As parents, we want to be involved in our child’s education. However, raising a Dual Language student presents a unique set of difficulties when you’re monolingual. Without knowing Spanish, it can be hard to help your kid with their schoolwork. With this in mind, I’ve put together a few tips for providing your kid some assistance - even if you don’t speak the language.
1 - Utilize Google Translate
For grades Kinder-4, Google Translate can be a lifesaver. If your child is stumped on a question, you can always go to https://translate.google.com/ for help. Just type in the word, and let google translate it for you.
After 4th grade or so, it becomes a little less helpful depending on your kid’s comprehension. It's a good starting place, though, and it can soften the frustration.
2 - Tag Team
Pair up with another Dual Language family. Whether it’s for homework or not, sharing this experience with another family can add to your child’s learning and save your sanity. If you're able to befriend a Spanish-speaking family, even better, but any Dual Language family would be great. While the kids interact, the parents can commiserate and bond.
Doing this is particularly great for the kids because it encourages them to speak the language casually. Remind them during play and study to speak only Spanish, and watch them learn from each other.
3 - Hire a Tutor
There are a wealth of options for hiring a private tutor. Online, through an agency, word of mouth, and more. Finding a solid tutor has never been easier. Ask parents of other Dual-Language students for recommendations, or see if you can find an online option if your schedule is tight. Regular tutoring will give your child the opportunity to learn one-on-one with a professional. Even better, see if you can find one that is willing to be on call. Often times, these tutors will charge by 5, 10, or 15 minute increments. That way you can call them whenever you need some homework help.
4 - Join a Facebook Parent Group
These groups have been vital to us. Not just for schoolwork, but in seeking advice, venting, laughing, and more. They are support networks for and by Dual Language parents. Facebook groups give us the space to ask questions, receive guidance, and talk about raising our multilingual children. There are so many parents like us out there, and if you’re having an issue, chances are, someone else has experienced something similar. Take the opportunity to connect with them on social media by joining a Facebook group for your school’s program and like our page here: https://www.facebook.com/duallanguagefamily/.
5 - Talk to Their Teacher
This is not as obvious as you may think. It’s very common for parents to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable reaching out to their child’s teacher. It’s important to remember that they are there for you too. Especially in Dual Language programs. They understand the unique parental position that this type of learning brings. They’ve been interacting with monolingual parents long enough to know how difficult it can be. Confide in the teacher about your challenges, work out a system for communication, and use it when applicable.
Although you may not be completely proficient in what your child is studying, there are so many ways to help your DLL make the most out of their education. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance when you need it. And who knows, you might see yourself learning right alongside your student.