Get to the HEART of it
Home language is an asset
Explain to parents that they should feel comfortable speaking to their children in the language they feel most confident in and it is their choice as to which language they use. Explain the benefits of maintaing the first language and how the skills learnt in one language can transfer to the second language. Many parent sfeel that the school wants them to speak English at home and some parents use their limited English to communicate with their child, leading to somewhat limited conversations, rather than engaging in rich dialogue with their child in their home language. Whilst you may think that parents know the schools view on this it is worth making it explicit each year to reinforce the concept and remind parents of this value. A newsletter or notice on the parents board can be effective ways of making this explicit. Parents may also need help with a range of ways that they can use the home language to help their pupil complete tasks in English (such as discussing the story first in lhome langugage and then in English).
Entertainment can be harnessed for learning
Encourage parents to use the form of entertainment that the children are currently engaged in to be rich sources of communication. If pupils have hobbies or sports then reading, writing about or discussing these can be interesting for the child as well as perfect areas to practice ceratain skills (e.g reading about the lives of famous cricketers in their hometowns on a map, calculating how many wins they've had in three seasons etc).
Audio stories provide good model of 'book' English
Listening to audio CDs can be a valuable way of engaging children in texts above their current reading age. Audio stories can also help parents learn English and can be something the parent and child do together. In an average busy school day children don’t spend a lot of time listening to quality 'book language' so audio CDs can increase the time that pupils spend listening to a clear model of English.
Real-life situations provide rich learning opportunities
Parents may think that only an' expert/ can teach their children. Show that there is a lot that parents can do whilst carrying out day to day activities.
Talk about the value of talk!
Due to experiences in other education systems parents may be biased towards reading and writing as forms of homework and undervalue speaking and listening. A workshop about the value of speaking and listening can help get parents onboard with the power of talk-based home learning. There are numerous talk activities that can be perfect for home learning such as barrier games, debating a point, carrying out a survey of family members views on something, interviewing a family member / character, even discussing a tv programme )predicting the ending, discussing 'good'/'bad' characters etc).