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Planning Ahead for Language Access at Your School

Many schools are becoming more diverse, both culturally and ethically. As a result, it has become vital to have language access plans to eliminate the communications challenges among the students and teachers.

Schools in California, for instance, have large language diversity. The schools need to keep parents informed of the school's progress, and similarly, the parents need to know what's happening- irrespective of their language differences.

Thankfully, a language access plan can be applied to nearly all types of school communication, from school notices to report cards. So don't worry if you plan to enroll in more non-English speaking students in the academic year 2021-2022. We got you sorted! Read on to know more about language access plans and how you can create one!

What Is A Language Access Plan, And Why Is It Important?

A Language Access Plan (LAP) is a document that spells out how an institution will provide services to non-English speakers or people with limited English proficiency. LAP examples may include the use of signage, taglines, or translation services to get rid of language barriers.

Schools can use unique language access plans to meet their goals and the demands of their students. Here are the main benefits of having a solid language access plan:

It's a Law Requirement

Nearly 1 in every five people in the United States speaks another language other than English, which results in significant language differences in schools. 

In 2015, the U.S Department for Justice and Education highlighted the main responsibilities for school districts in a bid to get rid of these barriers. Here are the main takeaways from the law:

  • Schools must communicate with the parents in a language they understand
  • Schools must provide language assistance programs to Limited English Proficient(LEP) parents even when the children are proficient
  • Schools must use competent translation resources

Schools which create a language access plan stay compliant with the law, thus, avoid legal issues.

It Engages Parents in their Children Learning

Many parents want to be part of what their children learn at school. Unfortunately, language barriers can prevent them from doing so. Often, non-English speaking parents feel powerless and frustrated for not being able to help their children learn the most basic learning levels.

An excellent language access plan allows parents to stay engaged in their children's learning programs. It also motivates the students to learn more and meet the curriculum requirements with ease.

It Contributes To the Success of the Students

The role of the teachers is to provide students with essential concepts that they will apply for the rest of their lives. But when the children don't understand their teachers well, it becomes hard for them to apply the knowledge, leave alone passing the exams.

By having excellent translation services and other LAP plans, limited english proficient (LEP) students can easily catch up with their classwork and become more successful.

It Encourages More Interactions

By embracing language access services such as on-site translating or document translating, schools encourage interactions among everyone. Parents get the impression that the schools care for them, while the students feel loved. In the long run, parents feel more inclined to the schools, further boosting the school's reputation.

A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Set Up a Language Access Plan

Each school has unique needs, depending on its goals. Here is a general step by step guide that schools in California can follow to set up a language access plan:

1. Research and Identify Your Needs

Determine the needs of the students or parents. Which languages do they speak? Are they non-English speakers or do they have a limited understanding of the language? Do they understand signage? Is there a preferred method of communication?

As you start, you may need to do a little research to know your audience better. You may brainstorm with your team for the best results. After analyzing your audience (the parents, students, or even other teachers), you may set goals that you need to achieve. 

You can also set a budget for the resources that you will need for the plan. Also, it might be necessary to determine the legal accreditation requirements from the state. This is the most critical step; hence, you should take your time for the best results.

2. Inform the Stakeholders

A language access plan is a significant implementation that requires the involvement of the stakeholders. Executive stakeholders can give you the support and some of the resources you need to develop the plan and promote compliance. 

3. Build a Team

At this point, you already have the plan and the support. You now need to build a solid cross-departmental team for the implementation. You can choose the person who will manage the budget, track progress, provide feedback, and so on.

4. Choose the Language Access Provider

The next vital step is to find a reputable language access provider who will provide the following services:

  • On-site interpreting
  • Telephone interpreting
  • Video remote interpreting
  • Document translation

As a rule of thumb, you should choose a friendly provider who is conversant with translation services in schools. By so doing, you can be sure that you are outsourcing the best service for the sake of your school.

5. Formalize and Implement

Nothing can stop you from formalizing your LAP now. You can write down all the things that you want to formalize into a document. You can then create some time to educate your staff about it, distribute it and create more awareness.

6. Monitor Progress

Like with any other institutional implementation, you need to keep an eye on your LAP to know the progress. How is everyone responding? What's the feedback? 

Many negative remarks can be a red sign that something is wrong, and you must change it. You might need to change your language access plan every year, depending on your goals and the audience you are trying to reach.

Wrap- up

Schools are more than learning centers. They are also community centers that require proper communication and interactions. By utilizing the past document translations or on-site translation services, schools can bring both students and families together and achieve much more together. 

At Language Network, we look toward a future where everyone in the school will have the same experience no matter the language they speak. Fill out our contact us page to schedule a meeting to discuss your school district's specific needs and develop a plan.


About Language Network

Language Network is a language solutions company specializing in interpretation, translation, and localization services for government, healthcare, and international businesses. Language Network provides critical language access and support in over 200 languages. For more information, visit www.languagenetworkusa.com.

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