Embracing bilingualism helps school achieve Good OFSTED report.

What great news that a school in Peterborough has improved so greatly in the past months that OFSTED have now deemed them as good. So remarkable that news papers Peterborough Today and the Daily Mail and even the radio station R2 have today run the story.


Readers of this blog will not be surprised that by embracing bilingualism and using it to benefit your teaching improves and speeds up the rate that the pupils learn English. I have gathered information about its benefits and the results are now starting to come through. The head teacher clearly supports this view of bilingualism and her results show that by embracing it results can be improved quickly. I believe this is the start of the educational culture change which so many schools and LA officers were resisting up until a year or so ago.


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.’

I am also hopeful that this great result will also make sure that gone are the conversations littered with  I only have one or two! or what can I do I don’t speak their language? as an excuse is changing. Gone and evidently going are the teachers plodding along teaching what is comfortable for them in such a way that it takes longer than necessary for the children to pick up the language.  Children pick up social language quite easily and it is the schools job to ensure the curriculum is taught and academic language is known and understood. In the future we should now be able to say that  Every Student does Matter.

There will be difficulties along the way as the head describes here;

‘Sometimes parents have tried to help  their  children learn English but their own isn’t too good,’ she said.  ‘The outcome is  the children aren’t fluent in their own language. If  they haven’t got a good  foundation [in their own language] it can be  very difficult to build on  that.’

but by sharing and supporting each other we can ensure that this becomes the reality.


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.


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.


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.


  • 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%


  • 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

Merry Christmas Everyone

In readiness for the 1st Of December.  Here is Merry Christms in lots of languages. If yours isnt included please add in the commnet box. Merry Christmas to all of my followers.

Afrikaans: Geseënde  Kersfees
Afrikander: Een  Plesierige Kerfees
African/ Eritrean/  Tigrinja : Rehus-Beal-Ledeats
Albanian : Gezur Krislinjden
Arabic: Milad  Majid
Argentine: Feliz Navidad
Armenian : Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari  Gaghand
Azeri : Tezze  Iliniz Yahsi Olsun
Bahasa Malaysia : Selamat Hari Natal
Basque : Zorionak eta Urte Berri  On!
Bohemian : Vesele Vanoce
Brazilian : Feliz Natal
Bengali : Shubho borodin
Breton : Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat
Bulgarian : Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo
Catalan : Bon  Nadal i un Bon Any Nou!
Chile : Feliz Navidad
Chinese Cantonese : Gun Tso Sun Tan’Gung Haw Sun
Chinese Mandarin : Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan  
Choctaw : Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito
Columbia : Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo
Cornish : Nadelik  looan na looan blethen noweth
Corsian : Pace e salute
Crazanian : Rot Yikji Dol La Roo
Cree : Mitho Makosi Kesikansi
Croatian : Sretan  Bozic
Czech : Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok
Danish : Glædelig Jul
Duri : Christmas-e- Shoma Mobarak
Dutch : Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! or  Zalig Kerstfeast
English : Merry  Christmas

Eskimo : (inupik) Jutdlime pivdluarit ukiortame  pivdluaritlo!
Esperanto : Gajan Kristnaskon
Estonian :  Ruumsaid  juulup|hi
Ethiopian : (Amharic) Melkin Yelidet Beaal 

Eritfean/ Tigrinja : Rehus- Beal- Ledeats

Faeroese : Gledhilig jol og eydnurikt nyggjar!
Farsi : Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad
Finnish : Hyvaa  joulua
Flemish : Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar
French : Joyeux Noel
Frisian : Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije  Jier!
Faeroese : Gledhilig jol og eydnurikt nyggjar! 
Fyrom : Sreken Bozhik
Galician : Bo Nada
Gaelic: Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr!
German : Froehliche Weihnachten
Greek : Kala Christouyenna! 
Greenlandic :  Juullimi Pilluaritsi!

Haiti : (Creole)  Jwaye Nowel or to Jesus Edo Bri’cho o Rish D’Shato Brichto
Hausa : Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar  Shekara!
Hawaiian : Mele Kalikimaka
Hebrew : Mo’adim Lesimkha. Chena tova
Hindi : Baradin ki  shubh kamnaaye
Hausa : Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara!
Hawaian : Mele  Kalikimaka ame Hauoli Makahiki Hou!
Hungarian : Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket

Icelandic : Gledileg Jol
Indonesian : Selamat Hari Natal
Iraqi : Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
Irish: Nollaig Shona Dhuit, or Nodlaig mhaith  chugnat
Iroquois : Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson honungradon nagwutut. Ojenyunyat  osrasay.
Italian : Buone Feste Natalizie
Japanese : Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto

Korean : Sung Tan Chuk Ha

Lao : souksan van Christmas
Latin : Natale hilare et Annum Faustum!
Latvian : Prieci’gus Ziemsve’tkus un Laimi’gu Jauno  Gadu!
Lausitzian : Wjesole hody a strowe nowe leto
Lettish : Priecigus Ziemassvetkus
Lithuanian : Linksmu Kaledu
Maltese : IL-Milied It-tajjeb
Manx : Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa
Maori : Meri Kirihimete
Marathi : Shub Naya Varsh

Navajo : Merry Keshmish
Norwegian : God Jul, or Gledelig Jul
Occitan: Pulit nadal e bona annado

Papiamento : Bon Pasco
Papua New Guinea : Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia i go long  yu
Pennsylvania German :  En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en hallich Nei Yaahr!
Peru : Feliz Navidad  y un Venturoso Año Nuevo
Philipines : Maligayan Pasko!
Polish : Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
Portuguese : Feliz Natal
Pushto : Christmas Aao Ne-way Kaal Mo Mobarak Sha

Rapa-Nui (Easter Island): Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi.  Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua
Rhetian : Bellas festas da nadal e bun onn
Romanche : (sursilvan dialect): Legreivlas fiastas da Nadal e bien niev  onn!
Romanian :   Craciun Fericit
Russian : Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is  Novim Godom
Sami : Buorrit Juovllat

Samoan : La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou
Sardinian : Bonu nadale e prosperu annu nou
Serbian : Hristos se rodi
Slovakian : Sretan Bozic or Vesele vianoce
Samoan : La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou
Scots Gaelic : Nollaig chridheil huibh
Serbian : Hristos se rodi.
Singhalese : Subha nath thalak Vewa. Subha Aluth Awrudhak  Vewa
Slovak : Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok
Slovene : Vesele Bozicne Praznike Srecno Novo Leto
Spanish : Feliz Navidad
Swedish : God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt År
Tagalog : Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Taon
Tami : Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal
Trukeese : (Micronesian) Neekiriisimas annim oo iyer  seefe feyiyeech!
Thai : Sawadee Pee Mai or souksan wan Christmas
Turkish :  Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Ukrainian : Srozhdestvom Kristovym
Urdu : Naya Saal Mubarak Ho
Vietnamese : Chuc Mung Giang Sinh

Welsh : Nadolig Llawen

Yoruba : E ku odun, e ku iye’dun!
Yugoslavian : Cestitamo Bozic

With thanks to : http://www.theholidayspot.com/christmas/worldxmas/manylanguages.htm#dRYQcGLJF2DWQcep.99


Different languages force the brain to perceive reality and describe it in different manners and having a common language erases borders.

Growing up in Wales, speaking Welsh sometimes in school reading bilingual signs for what seems to be forever is what reminds me of my childhood. There was no fear just acceptance that that was the way it was. Luckily at this point I didn’t know about the Welsh not and was horrified when I learnt of it during my late teenage years and remember not understanding why we went through that process in our history.

This news item interested me because the languages that are bilingual are not commonly put together today and also in many ways it mirrors some of the facts and experiences of my childhood where Welsh and English were part of daily life. In my experience some people knew only Welsh, some only English and others were on a path between the two.

Here is the story.

Languages have always fascinated me.  From an early age I realized that different groups of people spoke different languages–and the words they used provided a window into unique worldviews.

This was because I grew up in a bilingual community in Western Kansas.  To visit Hays, Kansas, today, a person might not realize, but in the first half of the twentieth century, a majority of the population did not speak English as a native language, but rather German.  The German speakers were descendants of as group called the Volga Germans, Bavarians who had immigrated to Russia for nearly a century, and then immigrated to the Great Plains of the United States.

My family owned a lumber yard and hardware store.  All of our store clerks were bilingual in German, since most of the farmers only spoke German, and many of the contractors preferred German for their daily needs.  Although my family was also of Germanic origin — we came from Switzerland in the mid-nineteenth century — we had abandoned our language nearly a century earlier.  My father had to make do with what he called “kitchen German.”

My best childhood friend came from a German-speaking family.  Although his parents were fully bilingual, his grandparents much preferred German.  There were kids in my class who spoke a very heavily German accented English, even though they were third generation Americans. In spite of being surrounded by German, it just never found its way into the language center of my brain, except for a few stock phrases, and (sadly) swear words.

As a result of a quirk of fate, my father had begun travelling in Mexico when he was in college, in the late 1930s.  My parents honeymooned in Mexico, and in the early 1950s we began to vacation in Mexico every year at Christmastime.  As a result, from a very young age, I was also introduced to Spanish, and being a small child immersed in the language, I began to pick it up, in a manner that never happened with German for me.

Growing up in a multilingual environment was a gift to me, and certainly affected how I view the world. So it felt natural to concentrate on language during my university studies. I served as an assistant instructor of Spanish and went on to pick up Nahuatl (the Aztec language) as I studied early colonial Latin America earning my doctorate. It was an interesting challenge to learn a complex language like Nahuatl as an adult, compared to how seemingly simple it had been to pick up Spanish when I was a boy.

Growing up in a multilingual environment is very beneficial for the intellectual development of a child.  Folks used to think that if a child grew up in a multilingual home, the child would suffer from never achieving true fluency in either language, or perhaps confusing one language for the other.  Modern research has proven just the opposite.  Children keep track of languages very efficiently.  Rather than diminishing their language skills, it enhances them.  This might be because different languages force the brain to perceive reality and describe it in different manners.  This confirms the old saw: “The brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised.”

My wife and I saw this first-hand.  Our older son was raised in a bilingual environment, learning both Spanish and English from infancy.  When he was a toddler, we had great difficulty when he spoke to us in Spanish, because neither of us had learned Spanish baby talk.  Folks around us had to interpret for us.  As a Spanish teacher myself, it was very exciting to hear our son make exactly the same grammatical errors that his little friends did; errors which a native English speaker would not usually commit when learning Spanish, but perfectly in line with language development in Spanish. His Spanish skills have gone on to serve him very well in adulthood..

The study of foreign languages is simply the gift that keeps on giving.  It provides a person with multiple perspectives from which to view the world.  It actually strengthens the mind.  It allows a person to travel to other countries, which is also a great gift.  Most importantly, having a common language erases borders.  It allows one to put others at ease.

Learning in one’s mother tongue promotes a deep conceptual understanding of a subject say Mapelo Tlowane, Abram Mashatole, Sibongile Bopape, Mafeye Morapedi

Todays post looks at four students view of bilingualism on completion of their multilingual degree. Some real food for thought here for all educators. Just tracking their learning helps us understand more what younger children go through when trying to learn another language.


These students admit themselves that they were unsure what course to take and it feels as though they choose this more as a default that an active choice but at the end you see they have got so much from it including a clear understanding of their learing and their academic learning side by side.

Many people see the promotion of multilingualism as representing a choice between an African language and English, but the BA contemporary English and multilingual studies degree demonstrates that students need to have a strong foundation for academics in their own language on which competence in an additional language can be confidently built. In other words, both one’s own language and the language of global communication have to be promoted to implement bi- or multilingualism effectively.

In our first year at university we struggled to make sense of lectures in English and the scholarly academic texts. It was difficult to write our own ideas in English and in most cases we would simply cut and paste excerpts from texts for our assignments.

How honest and lets face it what many monolinguists do when being assessed in their own language, but also when used properly a tool to help build on sentence structure, context, word and sentence level syntax and correct sentence structuring with respect to punctuation and formation.

As they progress you can see their minds developing also as they realise the benefits of their mother tongue in relation to their new language learning.

The freedom of our own language
But in the lectures in Sepedi we did not struggle because it was the language that we used every day. We could focus on the meaning and the content and with the freedom to use our own language we gained a deeper understanding of new ideas and concepts of multilingualism.

Then as they progress they eventually meet the current thinking, of all who promote the benefits of bilingualism, multilingualism and the retention of a learners mother tongue, that there is a discourse between the practical application and language learning in schools and the policies made.

We began to understand why such a huge gap existed between our much celebrated language policies and their implementation. But, much more empoweringly, we learned how we, as fluent and committed bilingual people, could play a role in bridging this gap.

We have given presentations at conferences, spoken to young school-leavers and are conducting research into the problems of rural and township schools. We have interviewed advocates of mother tongue-based bilingual education (such as Kathleen Heugh, Nancy Hornberger and the late Neville Alexander) and have come to understand the de-vastating economic effect of English-only or English-mainly education, especially on impoverished communities.

They then discuss that when learnt unconscious transference goes on and thinking about it when I read Welsh signs I just read the Welsh and instantly know what it means there is no back and for translation in my head.

We are finding that competencies learned in one language can be readily and almost unconsciously transferred to another language, provided these competencies are related to higher-order thinking, such as hypothesising, predicting, analysing and synthesising.

They discuss Vygotsky and his view of learning and can ably show their biliteral skills are well-developed and are now making them useful for their working life.

The ideas of Lev Vygotsky, especially the value he attached to mediation and the view that learning (instruction) leads development, permeate all our modules. In one of them, “language and cognition”, we specifically focused on his ideas and conducted research into private speech and fantasy play in our own communities.

We rejoice over the newly acquired biliteracy competencies the degree developed in us. Our external examiners commented on the fact that we write with engagement in both our languages and show deep conceptual understanding. We move across our two worlds with ease and confidence and have experienced our university education as transformative, empowering and very fulfilling.

All four of us have chosen to be researchers in bilingual education. One of us is a tutor in the BA contemporary English and multilingual studies programme and three of us are pursuing master’s degrees in a project the National Research Foundation has funded.

More than that, we feel specially advantaged to have had a unique education that makes us eligible for careers as bilingual teachers, translators, interpreters, liaison officers, researchers, writers, bilingual journalists, communication officers and language specialists.

Good luck to them and I look forward to seeing more of their learning as they follow their bilingual/multilingual journey.