I was very interested in last weeks Education Guardians language week. Mainly because I was looking for inspiration but there doesn’t seem to be much particularly around the value of bilingualism and supporting teachers to teach their pupils who are bilingual. It also seems that teachers are too entrenched in things that were not hugely successful in the past yet they just repeat the process without changing their thinking and integrating tools to support them.
As Rosemary Campbell Stevens says if what we have been doing for the last twenty years hasn’t worked, then we need to change the rhetoric or my favourite by Albert Einstein ‘ We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them’.
Perhaps the report is right when it says:
That the UK is not a place where bilingual ability is valued is demonstrated again in the attitude to the tens of thousands children who do arrive at school with abilities in another language, he observes.
“The potential for children to reach high levels of competence in these languages is not recognised or supported by government – in the new national curriculum, there is no mention of bilingual learners who have the opportunity to learn languages at home and no plan for how these languages could be shared in the classroom.” In a country which has attracted migrants from across the world, this means that in two or three generations, children with migrant heritage grow up to be monolingual, or only conversationally functional in the language spoken by their parents or grandparents.
It also seems to me that there is a lot of store set on academics but not on what happens in classrooms where policy and strategy have to be interpreted with the children that you have in front of you. It is also interesting to note that during our existence academics have started to shift more towards bilingualism as they see that when used effectively bilingual learning supports and moves the child’s learning on. Perhaps this is prompted by real results and where previously our members, our teachers, school and classrooms were ignored as they can now see that this is where real change is happening the tide is turning.
Schools employing this new ethos are seeing results daily on real children in their classrooms, this includes the learners learning academic English quicker by up to 70% or to achieving 100% level 4 SATS, but lets not also forget that these teachers are feeling confident that they can actually help. Despite all this it also saddens me to see all this innovative and exceptional work recorded in this article as:
But apart from a few scattered initiatives – Interesting we are not even mentioned yet we were the first to go down this route. http://www.guardian.co.uk/teacher-network/2013/may/13/languages-uk-schools
Who knows next time we may feature!