The Parent/Teacher Conference

Another very delicate situation in which you might have to make requests diplomatically is in a parent/teacher conference. You're the teacher, teacher's aid, social worker, or principal at a school, and you are speaking with the parent of a child who is having a hard time in class. You'd like to get the parent more involved in helping the child with homework and discipline issues, but you cannot phrase these things directly. Think about how you might feel if a teacher told you bluntly to read more often to your child. You might be a lot more inclined to do so if the request is phrased like this: ¿Tiene usted tiempo de leer más con su hijo? (Do you have time to read more with your son?) or ¿Puede usted llevar a su hijo a la biblioteca para la hora de cuentos? (Can you take your son to the library for story time?). Let's start with a list of school-related vocabulary that might be useful in a parent/ teacher conference.

Subject Areas and Skills

  • la tarea (homework)

  • la lectura (reading)

  • la escritura (writing)

  • las matemáticas (math)

  • la ciencia (science)

  • las ciencias sociales (social sciences)

  • el arte (art)

  • la música (music)

  • los deportes (sports)

  • la geografía (geography)

  • la ortografía (spelling)

  • la comprensión (comprehension)

  • la retención (retention)

  • el enfoque (focus)

  • la atención (attention)

  • la habilidad (ability)

  • la aptitud (aptitude)

  • el conocimiento (knowledge)

  • las relaciones interpersonales (interpersonal relationships)

  • la disciplina (discipline)

  • el comportamiento (behavior)

  • las pruebas (tests)

  • las calificaciones (scores)

  • el entusiasmo (enthusiasm)

  • Verbs

  • estudiar (study)

  • enfocarse (focus)

  • retener, e > ie (retain)

  • comprender (understand)

  • comportarse (behave)

  • llevarse con (get along with)

  • aprender (learn)

  • repasar (review)

  • aprobar, o > ue (pass)

  • repetir, e > i (repeat)

  • sacar buenas/malas notas (make good/bad grades)

  • confundirse (get confused, make a mistake)

  • progresar (progress)

  • avanzar (advance)

  • adelantar (get ahead)

  • You'll want to use diplomacy when discussing children with their parents, especially if you need the parents' cooperation in resolving any problems. Review your tools: impersonal expressions with infinitives, polite requests with infinitives, and hay que followed by infinitives. Another strategy is to balance praise of a child's strengths with gentle suggestions for the improvement of their weaknesses.

    Polite Requests with Parents

    TRACK 45

    Listen to each polite request on Track 45 as you follow along in the text. Repeat each example after you hear it.

    Jaime comprende mucho, pero no siempre retiene las cosas bien.

    (Jaime understands a lot, but he doesn't always retain things well.)

    A Jaime le gusta mucho aprender. ¿Puede usted ayudarlo a repasar sus tareas?

    (Jaime really likes to learn. Can you help him review his homework?)

    Jaime es un niño bueno, pero a veces no se comporta muy bien. ¿Puede usted ayudarnos con la disciplina?

    (Jaime is a good boy, but he doesn't always behave well. Can you help us with discipline?)

    Hay que inspirar a Jaime a hacer más esfuerzo. ¿Tiene usted alguna recomendación?

    (Jaime has to be inspired to make more of an effort. Do you have any recommendations?)

    So now you have an idea of how to make your requests politely. Keep practicing and you'll soon be very adept at getting people to do what you want and making them feel good about it!

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