Monolingual school websites as barriers to parent engagement

Ingrid Piller*, Ana Sofia Bruzon, Hanna Torsh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This paper investigates the communication strategies of schools to engage linguistically diverse parents through enrollment information on their websites. The importance of the study is due to the known educational disadvantage experienced by migrant children as well as the known positive influence of parental engagement on educational achievement. Against this background, we ask whether English-speaking and non-English-speaking parents have equal opportunities to support the education of their children through accessible high-quality enrollment information provided by their local school. To this end, we analyze language choice, multilingual information architecture, and references to linguistic diversity on the websites of 30 highly linguistically diverse Australian primary schools. English was found to be the exclusive medium of communication, even in schools where up to 98% of students speak another language at home. Where automated translation options or hyperlinks to external translated information are available, these follow a monolingual logic and are listed by language names in English rather than targeting the specific languages of the school community. References to linguistic diversity are rare but serve to normalize monolingual practices while regulating and otherizing linguistic diversity. The study thus demonstrates that accessible enrollment information in languages other than English is virtually non-existent. We close with implications for more inclusive design and professional development to foster greater parental engagement in linguistically diverse societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-345
Number of pages18
JournalLanguage and Education
Volume37
Issue number3
Early online date6 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • home-school communication
  • inclusive design
  • monolingual habitus of multilingual schools
  • multilingual websites
  • parental engagement
  • school language management

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