College of Education & Human Services

Lesson 3: Home/School Connections

Communicating with Interpreters and Translators

An inexpensive training video that we use is Conversations for Three: Communicating ThroughInterpreters by Chen, Chen and Brekken (2000).

What do I need to communicate with students and their parents through interpreters and translators?

  1. Districts have a legal obligation to communicate with parents. This may include providing interpreters and translating documents.

  2. Schools should make every effort to use qualified and trained interpreters. * Please do not use untrained custodians, lunchroom workers or parent volunteers. Minor siblings should never be used as interpreters.

  3. All interpreters must have a signed confidentiality agreement on file in the school office. Click here to download a sample confidentiality agreement. PDF | WORD

  4. Interpreter guidelines and procedures should be established by the principal/teacher at the beginning of meetings utilizing interpreters. 

    1. Participants will look at each other, not the interpreter.

    2. Interpreters will interpret everything that is said.

    3. Interpreters should try to use first person pronouns.

    4. Interpreters will not have sidebar conversations and are not there to answer questions or give advice.

    5. Stress confidentiality for all participants by reviewing the terms of the confidentiality agreement. Review that the agreement includes not only confidentiality for students and their families, but also for staff members and other participants.

Resources for Working with Parents

    • Have the meeting at a time when many parents can attend. I like to have parent meetings on Sunday afternoons.

    • Provide skilled interpreters.

    • Provide babysitting for younger children.

    • Choose locations that are accessible and non-threatening to parents.

    • Make sure that transportation is available.

    • Have food.


    The following resources will assist when working with ELL students and their families. Many parents of ELL students also need more English Language classes. Providing family literacy activities or classes is an excellent way to involve parents in their children’s education and help them acquire new skills. When planning parent meetings or events, please keep the following in mind:



Click HERE to view a video with tips for parent meetings.



Digital Divides and Solutions to Student Achievement



Some students may never have used a computer before and others may have written programs. It can be helpful to survey students’ tech background and current capabilities at the time of registration. It’s advisable to have resources available to ELLs that may not have access to technology at home. ELLs have a wide range of computer/technology knowledge.




Click HERE to view Video 1:

    Examples of Thinking Outside of the Box… Community Partnerships for Technology.




Click HERE to view Video 2:

    Examples of Thinking Outside of the Box… Community Partnerships for Technology.