Its ok to read your child bilingual books – USA

I was pleased to see this written by an american literacy group.  As a teacher I encountered many parents who told me that their child must only speak English and were to be punished in some cases if they did not. This was not something I subscribed to as I believe you should develop your first as well as any subsequent language.  However, I can understand their fear that any distraction including their first lanaguge was a bad thing and detrimental to their learning.  Infact as more research is done on this it is becoming clearer that it enhances the childs understanding so it is refreshing to hear literacy specialists confirming what I had already observed and followed in my teaching. You can read about their finding at:

Raising a  Bilingual Child on Books

Books are a great way to help your kids broaden their vocabulary and teach the heritage and traditions of diverse cultures. Reading is essential, no matter the language that your child is learning. It helps assemble the required groundwork for improving both language and literacy from a young age.

In What Language Should You Read?

If you use the OPOL method (One Person, One Language i.e. the father and/or mother speaks another language) to rear your kids bilingual, many experts agree to stick with the language that you normally use when you speak. If you speak in Spanish to your child, read him or her books in Spanish. The benefit of bilingual books—and you can choose from many in the English-Spanish-combination—is that both parents can read the same book in their own language. You can uncover a range of bilingual, English or Spanish books in the library, book store, or online. If you can understand English and cannot locate books in Spanish, you can read any book, translating to your language as you read. In terms of teaching your child to read, research reveals that it’s simpler on the native tongue of your child. As the parent, you must decide which language to teach your child. If you use the method mL @ H (minority language at home), and Spanish is the minority language, then this is the language that you employ to teach your child to read.

With the OPOL method, a language always dominates over the other. For example, if you reside in the U.S. and are teaching your child English and Spanish, you’ll likely find it easier to teach reading in English, which is the principal language in your community. But residing in the U.S. and not speaking English doesn’t imply you cannot teach reading to your children in Spanish. You have to realize that teaching reading in Spanish will not hurt your children or slow them down. Instead, it’ll impart them with the foundation which they need to read in English.

Remember that you only need to understand how to read once. I frequently hear parents say that Spanish speakers  residing in the U.S. have ceased reading at home because they worry that reading in Spanish can confuse their children. As the parent, you are the first teacher and influencer of language for your children, so it is critical that you feel comfortable using your own native language.


GCSE Success – UK

GCSE results for EAL students are doing well in inner London but not as well in the East of England, the North East and North West. In London English as an addional langauge learners are outperforming native English speakers by 4% points last year.

To support these pupils EMASUK have a set of GCSE Success books.

Every child that sits their GCSE has the same battle, understanding the questions. This is even more difficult if their first language is not English, research has shown that it takes twice as long to answer questions due to the translation and deciphering of terminology. This book supports non English speaking examinees with a simple to understand booklet showing and explaining the term then giving actual exam questions to develop understanding and clarify the response.

In English, French, German, Gujerati, Somali, Polish, Chinese Cantonese, Chinese Mandarin, Hungarian, Russian, Turkish and Slovakian.

Radio 2 Innovation – EMASUK Hand Held Translator – UK


To see Rebeccas tweet go to

Yesterday we were on the Queens Jubilee train to London, weather brilliant sunshine and one of the best train journeys by the coast.  Arriving in Paddington the hustle and bustle greet us.

After being sent around the BBC building twice we finally find Great Western House and Rebecca meets us. She is welcoming and nice, we chat about the product and decide that John will speak as it is easier if there is only one of us. After a short wait we are on John talks to Rebecca and Simon about the handheld translator and shows it working. As soon as it began it is all over and we are having photos taken with Simon and Rebecca they were both lovely as was everyone esle we met in the team. Strangely one of them lives near to St Chads School where I was Deputy Head for a short while.  Thank You.

See a demo at or

Find out more at or use this link

ICT Resource for Migrants – Worldwide

Has anyone seen this resource?

EMASUK – have a range of resources to support English as an additional language from a resource vault which teachers can download from 24/7, to talking technologies including Talking Tutor, Text Tutor and the award winning Two Can Talk. Their most recent offering is a hand held unit which can be carried around easily and speaks out in a choice of 25 langauges.  See a video here to show their award winning bilingual book called Pip.

They also do bilingual books that support the first days in a new school, Maths and exam preparation. I found it at

Academics brand categorisation of ethnic pupils ‘almost useless’ -UK

Have you seen this today? Schools should know how every child in their school is achieving, they take lots of ethnic statistics yet there is a growing band of Europeans who are lost in the statistics.

See more in the article from CYP below.

Benefits of being Bilingual – USA

An indepth scientific study into bilingualism which ends with the following conclusion. There is one very important advantage of learning other languages that I think beats any gains in cognitive control or delays in the onset of dementia. When you learn other languages you can then actually speak those languages, read those literatures, talk to new people in their native language, eaves-drop on their conversations on the bus, order off the menu, pick up that gorgeous stranger in the piazza.

In a recent paper published in Psychological Science, a team of psychologists led by Boaz Keysar at the University of Chicago found that forcing people to rely on a second language systematically reduced human biases, allowing the subjects to escape from the usual blind spots of cognition. In a sense, they were better able to think without style.

Read more at:

The Impact of Bilingualism in education, upbringing and the community.

By Derrick Fazendin and Jason Barrera
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 20:32
When Maria Taracena moved 10 years ago from Guatemala City, Guatemala to Tucson she didn’t speak English.

“It took me awhile to become accustomed to the way of living,” Taracena said. “I’d say the biggest transition though was learning English.”

Now, after living completely immersed for 10 years in the United States, Taracena is fluent in English. She also still speaks Spanish daily at home with her family and her Spanish-speaking friends in the Tucson community.

Even though being bilingual has been shown by researchers to have certain benefits for cognitive development, there are currently only three bilingual schools to foster that development in Arizona—according to the Arizona Department of Education website.

Listen to bilingual speakers in the Tucson, Ariz. community talk about the impact of two languages on their lives and professions.

While bilingual children have a more limited vocabulary in English than a monolingual child, bilingual children are able to complete tasks that measure the development of the area of the brain responsible for languages faster and with a better score.

Though Taracena considers herself to be bilingual, her path to bilingualism differs from current students who are building their bilingual skills at Roskruge Bilingual Magnet School in Tucson.

“I love to promote with our students how many doors being bilingual is going to open for them,” said Jose Olivas, principal of Roskruge and a bilingual educator for 25 years. “There’s a saying, ‘El que habla dos idiomas vale por dos’ which means ‘He who speaks two languages is two people.”

Some parents seem to be buying in to the notion that bilingual education and a bilingual upbringing expands opportunities for children to explore other paths towards a successful future, at least at Roskruge.

The bilingual magnet school holds a lottery for parents or guardians who want to enroll their child in the school when a spot opens up. Currently with 700 students enrolled in kindergarten to 8th grade, Roskruge only has two spots, one in kindergarten and one in sixth grade, opening for the 2012-2013 school year.

The school’s average class size in elementary school is 25 students, while the average class size in middle school is 30 students.

“Our parents understand our program and are very supportive of our program,” Olivas said. “They see the importance of learning a second language and perhaps they weren’t taught a second language because of the pressure to learn only English. Now, those parents are starting to see what they missed out on and want their children to have that opportunity.”

According to Olivas, the Roskruge bilingual program teaches students subjects in one language one week, then changes the language the following week, but continues the lesson—picking up where the curriculum left off the previous week.

“We’re not translating everything. Some weeks you will hear language arts in Spanish and language arts in English,” Olivas said. “It’s a spiral, you’re building on it—becoming bilingual and bi-literate doesn’t happen overnight.”

Despite the opportunities and benefits language learning expands for students, bilingualism in Arizona has seen pressure from political initiatives in the past.

Arizona Proposition 203 English for Children, was a 2000 passed legislation that prohibited “teaching of reading, writing or subject matter” in a language other than English.

The initiative, though, also allows districts to acknowledge parental waivers for students to continue or stay in a bilingual program.

“I feel a bilingual education is what’s best for students,” Olivas said. “It’s foolish to think that learning a second language is going to hurt you. It’s only going to help you.”

Joseph Casillas, a University of Arizona instructor who teaches Spanish classes to heritage speakers (students who are raised in a home where the dominant language spoken is not English), grew up speaking both English and Spanish.

Through his classroom teaching at the UA, Casillas says he can view the struggle of the minds of heritage students—how they are trying to grasp their heritage language through grammar instruction as opposed to just language immersion at home.

However, regardless of how bilingual skills are attained, experts agree that the bilingual arena is always changing depending on where a person is living or what a person is doing—a constant struggle of the bilingual or multilingual person.

“I think we have this myth of the perfect bilingual—where the person is exactly the same in both languages,” Casillas said. “The biggest difference is that the bilingual is dealing with two worlds. They have to separate and decide and match up the languages with certain situations and certain people.”

While the differences and advantages continue to be explored through research, Casillas says that there is still more to be discovered when considering bilingualism.

“It’s true there is research that shows bilinguals doing things that monolingual kids can’t do,” Casillas said. “But, you have to take it with a grain of salt because other research for example shows that bilingual kids don’t perceive sounds in either language as fast as a monolingual does. I wouldn’t even say it’s a disadvantage, but you can just see the differences.”

Bilingual Free School to Open in UK

Bilingual Free School to Open

The Bilingual Primary School, which is due to open in September, has announced it will hold classes at Brighton Aldridge Community Academy in Lewes Road, subject to a consultation this month.

The school has struggled to find a home since it was given the provisional green light by the Department of Education last year.

It aims to be the first state-funded bilingual English/Spanish primary school in the country.

See more via the link.

Lithuanian Language – The right to be taught in your mother tongue is treasured.

This week in the Times Education Supplement (TES) I saw this story which I thought everyone reading this blog would be interested in. They are correct the mother tongue should be cherished and treasured. Liz

In any other country in Europe, the notion of Poles and Russians making common cause on the streets would raise eyebrows. The history of distrust between the two countries – often boiling over into loathing and violence – is a long and unpleasant one.

But not so in Lithuania. An unlikely pairing was forged last year when the government passed a law that extended the teaching of subjects in the Lithuanian language to minority Polish, Russian and Belarusian schools. It also introduced a measure that would see children from minorities take exams in Lithuanian. The right to be taught in your mother tongue is a long-cherished one in this former outpost of the Soviet Union. As such, these minorities view the changes as highly discriminatory.

For centuries, the borders between Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia have expanded and withdrawn many times. And from the 16th to the 18th centuries, Poland and Lithuania were effectively the same nation, conjoined in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Even today, a native Vilnius taxi driver will converse with customers in Polish. But in Russian, never.

Of the three Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – the Russian language is arguably the least welcome in Lithuania, where the indigenous population far outnumbers the minorities. By contrast, in the Latvian capital, Riga, Russian speakers evenly match those of Latvians. The hostility towards Russian in Lithuania owes much to its domination by the Soviet Union before and after the Second World War.

Poland, too, has its many issues with the Big Bear to the east, due to years of conquest and then post-war Communist domination. This is one reason why the sight of thousands of protesters from all the national minorities in Lithuania marching together was such a novel one – not least because, alongside the many banners in Polish, there were a handful in Russian, too. Those on the rally platform outside parliament spoke in a variety of languages, including Lithuanian, and drew applause from all sections of the crowd. As an apparent display of conciliation, many demonstrators held small Lithuanian tricolour flags, in among a wave of Polish red and white.

As with other countries, it is never pleasant when matters in the classroom become the source of nationalistic spite. Indeed, ahead of the demonstration in March, fears were stoked in the media that far-Right elements from Poland were being bussed into Lithuania to cause trouble. In turn, Lithuanian extremists held protests at the Polish embassy in Vilnius, demanding that their minority in Poland be accorded the same rights “enjoyed” by Poles in Lithuania.

Since the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, nationalism has been unleashed in the former Communist countries of Europe. While some try to build bridges, others are ever ready to tear them down. And on occasion, schooling gets caught up in these tensions