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Pros: Automatic translation. Excellent user support.
Cons: Grammatical and spelling errors might affect translation.
Bottom Line: Easy-to-use tool for supporting communication and engagement with families in 100+ languages.
Use TalkingPoints to inform families about student progress without worrying about language barriers. Send messages, photos, videos, and documents of daily classroom activities to promote positive learning experiences. Invite parents to volunteer or become involved in classroom activities with open communication. Take a poll to gain valuable information about event dates, conference times, or class parties. Make all families feel welcomed and valued by communicating effectively. Be mindful of using this tool to communicate with families about any negative behaviors. Be sure to ask parents about their preferred language communication, and realize that messages and tone may not be translated the way you intend.
Although the app interface is clean, the initial setup on the desktop is recommended for ease of use. Teachers have the option of adding users manually, via a spreadsheet, or with a class code. Families also have options to receive messages through SMS or the mobile app. Printable instructions are available to be sent home with students.
TalkingPoints is a messaging app that allows teachers to communicate in families' home languages via their phones or internet-connected devices. Teachers can add recipients by creating a spreadsheet that includes name, student's name, phone number, and home language. Teachers must have accounts tied to email addresses, but parent or guardian participation is voluntary, and parents can opt out at any time. Families have the option to receive messages via SMS or mobile app. Once a teacher sets up the initial list, TalkingPoints will use an app-generated phone number to send an introductory message to each family explaining the purpose of the tool. From there, teachers can schedule or immediately send messages in their language, and families will automatically receive it in their home language. Parents can type responses in their home language, and teachers will receive a translated version with an option to receive notifications. There's also an option to send video messages with closed captioning in the recipients' language.
Teachers can send messages to individuals, a group, or a class. Photos and videos are also possible to include. When sharing texts, the background color can be changed. Polls can also be easily conducted, allowing families to share information. Setup is intuitive, but there's also a help chat option and a resources page of FAQs.
TalkingPoints allows teachers to communicate with and get feedback from families without worrying about a potential language barrier. This can be especially helpful for younger students, who may not be able to effectively communicate, or for older students who fail to share events and deadlines with their parents. TalkingPoints also lets teachers create polls, allowing valuable feedback on any number of classroom-related issues. Teachers can use this information to plan events or upcoming classroom activities. Because it allows teachers to invite families who might otherwise feel excluded to participate in the conversation, it's a positive move toward welcoming families into the classroom. Like any tool that uses machine translation, it's bound to send text messages with errors. Ultimately, though, it's a critical tool for building home-school connection.