Did you know that Hmong is a verbal language? Few can read written Hmong, and because pitches and inflections differentiate meaning, tools such as Google Translate are wholly ineffective. For Tanglen’s Hmong students and families (most of whom have chosen distance learning) and the 15 teachers who need to communicate with them, the systemic communication barriers Hmong families have always experienced have become more evident during the pandemic. This $5,000 grant will compensate interpreter Panou Xiong for up to ten additional hours per week for the rest of the school year, and five hours per week during the ten weeks of summer. These hours will help build bridges to post-pandemic student success.
Panou is already an invaluable team member who has established positive relationships with Hmong families but her current contract with the district – just 10 hours per week – is not nearly adequate for the needed volume of teacher-generated classroom and school information on a weekly basis. As students learn from home, families must have access to key learning concepts, student learning expectations, parent resources, and district communications. Due to communication difficulties during the pandemic, including the reliance of students to translate for parents, there have been significant attendance issues among this valued 10% of Tanglen’s population. Panou will work with teachers during Google Meets, and also record verbal communications that will be emailed to parents.
Part of this strategy is to figure out the best way to continue communication with Hmong families going forward, and to use these ideas as springboards to inclusivity to any marginalized communities in the future. These families’ voices deserve to be heard, empowered and respected; their students deserve the opportunity to thrive.
Submitter: Sara Vanhove