Having a committed cohort of students and parents is critical to any dual language (DL) program. But how do you go about recruiting families? How do you ensure all families in the community have access to your program? Providing the right information at the right time is key to equitable student recruitment.
As a district or school, there are many practical things you can do to ensure a well-balanced cohort of DL students and be a welcoming place for families with different backgrounds.
Choose a program model based on your student population
First, look at the student population of your school or district. Your DL program should reflect these demographics. The program model you choose will be based on your student population.
If your school or district has a larger population of English language learners, the 50/50 program model might be best. This allows English speakers and target language speakers to practice their new language equally. It also creates more opportunities for peer learning.
If your student population speaks mostly English as their first language, a 90/10 program model might be better. In this model, students are exposed to the target language more during the school day. For more in-depth information about program models, download our dual language brochure.
Advertise your program to the community
Once you have decided on a model, it’s time to start telling your community about the program. One of the most effective ways to do this is distributing flyers to places like daycares and pre-K centers. You should also share information at places of worship, grocery stores, pediatrician offices, etc.
Be sure that any flyers are in multiple languages so that all parents can access the information.
Social media is another powerful tool for your school or district. Use different platforms to introduce your program and any upcoming events. Videos or testimonials demonstrating the benefits of dual language immersion are also helpful. Make sure your school and district websites includes program information in English and the partner language. This way, you can start educating parents before you even hold any events.
Provide equitable access to information
Once the program is advertised, you can begin having parent information nights or school fairs. At all events, make sure public transportation is running before and after the event time so that more families can attend.
If your district has a fair for program choices, you might have a booth along with the other schools in your district. At your booth it will be important to educate parents about DL, and have teachers there to talk about the program.
To ensure more access to parent nights at your school, give in-person and virtual options. Participate Learning partner schools have also successfully offered drive-through events. Parents can still receive information and register their child for kindergarten from their car.
You will want to include the following in a parent information night:
- An explanation of the program model and why it was chosen
- The differences between dual language immersion and traditional language learning
- The benefits of a DL education. This includes enhanced cognitive development, being bilingual and biliterate, and higher achievement on standardized tests.
- Introduce the teachers who will be part of the program
- An example of the daily schedule in a DL program
- Parent testimonials about the program and how it has benefited their child(ren)
- Help with kindergarten registration at the event
To see examples of these types of materials, explore Participate Learning’s DL recruitment materials.
Make your front office welcoming
It is also critical to have a knowledgeable front office staff person to help parents with registration. This person should be able to answer basic questions about the DL program. Ideally, they can also talk with parents in their native language. This will ensure all families feel welcome and comfortable as they are enrolling their child.
All these steps ensure your community is represented well in your DL program. Setting the right expectations and providing information to parents will make your program successful in the first year and far beyond. With support and resources, you can build a thriving program where all students are welcomed and accepted.
Learn more about the support Participate Learning offers schools and districts here.