open house by making the experience more welcoming. We hope to have all students create an invitation for their parents or caregivers to open house. Students may write in their primary language. We will present to the faculty, giving them the background information about our project and all of the supplies and instructions needed to create these invitations with students in homeroom.

Upon arrival at open house, parents will find signs in a variety of languages and will be met by bilingual greeters, either parents or students, for help with directions and to have questions answered. This link to our power point presentation provides more information about our research and proposal.


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