OFQUAL – results of the ESOL consultation

OFQUAL have shared their response after all of their ESOL consultations. See below.

Based upon the responses received to the consultation, and discussions that we have held with the UK Border Agency (UKBA), the Home Office, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland, we have decided that:

  • We will not introduce Conditions for a new qualification called ESOL for Life in the UK.  Most of the consultation respondents felt that existing ESOL qualifications already provided appropriate qualifications for UK entry, settlement and citizenship.  In April 2013 the Home Office announced that it would accept a range of qualifications – including Ofqual-regulated ESOL qualifications – as evidence of English language competence to meet the Home Office Knowledge of Language and Life (KoLL) requirement.  Applicants for UK settlement and citizenship will also need to pass the Home Office’s Life in the UK Test, which is subject to stringent security arrangements.  We consider that this will go some way to mitigating the current malpractice issues.  Therefore there is no requirement to introduce a new ESOL qualification for the purposes that were outlined at the time of our consultation
  • We will introduce additional General Conditions of Recognition for ESOL International qualifications that will specify a consistent requirement for 100% external assessment and mapping to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).  There was support from stakeholders for both of these conditions
  • We will retain the additional regulation currently in place for ESOL Skills for Life (SfL).  This regulation requires ESOL SfL qualifications to demonstrate a clear relationship to the Adult ESOL Core Curriculum published by BIS.  The responses from the majority of stakeholders said that they wanted this relationship to continue.  In February 2013, the Skills Funding Agency announced it would continue to support only ESOL qualifications that are based on the National Standards for Adult Literacy and the Adult ESOL Core Curriculum.  Therefore we will retain this regulation in its current form
  • We will withdraw the additional regulations currently in place for ESOL for Work.  These regulations are already covered by our General Conditions of Recognition and so this change removes duplication and streamlines regulation of this qualification

We will update the current criteria for ESOL Qualifications and General Conditions of Recognition to reflect the changes described above and publish these documents on our website

 

 

http://ofqual.gov.uk/news/results-of-our-esol-consultation/?dm_i=BTP,1GFI8,2903LB,4XY73,1

138,000 speak no English – census UK

Following on from the last blog it seems that the question of movement and more children arriving in classrooms with another language and little or no English is going to be an upward trend.  Todays census information has ben revealed and suggests:

The number of Polish-born people living in England and Wales has risen by almost 900% since the last census and they now make up 1% of the population – more than Irish-born residents.

Pete Stokes, census statistical design manager for the Office of National Statistics. says most of the Polish migrants tend to be younger, and more prepared to move for work.

“Polish migrants are driven by economics and they are going everywhere. People from Poland are in every local authority in the country, they are not clustering,” he said.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20713380

Furthermore the statistics show that:

The number of people living in England and Wales who could not speak any English was 138,000, latest figures from the 2011 census show.

After English, the second most reported main language was Polish, with 546,000 speakers, followed by Punjabi and Urdu.

Some 4 million – or 8% – reported speaking a different main language other than English or Welsh.

Of those with a main language other than English,

1.7 million could speak  English very well,

1.6 million could speak English well, and

726,000 could speak English, however not well. The remaining 138,000 could not speak English at all.

On the plus side there are lots of people and probably teachers arriving with Polish as their first language so maybe we should look at a curriculum which promotes Polish as an MFL and not French? On the negative side schools need to look at how they communicate with parents, children and community to engage them in schooling otherwise our stats as a world leader in education will keep going down and then how they ensure the curriculum is taught and academic language achieved in order that they can partake of formal examinations and receive a grade/number relevant to their true potential.  A hard one but something we must look at, at National and local level to make sure we are not failing our children.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21259401

Finally when I first started teaching I remember people would say there were geographic areas which attracted new arrivals from overseas again this is borne out by the census as is my recent blogs that more and more schools are now witnessing challenging learning requirements to make sure all the pupils reach their potential.

The greatest numerical change has however been in London. In 2001, almost two million people in the capital were born abroad. Today it is almost three million. If anyone doubted that London was now a world city, rather than just the capital of the UK, the figures say different.

Only 44% of people in London now describe themselves as white British. In the east London borough of Newham, fewer than a fifth of the population described themselves so.

Four out of every 10 people in London in 2011 were foreign-born – up from three in 10 in 2001.

Overall, four London boroughs – Newham, Brent, Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea are now home to a majority who were born outside of the UK. Three other parts of the capital are not far off.

LEAST BORN ABROAD

  • Blaenau Gwent 1,500 (2.2%)
  • Redcar and Cleveland 3,000 (2.2%)
  • Staffordshire Moorlands 2,200 (2.2%)
  • Knowsley 3,400 2.3%
  • Caerphilly 3,400 2.3%

MOST BORN ABROAD

  • Brent 171,000 (55%)
  • Newham 165,000 (54%)
  • Westminster 117,000 (53%)
  • Kensington and Chelsea 82,000 (52%)

The history of migration was once the story of cities: We had very distinct communities in specific places – an African-Caribbean community in London or Birmingham, for instance, and Indian or East African Asian people in Leicester.

Large historic communities remain – but there is also greater geographic spread among newcomers. For instance, some 90% of the Poles in the UK are spread across England and Wales in community after community.

So overall, increasing change, rapid change and increasing diversity.

Today, almost 10,000 people born abroad call Boston home – 3,000 of them from Poland, more than any other local authority outside of the South East.

We will need to create teaching resources using all the ICT and non-ICT resources we have available to make sure that these children grow up as world or global citizens, available for work in more than one country, yet achieving at the best level they can regardless of language/s.  It is our duty to make sure through our unwillingness to change or change our practice that we hold these new world citizens back

Supporting language acquisition through Literacy

These are a few ideas for teaching learners who are learning English and have to read for meaning.

Before reading a book give the children the words needed to understand the important parts of the text. Where appropriate allow the child to revert back to prior language via internet machine translators to access their prior learning.  Give them the time needed to answer allowing them to process in their mind.

Their process could include reading it in English, reverting back to previous language understanding what is meant in prior language and then finding the words to explain this in their first language and then back into English.  All this can take time so try not to get too impatient as they practice. Think about when you try to translate in a language you know, what process do you go through?

By allowing this to happen it develops the pupils minds and they have a clear understanding of what the written word is conveying.  In turn this allows the child to develop a secure understanding of the text and characters.

When the child falters allow them to read a sentence and then encourage them to read it again this time more fluently to help them practice and develop their fluency. Keep a regular check on each child’s comprehension to ensure they are fully understanding the new words. Where possible put them into context so that when the child next sees the same letter formation they feel confident at reading it aloud.

Then ask each child in a the group to read part of the story.  Question them to ensure understanding and also check their fluency but importantly make it a secure environment where they can try out new sound sensations.

When questioning develop their sentence level via a game e.g. put their hand in a  bag and pull out a word related to the new text they are reading.

  1. Ask them to find a word e.g. beach
  2. Read out the word
  3. Then ask them to create a sentence e.g. I went to the beach
  4. and finally extend it by asking them what they did e.g. I went to the beach and swam in the water.
  5. Review and repeat the sentence to ensure concrete understanding.
  6. Above all make it enjoyable.

“Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill.” Stephen Krashen

How many children will be glad to know that, how many of us have sat through really boring lessons?  I like Stephen Krashen’s theory because from my experiences it make sense.  Learning in context, using prior learning as a bridge to the next piece of knowledge is how we all learn, yet these building blocks are sometimes forgotten as are the age and linguistic development of the learner at times.

I agree with all of these saying attributed Krashen below and still find it amazing that I have had arguments with head teachers who cannot see the benefit of a safe environment where it is ok to make mistakes. This particular head was definite that no one was allowed to make mistakes….well… we all know no one is perfect, so lets embrace this fact and make it safe to try, with the skills and backup to make sure the mistake is made once and learnt from. I ask all language teachers whatever your situation,  Is your area safe to learn in?? I expect the knee jerk will be yes, but as reflective practitioners lets look at what our evidence tells us, if the children are cautious about trying, then you know deep inside that the ethos or atmosphere is wrong somewhere.

“Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language – natural communication – in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the messages they are conveying and understanding.” Stephen Krashen

“The best methods are therefore those that supply ‘comprehensible input’ in low anxiety situations, containing messages that students really want to hear. These methods do not force early production in the second language, but allow students to produce when they are ‘ready’, recognizing that improvement comes from supplying communicative and comprehensible input, and not from forcing and correcting production.” Stephen Krashen

“In the real world, conversations with sympathetic native speakers who are willing to help the acquirer understand are very helpful.” Stephen Krashen 

Wishing you all Happy Language Learning

Minority bilingual children from low-income families demonstrate important strengths in other cognitive domains

Many research papers so far have looked at bilingual middle class children and the benefits bilingualism brings. This is interesting as it focuses on low-income families and suggests that:

The researchers believe that the findings could inform efforts to reduce the  achievement gap between children of different socioeconomic backgrounds. “Our  study suggests that intervention programs  that are based on second language teaching are a fruitful avenue for future  research,” says Engel de Abreu.

“Teaching a foreign language does not involve costly equipment, it  widens children’s linguistic and cultural horizons, and it fosters the healthy  development of executive control.”

They created tests that tested knowledge, memory and their ability to focus when there were distractions.

A total of 80 second graders from low-income families participated in the  study. Half of the children were first or second generation immigrants to  Luxembourg, originally from Northern Portugal, who spoke both Luxembourgish and  Portuguese on a daily basis. The other half of the children lived in Northern  Portugal and spoke only Portuguese.

 

The researchers first tested the children’s vocabularies by asking them to  name items presented in pictures. Both groups completed the task in Portuguese  and the bilingual children also completed the task in Luxembourgish.

 

To examine how the children represented knowledge in memory, the researchers  asked them to find a missing piece that would complete a specific geometric shape. The researchers also measured the  children’s memory, using two different tasks to see how much visual information  the children could keep in mind at a given time.

 

To examine how the children represented knowledge in memory, the researchers  asked them to find a missing piece that would complete a specific geometric shape. The researchers also measured the  children’s memory, using two different tasks to see how much visual information  the children could keep in mind at a given time.

 

The children then participated in two tasks that looked at their ability to  direct and focus their attention when distractions were present. In the first  task, they had to find and match 20 pairs of spacecrafts as quickly as possible,  a task that depended on their ability to ignore all the non-matching  spacecrafts. In the second task, the children were presented with a row of  yellow fish on a computer screen and they  had to press a button to indicate which direction the fish in the center was  facing. The other fish either pointed in the same or opposite direction of the  fish in the middle.

 

Although the bilingual children knew fewer words than their monolingual  peers, and did not show an advantage for representation tasks, they performed  better on the control tasks than did the monolingual children, just as the  researchers hypothesized.

This is all good, beneficial research and something that no doubt will become a greater research area as more research finds benefits in bilingual education.

It is really interesting reading and can be found at: http://scienceblog.com/56290/speaking-two-languages-also-benefits-low-income-children/#ID4t583mCmoIY3P5.99

 

 

 

Developing Literacy for EAL learners

Literacy is one focus of OFSTED in the UK from the start of this month.  First let us be clear what Literacy means…often these words are used without much thought about what it means… Literacy in education is how we help children enjoy reading and writing, with focus on three areas speaking and listening, and reading and writing.

With EAL learners John Foxwell Director EMASUK suggests we look at how to use Pip to support the parents reading to the children in either language (bi-literacy will also be improved when used effectively), use this lovely book to allow them to read to their siblings and new arrivals in English. Pip itself is bilingual so can be used to develop vocabulary by using the first language as a bridge. There is also the advantage of the picture book being part of the range, so that the parent/teacher and child can see how they have progressed in their development of their reading skills.

He further suggests starting points for conversations, and when linked to the computer programme it scaffolds writing by giving word lists.  It encourages story boarding by linking up pictures and words and develops personal awareness by making children think and discuss how they feel.

And so to OFSTED themselves.

OFSTED Inspectors report that they have found  that the factors that most commonly limited pupils’ learning included: an excessive pace of a lesson; an overloading of activities; inflexible planning, and limited time for pupils to work independently. In some schools teachers concentrated too much or too early on a narrow range of test or examination skills and few schools give enough thought to ways of encouraging the love of reading in school and beyond the classroom.

OFSTED have themselves suggested the following as good examples of how to develop good reading practice to support literacy development.

To get the reading habit integrated straightaway, in the first term of Year 7, the English homework for all students is to read independently at home. The school launched a joint parent/child reading group, attended by a local author, which inspired parents and pupils. Family Review Days held in the library give parents the opportunity to talk about books with the librarian and with students. They can drop in anytime to discuss how they can help their child choose a suitable book and offer support and encouragement.

The school annually updates and sends out a list of recommended reads to reflect current trends in reading as well as classics. It also produces ‘Reading Matters’ leaflets for parents, with useful hints and tips to support their child’s reading, which include the following.

• ‘Read aloud with your child, or try reading the same book they are reading and talk to them about it.
• Let them see you reading, whether it is a book, a magazine or a newspaper. Lead by example!
• If they enjoy movies or TV shows based on children’s books such as Tracy Beaker or Harry Potter, encourage them to give the books a try.
• Encourage them to read to younger brothers and sisters. We have a ‘babysitting’ box in the library with great books they could use.
• Encourage them to join the school Readers’ Club. They can then get involved in all kinds of extra-curricular activities, from drama workshops to meeting the illustrator from Beano!’

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/news/driving-standards-of-literacy

John Foxwell reminds us that Pip is available as a picture book or English only, or bilingually in  English and Polish, Albanian, Chinese Mandarin, Chinese Cantonese, Czech, Dutch, Russian, French, German, Nepali, Kurdish, Hungarian, Norwegian, Hebrew, Latvian, and Romanian http://shop.emasuk.com/  Add storycreator to make a truly useful inexpensive package for all language learners whether learning English, MFL Languages or bridging from their home language.

Given the lack of bilingual English graduates, is learning a language an alternative way to stand out?

Now that the stress of results are over here is one compelling story giving graduates the reason to look at choosing languages for their degrees or part of their degree portfolio. It is always hard choosing subjects to take and it never gets easier, but thinking ahead to the world of work and globalisation maybe languages should become a necessary option for most.

Settit Beyene discusses her case for Universities to support language learning more. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jul/19/optional-language-modules-degree

Given the lack of bilingual English graduates, is learning a language an alternative way to stand out?

Clara, a recent graduate who is now working in marketing, puts her job success down to her degree choice – French. “My language skills definitely made job hunting easier. Being able to speak French is a skill that I have over other graduates and being able to deal with international clients is a boost to my company.”

But what about students who are studying different subjects? Given that only 38% of Brits speak a foreign language (compared to 56% of Europeans), it’s unlikely there are many polyglots among us.

If you’ve got enough self-motivation, it is possible brush up your language skills in your spare time. There are plenty of free online resources available, and you could even travel in your holidays to practise conversation skills.

But let’s face it, when term gets busy, hobbies drop further down the priority list. Wouldn’t it make more sense for universities to allow undergraduates to study optional, foreign language modules as part of their main degree?

The University of Southampton is just one institution that is already doing so. It’s helping to facilitate language learning and boost employability by offering courses such as “French for marine scientists” and “German language for engineers”.

University is the perfect time to learn a language. Most students have fairly flexible schedules, and universities can offer plenty of support.

You don’t need to be fluent in a second-tongue to boost your chances in the job market. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found that 74% of employers recruit applicants with conversational ability rather than those who are word perfect. They believe this can “help break the ice, deepen cultural understanding, and open business access to new markets.”

Deborah Till of the University of Nottingham careers service says language is becoming a top priority for companies. “Increasingly, multinational companies value language skills as an added extra when considering applications.” Law firm Eversheds is among those awarding bonus points to applicants with foreign language skills.

Of course, it’s not just the business world that values bilingual employees. So why is it that more universities aren’t offering flexible degrees?

When £9k fees are introduced, perhaps universities will be forced to look more closely at enhancing students’ employment prospects. Language skills are one way to get there.

Being able to bridge the language barrier can save lives and money

Whether you speak one, two or more languages in critical situations it is more important whether you understand one, two or more languages and can communicate.  Whether this is by using the support of translation engines like EMASUK, or interpreters, the most important factor in my view will always be the safety of the child or patient. This is clearly easier to see within the world of  medicine where being able to find with clarity the problem to diagnose quickly and correctly is critical. This is also appropriate in schools where safeguarding, disclosure and again medical information needs to be transmitted from one person to another.

It was therefore nice to see this comment in the Red Orbit News:

Having bilingual staff to serve as medical interpreters can help prevent unnecessary testing and misdiagnosis. And clear, culturally sensitive communication can help produce greater patient compliance, satisfaction and improved health outcomes,” said Firoozeh Vali, PhD, NJHA’s vice president of research.

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.

http://comment.ofqual.gov.uk/?dm_i=BTP,XQ8W,2903LB,2T1UO,1