French, German and Spanish classes

If you are interested in French German or Spanish here are some classes with an overview of their focus.

AIM Danışmanlık | Consulting

Everytime, I decide to learn a language and I feel I can really learn it. However, after one or two attempts, I assure myselft that I cannot do it without a language course… You know, if you’re already working somewhere and you have tens of other things to do, going to a couse every weekend is kind of hard. First 2-3 weeks are good but then you just can’t manage all the work… So, I found a great collection of website that teach a language online… 

I will try them one by one, so if you also try, please leave a comment so that we just don’t lose any more time! 🙂

Here are the list for French, German & Spanish. You can click the link at the bottom to see other languages.

 

French

  1. BBC Languages French. Beginners and intermediate French students can find a wealth of lessons…

View original post 835 more words

Some interpreters are refusing to work alone, insisting they need two interpreters on hand.

I believe in justice and fairness but maybe this is taking it a little too far, and for it to halt court proceedings, never mind the costs of the time when having to start and restart a trial, but all the costs of having two translators when they are not needed. It’s also a little suspect that only the Spanish interpreters need two.  What does everyone else think?

http://www.myfoxboston.com/story/20131534/2012/11/18/court-interpreters-working-in-pairs-halt-court-proceedings

Being Bilingual gives me a chance to keep my identity.

An interesting news item about bilingualism.

Manny Bernal immigrated to El Paso from Chihuahua at the age of 12.  He describes school then as “horrible,” because he didn’t speak any English.  He says he was an “outcast.”  But after his freshman year, he entered the bilingual program at his high school.  He says, “It gives me a chance to keep my identity.  It’s like a comfort zone.  It’s like a place where you know you won’t get harassed.  Where you’re just safe.”

I am sure many of us would not have attributed safety and a comfort zone to students when discussing bilingual education but clearly for this student that is what it achieves. I think we all recognise that it helps to preserve self-respect, keep the persons identity and for this reason we promote the use of bilingualism where it is possible and practical.

I would also agree with their teacher when he says …

…bilingual education isn’t just about learning in two languages.  “I see that students with a bilingual education have become stronger by learning about two different cultures.  It’s a great accumulation of knowledge and understanding.  They’re not just learning from one culture, but from two.”

We are often brought into the literacy debate and as this suggests

Critics of dual language programs say that students who speak other languages should focus on English, since English proficiency is the key to academic success.

Yet studies show that when children develop speaking, reading, and writing abilities in their first languages, they’re better able to learn English.

The difficulty we have as non speakers of the other language is how do we achieve this in our school and in our class.

Many teachers no matter where we live in the world experience these things keeping up literacy whilst developing the child and at the other spectrum make sure they pass the expected examinations.  It’s all a complicated juggling trick but at the very least we must remember when making policy it is about the child.

Finally as the world gets smaller, languages are getting lost none more so than in the region that this news article came from and if we want to keep languages then they must be used.

New Mexico’s history means bilingual Spanish-English programs appeal to an array of families: Anglo, immigrant, and Hispanic.  David Rogers is the executive director of the nonprofit Dual Language Education New Mexico.  He says, “there’s an excitement around it, especially for traditional New Mexican families, who have lost their heritage language over the years and want to bring that back.”

And it’s not just Spanish language programs that are growing.  Eight Native languages are spoken in New Mexico, and some tribes have turned to bilingual programs as a way to preserve their linguistic and cultural heritage.

 

Read the whole story at http://kunm.org/post/bilingual-education-may-help-shrink-achievement-gap-hispanic-students

ICT for Supporting and Developing Writing Skills of EAL Pupils

Just some ideas of ways of using ICT to support literacy.

EAL pupils at all levels need support in attempting independent written tasks. They can be helped by:

* prior modelling of the type of text they are going to produce

* oral rehearsal of what they are going to write

* providing phrases and sentence beginnings, to support the child’s lexicon vocabulary and grammar as well as how sentences and language is structured

* Provide writing frames, to support writing development and knowledge of the correct genre format.

* giving them access to word and, or picture banks to reinforce and extend their vocabulary whilst supporting correct spelling

Speech Translation Technology moves forward

Going back a few years John talked about being able to talk to people from all different languages like in Star Trek. At the time it seemed so far fetched that most thought it was not a possibility, and often their lack of foresight hindered his vision. He wanted to be able to speak in English yet the people to understand in their home language. As teachers this would be so invaluable when we have new arrivals to our classrooms.  We haven’t time to wait for an interpreter or translator to arrive, most schools do not have the finances to have a qualified teacher who is also a native speaker so cheaper and simple solutions are sought daily as people move around globally more now than ever.

It is really good to see that Microsoft are nearer to this goal than ever before.  The good stuff it at around 7.05 where he speaks in English and out comes Chinese

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Nu-nlQqFCKg

As Dr. Rashid’s post explains in detail, this demo is less of a breakthrough than an evolutionary step, representing a new version of a long-established combination of three gradually-improving technologies: Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Machine Translation (MT), and speech synthesis (no appropriate standard acronym, though TTS for “text to speech” is close).

In 1986, when the money from the privatization of NTT was used to found the Advanced Telecommunication Research (ATR) Institute in Japan, the centerpiece of ATR’s prospectus was the Interpreting Telephony Laboratory. As explained in Tsuyoshi Morimoto, “Automatic Interpreting Telephone Research at ATR“, Proceedings of a Workshop on Machine Translation, 1990:

An automatic telephone interpretation system will transform a spoken dialogue from the speaker’s language  to the listener’s  automatically  and simultaneously. It will undoubtedly be used to overcome language barriers and facilitate communication among the people of the world.

ATR Interpreting Telephony Research project was started in 1986. The objective is to promote basic research for developing an automatic telephone interpreting system. The project period is seven-years.

As of 1986, all of the constituent technologies had been in development for 25 or 30 years. But none of them were really ready for general use in an unrestricted conversational setting, and so the premise of the ATR Interpreting Telephony Laboratory was basically a public-relations device for framing on-going speech technology research, not a plausible R&D project. And so it’s not surprising that the ATR Interpreting Telephony Laboratory completed its seven-year term without producing practical technology — though quite a bit of valuable and interesting speech technology research was accomplished, including important contributions to the type of speech synthesis algorithm used in the Microsoft demo.

In the 26 years since 1986, there have been two crucial changes: Moore’s Law has made computers bigger and faster but smaller and cheaper; and speech recognition, machine translation, and speech synthesis have all gotten gradually better.  In both the domain of devices and the domain of algorithms, the developments have been evolutionary rather than revolutionary — the reaction of a well-informed researcher from the late 1980s, transplanted to 2012, would be satisfaction and admiration at the clever ways that familiar devices and algorithms have been improved, not baffled amazement at completely unexpected inventions.

All of the constituent technologies — ASR, MT, speech synthesis — have improved to the point where we all encounter them in everyday life, and some people use them all the time. I’m not sure whether Interpreting Telephony’s time has finally come, but it’s clearly close.

In any case, the folks at Microsoft Research are at or near the leading edge in pushing forward all of the constituent technologies for speech-to-speech translation, and Rashid’s speech-to-speech demo is an excellent way to publicise that fact.

Sharing ideas for multicultural classrooms.

This week the Guardian Teacher Network has this from EAL teachers around the UK.

Teaching in multicultural classrooms: tips, challenges and opportunities

What does a range of nationalities in class bring to the teaching and learning experience? A collection of teachers give us a glimpse into their multicultural classrooms

Rachel Coombe, subject leader beliefs, philosophy and ethics (BPE), The Voyager Academy, Peterborough

Peterborough is a very interesting city with a population of second, third and even fourth settled generations of Italian and Asian communities. In recent years, because of a variety of reasons, the city has had an enormous influx of mainly eastern European migrants, and because our school has the space they are joining us; at the rate, at the moment of about 25 students a week. We have 40% EAL (English as an additional language) students at the moment.

I have Roma, Hungarian, Czech, Lithuanian, Slovakian, Russian, African Portuguese, Afghan, British and Asian students (I’m sure I’ve probably missed some!) in my classes. We have a department of support teachers who assess the students when they arrive and we are in the process of setting up a series of induction classes from every subject so that the students get an idea of what goes in school. We then give the students another similar (age/nationality/gender and so on) student to shadow for a few days and then the students are placed into classes. We feel that they will learn English best if they are immersed in the language; however, we are aware of possible issues (such as war trauma) so we are sensitive about how we deal with each student.

We have a number of adult translators in school, and on occasions, where necessary, we do use students [to translate] but we try not to as that’s not why they’re in school. We also have a number of teachers who are interested in EAL, of which I am one, and we try to support others when they are not sure how to manage when sometimes the class is made up of predominantly EAL students.

As we teach we try to use a lot of visuals, a lot of student discussion, translated key words, sentence/writing frames and so on to help those EAL students. We also have started having outside of school hours time for families to come in to understand about how the education system works. We had a Roma day last year, as an example. It is a challenge but it can also be enriching for the other students. Some come with incredible talents, such as one particular Roma student who can play the piano and violin extremely beautifully just by listening to a piece of music and then copying it.

Jess Hamer, science teacher at Lampton School in Hounslow

Lampton is a ‘complex urban’ academy in west London. The school is non-selective and its pupils, who come from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, fall below the national average both in terms of ability and socio-economic circumstance. Three quarters speak English as an additional language. However, student achievement is above average and the school has been deemed outstanding in challenging circumstances by Ofsted.

I wouldn’t  use the word “manage” – it’s great to have such a diverse range of nationalities and cultures as students bring their different backgrounds and experiences to the classroom. As a school we celebrate many different festivals from around the world and there is a real sense of understanding between students, more celebrations = more fun! It’s reassuring and heart-warming to see that the prejudices that exist in the adult world are virtually non-existent in the classroom.

Sometimes it can be a challenge to teach students with EAL even with support in the classroom. I’ve had some very amusing “conversations” with students. Once I was trying to explain what a rabbit is and I ended up having to act out a rabbit by jumping along with my hands upright on my head pretending to be ears! The student thought it was hilarious but understood. Having pictures prepared really helps.

I’m also a year 12 form tutor and guiding students who may be the first generation from their family to apply to university is really rewarding. Sometimes these students need additional support through the process as their families have no prior experience to draw from. Role models are really important for students, seeing scientists from a range of backgrounds raises their aspirations. We regularly host events and have visitors or Stem ambassadors giving lectures or taking part in career speed networking events. I’ve travelled a fair bit and it really helps my awareness of places and cultures that students talk about. Having conversations and showing understanding really helps build relationships in the classroom. Many teachers at Lampton have had specific EAL training, myself included. I found it to be really useful as it helped me develop strategies for scaffolding language for students and it also taught me to ensure that my lessons are visual and that provide opportunities for students to practice their English.

Raising literacy standards is a big issue for many schools, schools with a high proportion of students with EAL is particularly important. At Lampton we’ve had a big push on academic literacy, and I’m part of the working group. Each department is implementing strategies for developing subject-specific literacy. In science, we’re focusing on the process of reading information and then distilling it to scaffold a succinct paragraph of writing. With my year 7 class we’re reading the Horrible Science books and then writing a review.

Teaching students from many cultures is no different to teaching in a school with a single culture – with the exception being having to pay additional attention to language/literacy.

 

Christopher Waugh, secondary English teacher, London Nautical School

 

I’m a 41 year old English teacher from New Zealand. I’ve worked as a teacher for 10 years, the most recent three of which in London. The schools in New Zealand that I worked for had much less of a cultural mix than the one I work in now but New Zealand operates strong bicultural practices in relation to the indigenous people, so my experience there has been of great use in my teaching here, and allows a unique perspective. ( I’m also an other-national in the classroom)

The range of nationalities in my room is an asset. The differing use of language is something we study and examine, their differing cultural perspectives provide a dynamic and vivid forum for debate and the need for mutual respect adds to the general dignity of the environment. The cultural diversity of my classes also creates an imperative not to make assumptions about religion, culture and values that creates room for many other firms of difference. I benefit from this uniquely as a gay teacher as my ‘difference’ is just another dimension in the wider melting pot.

Being aware of language acquisition processes is vital. Understanding that someone from another language culture with a south London accent who communicates confidently with his peers does not necessarily have access to the same range of formal language devices as someone who comes from an English-language culture.

I find offering opportunities for students to communicate with each other about their culture, origins and background as part of the learning programme (presentations, debates, writing and reading) is a very effective method of demonstrating respect for cultural diversity as well as making the most of the richness of what it offers.

I also find that asking students and their parents for their advice and input is valuable learning for me. Don’t be afraid of asking about students’ nationality and having them take the lead on embracing the multinational classroom.

 

Mark Hughes, teacher, Christchurch Primary School in Ilford

 

I’ve worked in a variety of classes over my 12 years teaching, all with a high majority of religions, cultures and languages spoken. Christchurch has a high majority of Muslim students (when I started it was 85% but now it is 68%) we also have a high number of Eastern European and children from Asian backgrounds.

Generally most of the children I teach have English as an additional language and can converse and work quite well in English. As a school we ‘set’ children in ability levels for English work. We do projects such as language of the month, British week, Eid/Diwali/Christmas concerts as well and look for opportunities in lessons to promote different cultures.

When I first started teaching a lot of the customs and cultures of the different children were all new to me, however I’ve come to embrace them and educate myself about the childrens lives outside of school (tends to help with the teaching side if you know a bit  about what goes on at home!)

The different faiths and religions within the school and my class do allow for some great topics and discussions based on tolerance and respect. My wife works in a very middle class/non multicultural school in Hertfordshire and doesn’t get the opportunities cropping up as much. We also have a take part in a global curriculum project about what it means to be a good citizen of the world. Looking at topics around the world – wars/tsunamis/child labour/respect/tolerance/historical influences on cultures and so on – all relevant to the chosen year group

I think you need to be open about how little you know; be curious; learn some words and customs, and most importantly show an interest in them.

 

Holly Miles, foundation teacher, Larkrise Primary

 

I work at Larkrise Primary – a large multicultural primary school in a deprived area. Being a foundation teacher, the majority of children arrive every September with no English.

The first term is always very quiet as children often are unable to communicate verbally especially if no one speaks their language. I use a lot of visual resources, props for storytelling and so on, and try to keep language very simple. These children do pick up the language very quickly and I hope that by July most will have acquired enough English to communicate with me and their peers.

We try to include all cultural celebrations throughout the year Eid, Diwali, Chinese new year and so on. The lovely thing about teaching this age is children are still very naive to differences in nationality and religion and so are very accepting to all.

Since teaching I have learnt a lot about cultural practices and I think the best way for new teachers to learn is to speak to parents and support staff about their cultures and find out through first hand experiences. As a nursery teacher I did home visits for all children in my class which really helped to give me an insight into where children are coming from.

Revision Guide

Revision is always at the front of our minds when exams are looming but generally loses its way as those exams seem further and further away. I wonder whether if revising earlier with more time between would help memory retrieval on the day.  This can only get more important now as more exams change from being modular to one shot on the day and that’s that.

This blog by David Cox is really interesting and challenges some of the tried and tested ways  of old and makes we think maybe we need to teach our children a different way to revise. Not only that it scientifically all makes sense.

A neuroscience student harnesses his knowledge to advise fellow students about memorising information

Here are some excerpts…

How does it work? Information is transmitted by brain cells called neurons. When you learn something new, a group of neurons activate in a part of the brain called the hippocampus. It’s like a pattern of light bulbs turning on.

Your hippocampus is forced to store many new patterns every day. This increases hugely when you are revising. Provided with the right trigger, the hippocampus should be able to retrieve any pattern. But if it keeps getting new information, the overworked brain might go wrong. That’s what happens when you think you’ve committed a new fact to memory, only to find 15 minutes later that it’s disappeared again

and his seven suggestions

Forget about initial letters

Teachers often urge students to make up mnemonics – sentences based on the initial letters of items you’re trying to remember. Trouble is, they help you remember the order, but not the names.

Repeat yourself

Pathways between neurons can be strengthened over time. Simple repetition – practising retrieving a memory over and over again – is the best form of consolidating the pattern.

Use science to help you retrieve info

Science tells us the ideal time to revise what you’ve learned is just before you’re about to forget it. And because memories get stronger the more you retrieve them, you should wait exponentially longer each time – after a few minutes, then a few hours, then a day, then a few days. This technique is known as spaced repetition.

This also explains why you forget things so quickly after a week of cramming for an exam. Because the exponential curve of memory retrieval does not continue, the process reverses and within a few weeks, you have forgotten everything.

Take regular breaks

Breaks are important to minimise interference. When your hippocampus is forced to store many new (and often similar) patterns in a short space of time, it can get them jumbled up.

The best example of this is when you get a new telephone number. Your old number is still so well-entrenched in your memory that remembering the new one is a nightmare. It’s even worse if the new one has a few similarities to the old.

Plan your revision so you can take breaks and revise what you’ve just learned before moving on to anything new.

Avoid distractions

Attention is the key to memorising. By choosing to focus on something, you give it a personal meaning that makes it easier to remember. In fact, most of our problems when it comes to revision have very little to do with the brain’s capacity for remembering things; we just struggle to devote our full attention to the task in hand.

Playing music while revising will make your task harder, because any speech-like sounds, even at low volume, will automatically use up part of the brain’s attention capacity.

Sleep is vital

We spend approximately a third of our lives sleeping and it’s never as important as during revision time. Sleep plays a critical role in memory consolidation – this is when the brain backs up short-term patterns and creates long-term memories. The process is believed to occur during deep sleep, when the hippocampal neurons pass the patterns of activity to another part of the brain called the neocortex, which is responsible for language and the generation of motor commands.

Recent research in Nature Neuroscience has shed new light on how memories are decluttered and irrelevant information is deleted during this process. This results in the important memories (the pathways that have been strengthened through repetition) becoming easier to access.

Control your emotions

We remember emotionally charged events far better than others, and this is especially the case if the emotion was a positive one. It is not always possible to have warm feelings about your revision, but if you can associate a particular fact with a visual, auditory or emotional experience from the past, then you have a better chance of remembering it, as you have created multiple pathways for retrieval.

Try to reduce anxiety, because it uses up working memory, leaving a much smaller capacity available for processing and encoding new information.

 

Strategies to support students with language learning needs.

Strategies to support students with language learning needs.

There are three types of children at our school with Additional Language Needs:

  1. New arrivals with no English
  2. Arrivals with various levels of English.  These will need to be able to catch up with their peers and once there will have the ability to communicate in both languages particularly if the first language is used as a bridge to the second particularly in relation to academic language.
  3. Students for whom English is their first language but have difficulty in language acquisition.

Here are some suggestions to help.

  1. Use a language mentor someone who has a good model of language themselves.  If EAL learners they can also be encouraged if of a similar language to keep their 1st language alive.
  2. When planning think about the words that the learner will need to engage in the lessons, actively pre-teach these words.
  3. Remember that each word needs to be taught and applied more than once usually around 5 times before it becomes known. Increase usage of these words until they become embedded.
  4. Never teach a word by itself, if taught in context and with visual or aural aids these will help remembrance and contextual use.
  5. Academic words used frequently in Exams need to be actively taught. EMASUK has a GCSE book that:
    1. Contextualises the words
    2. Gives examples of the words in exam settings
    3. Gives real exam sentences to practice
    4. Use prior knowledge and learning when introducing new ideas. One way to do this is via mind mapping or by video capturing a conversation where the children answer questions that draw out their knowledge. (NB the teacher needs to give the questions as a starting point). Specifically for EAL children you can use Two can Talk where the mentor or buddy can ask questions in English, have it translated into their peers language. The peer then answers via the keyboard in their first language and it speaks aloud in English. This can be captured via the PDF icon so that as a teacher you have a record of their discussion.
    5. Learn how to say the learners name properly.
    6. If you cannot understand them then ask them to repeat it, if necessarily ask in a different way.
    7. Make sentences short and clear. Sentences with too many parts of it will confuse, some students will not know which part to complete.
    8. Allow the student time to answer and don’t show impatience of yourself.
    9. Repeat/ Recast  the answer so that the children can hear the correct pronunciation or sentence structure.
    10. Use a variety of activities to engage the learner including visual and hands on activities to support the oral instruction.
    11. Use scaffolding to develop their language further.
    12. Change plenaries to a variety of feedback sessions not just Question and Answer sessions and recast where necessary.
    13. Allow extra time if necessary