Supporting and engaging EL families

Welcoming families of ELs, especially at the primary level, is an integral to ensuring the child’s success in the coming year.

I teach ESL in a small K-6 district in New Jersey which has been recongized by the New Jersey Department of Education Bilingual Office as a Model District for Kindergarten. Most of the families I work with come from Korea, Japan, China, The Philippines, India and Russia. A smaller number of families come from Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Israel, Taiwan and different countries that change every year.

In order to welcome and continuously support our families, here are some of the things we do:

Back to School Night/ELL Parent Evening – we come into the  general education classrooms where the classroom teachers introduce us and the program – We then invite our parents to come to the ELL Parent Evening which is held the first week of October.

Parent Workshops to discuss social customs and other cultural in the US

ESL Literacy Workshop to demonstrate reading comprehension strategies and how we use concepts of print

Informational Workshops to show and explain the mandated ESL testing and expectations

Score Report Workshops to explain the results of the test

Lunar New Year Celebration

Reading and Writing Celebrations

End of Year Picnic

Another way to involve parents and their children in “conversations” is to have a blog – here is the link to my website and parent/child blog – I share photos of places I visit that they never have a chance to see and use the blog as an opportunity to practice English as well as to have meaningful conversations in their home language by posing questions that require critical thinking skills.

The most amazing and validating way to show them your support is by reaching out to them as you learn about their cultures, some basic phrases in their languages and demonstrate your deep appreciation of where they come from.

I am thrilled to share that I will be learning about the culture of my largest group of ELs by spending time in their country this fall. As a Fulbright Distinguished Teaching Award Recipient, I will be living in Seoul, South Korea doing research, visiting and collaborating with schools and universities. My Korean families are incredibly supportive and involved in this experience that I call “our experience”. It is an honor to be in their culture and country and become a KSL or Korean as a Second Language Learner. You are most welcome to follow us on this journey by posting comments on

Monica Schnee


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