In the fractions of seconds it took my English-starved brain to process words like “Césarienne,” Dr. Martin had already spewed 15 more. This was a conversation I desperately needed to understand.

The new article really sets the scene from the patients point of view when dealing with medical issues. It also bears out our research at a Coventry hospital gynecological and maternity unit where patients found Clairetalk to be invaluable.

Using an interpreter can be an issue when the interpreter is male, when we are doing intimate examinations or discussing sensitive issues. The women can be less forth coming with information. NHS staff feedback re Clairetalk

The patient in this article clearly cites incidences where she feels the experience could have been improved but also where Education embracing bilingualism could also support more children in schools.

Six years ago this week I was sitting naked in a doctor’s examining chair, nine months pregnant and attempting to understand what my French-speaking OB-GYN was talking about.

It was an unsettling experience indeed, the naked and enormously nine-month-pregnant part, since it was a rude awakening to learn that the French don’t seem to care that those flimsy paper coverups exist. After spending half of my pregnancy and giving birth to my first child in France, and thus spending an exorbitant amount of time naked on examining tables, I vowed I would never take disposable exam gowns for granted again.

My modesty aside, the experience was most disquieting due to the fact that French words were rattling like pinballs inside my head. In the fractions of seconds it took my English-starved brain to process words like “Césarienne,” Dr. Martin had already spewed 15 more that I didn’t have the time or mental fortitude to translate. And this was a conversation I desperately needed to understand.

Two weeks before my due date, I sat in that chair as my already frazzled language-learning synapses grasped frantically at every four or fifth word I could comprehend. Painstakingly, after many sheepish requests that he “Parlez plus lentement, s’il vous plait” (speak slower, please), I was able to stack together enough of the puzzle to understand what he was telling me.

(Dr. Martin spoke one word of English: naked. So the beginning of the appointment had gone well. He pointed at me and commanded, “Naked!” so that’s what I did. It went downhill from there. Dr. Martin made it clear that he found it utterly annoying that an American woman would come to France and need her doctor to speak English. Some things, I discovered during our winter in France, need no translation.)

My “accouchement” (birth) would be “anormal” (abnormal) because the baby soon to be  known as Elodie was “au siege” (breech), and I would need to plan for a “Césarienne,” (C-section.) It would be next week, on Fevrier 22, merci et au revoir!

It was certainly my choice to put myself in the uncomfortable position of being giant-bellied and stark naked in a country where I spoke the language as well as a native 2-year-old. So I took the mental battering as well as I could, considering our circumstances, and now that I look back, I’m more grateful than ever that Craig and I were naïve enough to think that having a baby in France would be “pas de problem.”

I have a beautiful daughter with a French name and birth certificate, and, in addition, a much more acute appreciation of the need for learning a second language.

Last month, the Telluride School District’s Global Fluency Committee gave a presentation on incorporating bilingual education into the elementary school curriculum. More than half of the world’s population (65 percent) are bilingual or multilingual. Young children learn languages easily, and learning another language has been shown to enhance a child’s proficiency in his or her native tongue, we learned.

While in France, I noticed that nearly everyone in Tignes, the ski resort where we lived for a season, on Ski Patrol exchange, spoke at least enough English to get by. Nearly half of that resort’s visitors come from English-speaking countries, so speaking English is just a part of doing business. I also observed, with much awe, that the children in the Tignes preschool were already being given lessons in English.

As it turns out, France isn’t the only place where non-native languages are quickly gaining traction.

School-age children who speak a language other than English at home are one of the fastest-growing populations in the United States, studies suggest. Their numbers doubled between 1980 and 2009, and now comprise 21 percent of school-age kids.

There were 4.7 million students classified as “English language learners” – those who have not yet achieved proficiency in English – in the 2009-10 school year, or about 10 percent of children enrolled, according to the most recent figures available from the U.S. Department of Education.

Bilingual education has long been a hot-button issue in America, raising issues like immigration and civil rights. California, Massachusetts and Arizona have actually banned bilingual education, claiming that it hinders, rather than helps, students who lack proficiency in English.

Thus far, much of the bilingual-education debate has centered around whether or not bringing  non-English speakers to English proficiency is the duty of the public school system, and if so, how can it best be done. Statistics show that many schools’ non-English speakers actually fare worse in standardized tests when educated under a bilingual system.

Yet proponents of bilingual education counter that the schools boasting the highest percentages of non-English speakers, which offer some form of bilingual education, are usually located in the lowest-income school districts and thus face an array of roadblocks to offering quality education overall, including large class size and insufficiently trained teachers.

The bilingual education debate isn’t new. In response to a growing outcry that non-English-speaking students weren’t getting an equal education due to a dearth of teachers and programs promoting multilingual studies, Congress passed the Bilingual Education Act in 1968. Later, the National Advisory Council on Bilingual Education was formed to articulate a plan for a national policy in bilingual education.

In the language of the federal law: “Where inability to speak and understand the English language excludes national origin minority group children from effective participation in the educational program offered by a school district, the district must take affirmative steps to rectify the language deficiency in order to open its instructional program to these students.”

Yet a part of the debate that seems to be emerging more recently centers around the idea that bilingual education can benefit students other than those who don’t speak English. English-speaking students, when educated early under a truly bilingual program (in which 50 percent of class time is spent speaking English and 50 percent speaking another language, like the system TSD’s Global Fluency Committee has proposed,) have been shown to excel in their native language as well as a second language. As bilingual graduates, they enter a growingly diverse world job market better prepared. And though studies can’t prove it, I’m willing to bet that on average, citizens who speak another language would have a healthier respect and understanding of other cultures.

Let’s end the debate and start seeing the world, and our children’s place in it, for what it really is: Culturally and linguistically diverse. Let’s raise our children with not just a healthy respect for other cultures and languages, but with a solid comprehension of those cultures and languages. And that means educating them early in the languages of other cultures.

I heartily applaud the Telluride School District’s Global Fluency Committee’s forward-thinking approach to closing the multilingualism gap that currently exists between American students and the rest of the world. Let’s raise up all of our community’s students, by offering them the chance to speak the all-inclusive language of cultural acceptance.

What do you think? I am sure our doctors dont have the same attitude as the patients doctor all I have met want to support their patients the best way possible.

For Health providers if you want more information about Clairetalk go to the website and choose Healthcare

For education if you want more information about Talking Tutor, Text Tutor and our award winning two can Talk again choose and choose Education.

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UK is not a place where bilingual ability is valued says the Guardian

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.

Who knows next time we may feature!

Congratulations Gladstone Primary School

Congratulations to one of our member schools Gladstone Primary.


Delighted pupils and staff at a Peterborough primary school are celebrating after a good Ofsted report – 14 months after being rated as inadequate


Such great news to hear. We are very pleased to be in the background supporting all of their hard work and being one of the resources used by teachers to support and develop their children’s language learning.

Equally pleasing is seeing the head teacher talk about the benefits of supporting a bilingual education which is the start of the educational culture change which so many schools with our support are now embracing.


Head Christine Parker, 54, said: ‘More and more  of the world is  going bilingual. The culture at our school is not to see  bilingualism as  a difficulty.’

Today thanks to the summers improved SATS results where schools are achieving level 4 for all children including their EAL cohort, and these continuing stories of improved results the knowledge of how to use a child’s bilingualism to develop their English literacy and academic language faster hopefully will ensure this tide will continue to turn.

Many Schools all around the UK are now made up of children with a wider variety of languages as their first language and this schools list of spoken languages is not dissimilar to what you could find in any other UK town. Languages at Gladstone include

358 of the 440 pupils were raised speaking Punjabi Urdu, according to Department for Education figures.  Another 23 are fluent in Dari, which  is used  in Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan. There are 15 Lithuanians  and 11 Latvians,  while other languages include Portuguese, Polish,  Slovakian, Czech, Gujarati,  Russian, German, Pashto, French, Arabic and  four African dialects

For us this is great news as from this list we can support the school with Urdu, Lithuanian, Latvian, Portuguese, Polish, Slovakian, Czech, Gujarati, German, French and Arabic with our low cost  systems that teachers and members of the school community can access 24/7. Giving them and our other member schools the support they need when they need it.


To read these articles in more depth


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2050 – What will the Education system look like?

John and myself were invited to the Education summit this year but sadly we had to turn the invitation down. That did not stop us though and after watching it being streamed I felt that it would be interesting to share the vision of what Education could look like in the not too distant future.

YouTube have captured Sir Michael Barber discussing his views on Education at the recent UKTI Education summit looking forward to 2050 and the 9 billion children who need to be educated and suggests how the education system may look not only in the UK but globally. We are often talking about global citizenship particularly as many of our children have seen many parts of the world, and in most cases have also been educated elsewhere in the world, so the more understanding that we have of their world, the easier it is to help them in ours.

Michael Barber discusses this by arguing that education is now discussed globally rather than at country level and every child must have Knowledge (Know what and Know how), have the ability to think (think slowly refelectively, creatively etc) to be citizens of the world. Some need to be good leaders L= leadership people who can influence decisions and shape decisons in school, family and workplace. Finally he says this is all wrapped up in E = ethical underpinning and we need a shared understanding of basic ethics of peoele living in great cities and getting on with people from different countries.


At 6.01 – he discusses his views on Global trends and reforms where he shares a list of nine characteristics of greater eduction systems, and says distinctly that Maths doesn’t change at national borders.  If we say they are good at Maths in London they should also be the same in Tokyo, Songapore and New York etc. Every child should be part of the agenda. We have said this for the past decade and used bilingualism as the bridge between the first and the second language so that the knowledge can be transfered quickly.  Equally this is why our first books that we created were the Maths and the primary resource book which takes everyday things that the new arrivals need to support both them and their teachers through those first few weeks.

Sir Michael Barbers Opportunities for learning innovation

At 7.36 he talks about the false dichotomies and suggests that we need all not just one or the other, and shows a list of these. He then discusses public via private and admits it is hard to innovate in government yet companies can so the relationship needs to be sorted out. We find it is not as easy as he says as schools often have a concern about companies, particularly after last weeks Panorama report, but I think he is right there must be a balance between the two.

11-07 he talks about the learning day and it will be at different times and different settings and possibly I think via different media. With that always comes assessment how do we know what they have learnt.  He suggests that with assessment we need to  think about the best cumputer games and the ways we simulate training airline pilots and this will give us an idea of the new types of models of assessment that could be available.

With all this food for thought EMASUK is hoping that the resources will support communication for all entrants into the country and also support our teachers with the tools necessary to make Every child a part of the new global Education system.

See the discussion at: