OFQUAL Consultation ESOL/EAL – UK

Do you want your say re qualifications for learners who speak English as a second, third language etc. OFQUAL will be consulting from next month until December, you can find the link below.

Consultation on ESOL regulations We will soon be launching a consultation on English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) qualifications and the regulations that govern them. It is our responsibility to ensure that qualifications are secure, fit for purpose and suitably meet the needs of a range of learners. We are looking at ESOL qualifications because their role has changed significantly in recent years to include immigration and right to reside in the UK impacts. The consultation is due to launch on our consultation platform in September and will run until December. The link is below.


Character #242: 父 father

How language transformed humanity : Mark Pagel

Biologist Mark Pagel shares an intriguing theory about why humans evolved our complex system of language. He suggests that language is a piece of “social technology” that allowed early human tribes to access a powerful new tool: cooperation.
How intriguing, just the opening few lines that suggest we use language to alter someone else’s brain. Great discussion topic.

It is true that we do use cumulative cultural evolution and we can see how things have developed over the years.
‘Social learning is visual theft’ if I watch you I can copy Mark suggests is the way we learnt but 2000 years ago we needed to develop a system of communication to share our ideas and language evolved to solve this crisis.

He says it is social technology for coordinating and striking deals. Language opened up the sphere of co-operation.

Is this how people feel when they move country like a bird without wings? until the language is learnt and they feel whole again and can communicate effectively?

He feels language is the most valuable trade we have for converting new lands and resources. Currently there are 7-8000 languages but the puzzle and irony is that the greatest number of languages is found where people are most tightly packed together. In Papua New Guinea there are 800-1000 distinct different languages and places where you can encounter a new language in under 1 mile. We use language to draw lines around our co-operative groups and to establish identities and to protect our knowledge and skills from eavesdroppers outside. Different languages slow the flow of ideas, technologies and genes. These languages are now a burden in today’s society because they impose a barrier co-operation like in the EU where their translation costs are over 1 billion euros annually on their 23 languages.

Does this mean that languages will eventually die or become extinct, and will it be the survival of the fittest?

If we need to maintain co-operation then maybe our destination is one world, with one language.

What does everyone else think?

K21st - Essential 21st Century Knowledge

Biologist Mark Pagel shares an intriguing theory about why humans evolved our complex system of language. He suggests that language is a piece of “social technology” that allowed early human tribes to access a powerful new tool: cooperation.

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Character #244: 期 A year or period of time

A year or a period of time is todays chinese character and stroke order animation.

來學正體字 Learn Traditional Chinese Characters

The character 期 has two pronunciations. [ㄐㄧ] means a year. [ㄑㄧˊ] means a period of time. Here is the stroke order animation. Here are the individual strokes for writing the character. Here is the evolution of 期.

期[ㄑㄧˊ]間[ㄐㄧㄢ] – time, duration

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Bilingual programmes are helping students achieve a greater proficiency in reading and maths, perhaps UK schools should take note with the new inspection orders in place.

Jesus Santos, director of bilingual-multicultural education for MPS, said the research showed that the district’s bilingual programs are helping students achieve at a greater proficiency level in reading and math.

As the new school year approaches in the UK OFSTED have issued their guidance to inspectors which will come into effect on 1st September. One of the biggest challenges will be for schools to achieve success with their learners with English as an Additional Language (EAL or ESOL) learners.  These Dual langauge learners (DLL) will wish to keep their first language and build on it to gain their second. This creates a problem for monolingual teachers or those who feel less confident with teaching another language.

I can see that this is going to be the challenge as OFSTED clearly states that they will be looking at children who have the pupil premium attached to them, and also those who need support together with those designated EAL. The challenge will therefore be to get the learner as quickly as possible to the same level as their non-EAL equivalent, as anything between that will be scrutinised.

We can all be assured and reassured from the comments above by Jesus Santos that if we embrace the learners first language and use it as a stepping stone where appropriate, then the children learn and catch up quicker, particularly with reading and maths which is clearly another huge focus for the Inspectors.

Schools need to be looking for resources that with their innovative ways reassure and  give confidence to the teacher whilst celebrating and empowering the learner. A big ask but I am sure it can be done.

To read the new inspectors handbook in which I have highlighted with any mention specifically to EAL children go to our website  http://languagesupportuk.com/What%2527s-Good-.php Very worryingly is that  this group of children can alert inspectors and by my reading of the judgements you are better reading from the bottom up and checking that you fulfil the criteria for not achieving special measures or serious weaknesses otherwise you may find yourself at risk.

If you would like to read more about Francesca Lopez who has been through the school system right through to doctorate and researched her beliefs you can do so here  http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/educator-turns-rough-start-into-bilingual-mission-jo6k7ip-167495545.html  or read the read the story below.

Francesca Lopez vividly remembers starting school in El Paso, Texas, in the third grade.

She hated it.

Though she and her family lived in El Paso, she and her mom, like many others at the time, crossed the border to Juarez, Mexico, back and forth every day for school. Her mother taught high school, and she attended grade school.Then in the third grade her Mexican-born mother and American-born father decided she should go to public school. It’s an experience vividly etched in her memory.

“It was traumatic. I was very alone. I didn’t speak English very well, so I daydreamed. I wasn’t a very good student. I hated it,” she says while sitting in the living room of her Wauwatosa home.

But in the fifth grade it was announced that a new pilot program for gifted and talented students was starting. Everyone had to take the nonverbal intelligence test.To her surprise, and that of many classmates, she got in.That changed her life. And it set her on a lifelong educational path of teaching, counseling and researching the subject dear to her heart – bilingual education, testing, student achievement and how teachers teach students learning English.

Now 38, with a doctoral degree, she’s an assistant professor in the department of educational policy and leadership at Marquette University. She teaches courses on children and adolescents in a diverse society. She also researches language acquisition, teaching practices and the development of language, and the development of ethnic identity among Hispanic youths.

She also looks at the issues of testing, assessment and the outcomes of bilingual education programs vs. English immersion programs.Lopez still smiles broadly when she talks about how a test changed her own trajectory.

“That (fifth grade) test gave me an incredible boost,” she says. “I remember how I felt. It was like a ticket to a brand-new life, a new school, a new identity. I became an A student,” she says adding that by that time she was fluent in English.

Her new school emphasized literature and English, science and math. Her science project on right- and left-handedness – it used statistics she had learned in class – was chosen for the citywide science fair. The exposure to higher-level math and stronger academics propelled her. She attended an all-girls Catholic high school with many who, like her, were from Spanish-speaking homes but where much was expected.

Those early years, she says, taught her the importance of perception, self-confidence, motivation and what you can do if you believe in yourself, especially for bilingual students.

“If you believe you can do something, you can,” she says. “Whereas, if you don’t even believe you can do it, you might not even try.”

After college she began teaching in a third-grade bilingual class, then became a counselor. She received a master’s in counseling from the University of Texas at El Paso.When her husband’s job transferred him to Tucson, Ariz., she stayed home for a time with her young children and then pursued a doctorate in educational psychology at the University of Arizona. When she looked for a job, all the offers came from Midwest colleges and universities.

“In the Southwest everyone is bilingual, but in the Midwest you’re wanted and you feel needed because of the shifting demographics and growth of Latino and Spanish-speaking populations,” she says.

Last year she studied developmental and bilingual programs at 13 Milwaukee Public Schools.

Sometimes in dual-language programs where the classroom has equal numbers of English- and Spanish-dominant students, “there’s the potential for marginalizing Latino students, but I didn’t see that,” she says. “I found excellent teaching strategies.”

She adds, though, that teachers volunteered to be part of the study, so that might have skewed the overall picture.

Jesus Santos, director of bilingual-multicultural education for MPS, said the research showed that the district’s bilingual programs are helping students achieve at a greater proficiency level in reading and math.

“But we also learned that we need to continually provide professional development for teachers so we can continue to improve achievement,” he says. “Better teachers also understand the background of the students, and if they do they are more successful in teaching.”

That’s especially important for new bilingual teachers, whom the district is constantly recruiting, he says.

This school year, working with the Greater Milwaukee Catholic Education Consortium, Lopez will do research at several largely Latino Catholic elementary schools. The consortium comprises the five Catholic colleges and universities in the area and provides resources and research to Catholic K-12 schools.

Lopez said she will look at linking teacher behavior to student identity and student achievement and how it can grow.

With the growth of the Latino population and Spanish-speaking students, teachers need the skills to effectively work with the complexities of students from a different culture who speak another language, says Jennifer Maney, the coordinator of the consortium.

“We’re doing our best to keep up with the need,” Maney says, “so that we can improve student achievement and make good schools better


Maori bilingual school wins in national sign language competition

Such a heart warming story.  Learners in a Maori school win a national sign langauge competition

“We do lots of trilingual stuff all the time. They speak in English, we speak in Maori and they sign.


The year 0 to year 6 Maori bilingual unit at Te Korowai o te Aroha was definitely the best in its age bracket and was the best in the North Island.

A Christchurch intermediate school won the first AUT StarSign sign language competition during national sign language week at the beginning of August but senior teacher Robin Taua-Gordon and teacher aide Khrystal Morunga say they are pleased for their kids who competed against high school students for the prize.

“We’re successful here, not in spite of where we are, but ‘because of’, you know,” Ms Taua-Gordon says. “We expect excellence in everything we do.”

The AUT competition saw schools signing the national anthem and fitted in well with the unit’s methodology.

“We do lots of trilingual stuff all the time. They speak in English, we speak in Maori and they sign.

“If you ask any child in our whanau how many official languages there are in our country, they’ll all answer three.”

The unit does have a deaf child and she says when students are signing it helps to reinforce what they’re learning in Maori.

All of the teachers helped the students to sign. And she says the students ability to sign is a benefit. The five to 11-year-olds all sign throughout their day’s education.

Te Korowai o te Aroha’s entry was recorded around the school.

Ms Taua-Gordon says that while she was editing the video, overlaying the soundtrack, they realised that they’d signed too slowly for the suggested version of the anthem.

“So I found a Dennis Marsh and it was in English and Maori and we whacked that on as a backing track,” she says. “Lots of our families like him.”

She says all she was really expecting from the video was a little bit of recognition.

And that the competition really spoke to the unit’s emphasis on inclusivity.

The school has been operating as a trilingual unit for nearly two years as they’ve strived to ensure that all their students are able to participate in the class.

“No matter what shape, size, colour, anything, we like to think all the kids know that they’re all special,” Ms Morunga says.

Character #239: 清[ㄑㄧㄥ]平[ㄆㄧㄥˊ] – peace and tranquility 清[ㄑㄧㄥ]早[ㄗㄠˇ] – early morning

清[ㄑㄧㄥ]平[ㄆㄧㄥˊ] – peace and tranquility 清[ㄑㄧㄥ]早[ㄗㄠˇ] – early morning
I love the peace and tranquility of early mornings particularly on the beach. Here are the Chinese Characters and stroke order animation.

來學正體字 Learn Traditional Chinese Characters

The character 清[ㄑㄧㄥ] means pure and clear. Here is the stroke order animation and pronunciation. Here are the individual strokes for writing the character. Here is the evolution of 清.

清[ㄑㄧㄥ]冷[ㄌㄥˇ] – chilly; desolate
清[ㄑㄧㄥ]平[ㄆㄧㄥˊ] – peace and tranquility
清[ㄑㄧㄥ]早[ㄗㄠˇ] – early morning

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Gwent spend the equivalent of 31 officers wages on translation services

If Gwent are a small force and they are facing these costs how many police stations have other forces lost or not employed? Clearly they need to communicate with their suspects and need to find which are guilty to get them off our streets, but maybe they need to look at more innovative ways of talking to their suspects.  I asked John what he thought about this.

‘Maybe a change of thinking and giving the desk sergeants and beat officers the skills to talk to these suspects like using relatively cheap, yet effective hand-held devices and when there is access to a computer, Talking Tutor or Two Can Talk. With these the police officer only needs to speak English as it will translate and speak aloud in  many languages’ says EMASUK’s founder John Foxwell

‘Or’ said John Foxwell ‘by using the text translator create documents in Polish, Lithuanian, Romanian, Czech, Vietnamese, Turkish, Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, Slovak, Albanian, Spanish, Latvian, Cantonese, French, Hungarian, Nepalese, German, Hindi, Italian, Portuguese, Tamil and Welsh, every day of the year, 24 hours a day instant access. This would allow innocent people to be released carefully,and speedier enrollment of suspects’.

If you are interested on finding out more you can contact John at j.foxwell@emasuk.com


GWENT Police spent more than £700,000 on translators over the past six years.

The force needed to employ translators for dozens of different languages in this time, including Welsh, and spent a total of £717,493.

Translators are brought in to talk to suspects in crimes, as well as witnesses and victims.

In 2006/07, the force spent £75,225 on translators; this more than doubled the following year to £160,899 and peaked in 2008/09 at £172,247.

In November 2009, the Wales Interpretation and Translation Service (WITS) was set up, supported by the Welsh Government, other Welsh police forces and councils.

WITS finds bilingual people close to where they are needed, carries out security checks, language assessments and training and helped reduce costs to the police.

Languages translated in this time were Polish, Lithuanian, Bengali, Urdu, Romanian, Punjabi Indian, Czech, British Sign Language, Vietnamese, Kurdish Sorani, Punjabi Pakistani, Turkish, Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, Slovak, Albanian, Spanish, Sylheti, Pashto, Latvian, Cantonese, Farsi, French, Hungarian, Nepalese, Swaheli, Algerian, Dari, German, Gujerati, Hindi, Italian, Krio, Malayalam, Portuguese, Somali, Tagalog, Tamil, Tigrinyan and Welsh

In 2009/10, the amount spent fell to £127,796, £83,529 before the introduction of WITS and £44,267 after, this fell to £95,348 in 2010/11 and £85,978 in 2011/12.

Between 2009 and 2011, Gwent Police paid a fixed rate of £36 an hour to translators.

Chief Inspector Tony Wilcox said: “All Police Forces have to comply with legal requirements to provide investigations in a language which people can understand. Without quality interpreters it  would be impossible to conduct investigations involving victims, witnesses or offenders whose first language is not English or Welsh.”

As well as languages one might expect translators to be needed for, such as Polish, French and Spanish, there was call for languages including Sylheti, spoken in North East Bangladesh, Krio, from  Sierra Leone, Tagalog, spoken by people in the Philippines, and Tigrinyan, which is spoken by people in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The force said it only kept a record of the list of languages it used translators for in 2010/11, when 41 translators were needed for 41 different languages

Are colleges getting too big and forgetting their learners?

As I drove past one of our local secondary schools today I could see that the hoarding had been taken down leaving what looked like a huge community rather than a school. I started thinking that in a week or so children aged 11 will be moving from their previous welcoming primary school  to this huge building that feels harsh, scary and over powering.

I began questioning in my mind whether some schools (many now called colleges) are too much about business and profit and if they have forgotten that main priority should be learning and their pupils. Apart from selling these students how lovely to have a new building etc, do they actually think how these young people feel.

What does everyone else think?