Is the new OFSTED criteria and lesson observations creating even more mental health problems in schools?

The news story below hit a chord with me not only on a personal teacher level, but also as a consultant having worked in schools where not only one person lesson was judged inadequate, but the whole school. When schools are judged to be inadequate this same reaction holds true for the teacher in questions, the teachers as a whole, the auxiliary staff, the parents and the community.

The demotivating effect was instantaneous. I was so upset that I couldn’t go back into the classroom that afternoon. Instead, I went home and proceeded to do absolutely zero planning for the next day. For the rest of the week, my teaching was somewhat lacklustre because I was so wrung out by the distress of the observation. I felt ashamed of myself and unworthy of the responsibility of teaching a class of children. I started to feel overwhelmed by the possibility that I might be letting my students down. By the weekend, I was experiencing symptoms of anxiety.

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/feb/15/secret-teacher-outstanding-inadequate-lesson-observations?CMP=new_54

This teacher was lucky as was I when a very similar incident happened to me. Thankfully a headteacher who knows the staff and school can make much better judgements.

At the time of my incident not only was I marked down by the lesson observer but was told to take a leaf out of one of my colleagues books. I was in disbelief, did he really mean the same colleague who before this planned pre-OFSTED observation had not planned but got myself and the head of department to do it for him, had the worst results of all of us and had the least respect of the students?

As you can imagine I did the same withdrew and wondered what to do, after a four page A4 handwritten letter to the headteacher and a subsequent interview I began to feel better, but all the time could not believe the system had let me and the school down so badly.

I keep reminding myself that, at the end of the day, I’m only in my second year of teaching. I will make mistakes in the classroom, miss things I should have picked up on and pitch the odd activity wrongly. But as long as my students are learning what they need to (and they are), my classroom is safe (and it is), and I am providing appropriate interventions for those children whose progress is less than ideal (which I am), then I know that I am doing my job – and doing it very well. Secret Teacher, Guardian

In my case I kept going for the students as for me that was why I was there, I believed in them and though sometimes I did things that were different (being the first female in the school teaching DT Resistant materials I had to sometimes), it was always about getting the best from my youngsters.

At the end of the year I was vindicated as my classes results were the best in the LA. To this day I have had no apology like the data protection act – everyone stood behind – it was what he saw in that 30 minute lesson! My classes results were also a shock in the wider area as we had many selective schools within our group, this gave me back my confidence.

Hence when this happened again a second time,  as before I had been observed by an external assessor as excellent then the next lesson observation made (by a consultant)  was equally as negative as the first about all aspects of the lesson, I could have been left thinking I was useless. What was equally interesting was the same lesson was observed weeks later by another teacher who didn’t change anything and they received a 1.  I realised the one thing that both the teachers who did really well had, that I didn’t, (and still don’t) is the gift of the gab. It was therefore at this point that I decided it was not worth worrying about as I knew my classes results were always the best, or in the top and that was my job.

Later on my confidence and experiences meant that I looked past lesson observation and looked for other things like genuine planning, understanding of curriculum areas, the rapport of the children and the work achieved to date, as well as observing over a period of time what is really happening in classrooms. In my consultants role to schools in Special Measures, serious weaknesses or needing improvement, I was always sad when the LA did not support the head, but used them as a scapegoat by sacking them. In my view this created even more confusion for everyone involved, it lowered the self-esteem of the whole building and anyone associated with it. It was like a fog over the whole area of the town.

Maybe this story will make people realise that one just one observation  can crush the very people we want to inspire and be role models to our learners, our parents and our communities. Using just one lesson observation as a yardstick for everything else is very dangerous. Having targets and expectations are great, but remember when writing or delivering any policy at the end of it there is a child or teacher doing their utmost.

As I go around schools now delivering EAL support I am very concerned that the new guidelines by OFSTED  (September  update) means that most schools will naturally fall by one grade due to the criteria. Where will it leave them?

These schools are doing the same as they always did, but suddenly they will find as it unravels that they are not at the top or are very close to needing some intervention. The only reason being because the criteria has changed, surely this isn’t a good enough reason to put more lives at risk of feeling inadequate, and all those mental health problem that then start feed into this system i.e. people with stress related illnesses, children self harming etc.

Only last week I was out with a group of people (supporting the national issue Time to change, Time to Talk). I began talking to one person who was at the time on their way to an appointment to their child’s school, they had been told their child will be excluded because they do not do failure. I was really surprised and ask for more detail but was then  horrified that  the school knew the child was self harming but their 99% pass rate was more important than the child just in case they had an OFSTED visit. Surely this is all the wrong way around, we have a duty to our children so lets start doing it.

What do you think?

“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

How does the bilingual brain store and process two languages? Is it the same or different from how it stores and processes one?

What a lovely start to the week a story that takes me back to my roots.  Weekly readers will know that my interest in bilingualism came when I left Wales due to employment and it was strange that everything was only in 1 langauge in England as well as there were no rugby posts in the fields. Added to the fact that my child was treated as monolingual despite coming directly from a Welsh Medium school and received no support yet if children came into her classroom from abroad there was more than ample provision.

So as you can imagine this story really caught my eye and is interesting as it explores bilingualism a little more to help us all understand the process better.

Recent studies conducted both internationally and here in Wales are showing  that having two languages can impact on the child’s language development,  general abilities, and health and wellbeing in ways that are unique to the  bilingual learner.

In terms of language abilities, some of our most recent research is looking  at the effects of language structure on children’s literacy and self-esteem,  with special focus on those who are learning Welsh and English.

Other studies have looked at young German-Welsh bilinguals’ emergent  grammars, looking for examples of German influence in their Welsh, and Welsh  influence in their German.

Mapping Welsh-English bilinguals’ development of vocabulary, reading and  grammar in Welsh and in English has allowed for a better understanding of the  impact of learning a second language on children’s development of their first  language.

Our results show that learning through the medium of Irish or Welsh at school  has no detrimental effects on children’s development of English.

In fact, the act of switching between two languages and of inhibiting the use  of one language whilst using the other provides the bilingual brain with a  certain level of flexibility that the monolingual brain has to work for in other  ways.

This has led bilinguals to demonstrate superior abilities on general  cognitive tasks that require certain types of processing – an advantage that  translates well into the classroom.

Our studies here in Wales are beginning to show some interesting patterns  that contribute to these findings.

Whether this advantage is present across the life-span for all Welsh-English  bilinguals is yet to be discovered, but should it lead to the delayed onset of  dementia, as demonstrated previously for bilinguals in Canada, the  identification of how, when and where this advantage is present is all the more  worthwhile.

Enlli Thomas is a senior lecturer in Bangor University. Her research looks at  language development and bilingualism in school children in Wales. She can be  contacted at enlli.thomas@bangor.ac.uk

Read more: Wales Online http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/health-news/2012/11/26/speaking-up-for-the-many-benefits-of-being-bilingual-91466-32304491/#ixzz2DJupoGQX

Keep up the research Enlli the more we understand the easier it is to help our students fit into this multilingual world.

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.

 

More than half of the world’s population is bilingual

Just thought I would share this research – its interesting reading. Professor Grosjean shares his views on misconceptions about bilingualism and bilinguals and also country specific attitudes.

By Professor Francois Grosjean

I have had the chance to live and work for extended periods of time in at least three countries, the United States, Switzerland and France, and as a researcher on bilingualism, it has allowed me to learn a lot about my topic of interest. I have found that people in these countries share many misconceptions about bilingualism and bilinguals but that they also have very country-specific attitudes towards them.

Among shared misunderstandings, one is that bilingualism is a rare phenomenon. In fact, it has been estimated that more than half of the world’s population is bilingual, that is uses two or more languages in everyday life. Bilingualism is found in all parts of the world, at all levels of society, in all age groups. Another common misconception is that bilinguals have equal knowledge of their languages. In fact, bilinguals know their languages to the level that they need them and many are dominant in one of them.

There are also the myths that real bilinguals do not have an accent in their different languages and that they are excellent all-around translators. This is far from being true. Having an accent or not does not make one more or less bilingual, and bilinguals often have difficulties translating specialized language.

Then there is the misconception that all bilinguals are bicultural (they are not) and that they have double personalities (as a bilingual myself, and with a sigh of relief, I can tell you that this is not the case).

As concerns children, many worries and misconceptions are also widespread. The first is that bilingualism will delay language acquisition in young children. This was a popular myth in the first part of the last century, but there is no research evidence to that effect. Their rate of language acquisition is the same as that of their monolingual counterparts.

There is also the fear that children raised bilingual will always mix their languages. In fact, they adapt to the situation they are in. When they interact in monolingual situations (e.g. with Grandma who doesn’t speak their other language), they will respond monolingually; if they are with other bilinguals, then they may well code-switch. Finally, there is the worry that bilingualism will affect negatively the cognitive development of bilingual children. Recent research appears to show the contrary; bilingual children do better than monolingual children in certain cognitive tasks.

Aside from these common misunderstandings, certain attitudes are specific to countries and areas of the world. In Europe, for example, bilingualism is seen favorably but people have very high standards for who should be considered bilingual. The latter should have perfect knowledge of their languages, have no accent in them, and even, in some countries, have grown up with their two (or more) languages. At that rate, very few people consider themselves bilingual even though, in Switzerland for example, the majority of the inhabitants know and use two or more languages in their everyday life.

How about the United States? Einar Haugen, a pioneer of bilingualism studies, has stated that the US has probably been the home of more bilingual speakers than any other country in the world. Bilingualism here is very diverse, pairing English with Native American languages, older colonial languages, recent immigration languages, and so on.

This said, it is not very extensive at any one time. Currently, only 17% of the population is bilingual as compared to much higher percentages in many other countries of the world. This is not due to the fact that new immigrants are not learning English. The reason, rather, is that bilingualism is basically short-lived and transitional in this country. For generations and generations of Americans, bilingualism has covered a brief period, spanning one or two generations, between monolingualism in a minority language and monolingualism in English.

The tolerance that America has generally shown towards minority languages over the centuries has favored the linguistic integration of its speakers. As sociologist Nathan Glazer writes, the language of minorities shriveled in the air of freedom while they had apparently flourished under adversity in Europe.

When presidential candidate Barak Obama stated that children should speak more than one language, he was probably referring to the paradox one finds in this country: on the one hand, the world’s languages brought to the United States are not maintained, and they wither away, and on the other hand only a few of them are taught in schools, to too few students, and for too short a time. A national resource “ the country’s knowledge of the languages of the world “ is being put aside and is not being maintained.

It is important to stop equating bilingualism with not knowing English and being un-American. Bilingualism means knowing and using at least two or more languages, one of which is English in the United States. Bilingualism allows you to communicate with different people and hence to discover different cultures, thereby giving you a different perspective on the world. It increases your job opportunities and it is an asset in trade and commerce. It also allows you to be an intermediary between people who do not share the same languages.

Bilingualism is a personal enrichment and a passport to other cultures. At the very least, and to return to Barak Obama’s comment, it certainly allows you to say more than merci beaucoup when interacting with someone of another language. One never regrets knowing several languages but one can certainly regret not knowing enough.

François Grosjean, the author of Bilingual: Life and Reality, received his degrees up to the Doctorat d’Etat from the University of Paris, France. He started his academic career at the University of Paris 8 and then left for the United-States in 1974 where he taught and did research in psycholinguistics at Northeastern University, Boston. While at Northeastern he was also a Research Affiliate at the Speech Communication Laboratory at MIT. In 1987, he was appointed professor at Neuchâtel University, Switzerland, where he founded the Language and Speech Processing Laboratory. He has lectured occasionally at the Universities of Basel, Zurich and Oxford. In 1998, he cofoundedBilingualism: Language and Cognition (Cambridge University Press). Visit his website at:www.francoisgrosjean.ch and his Psychology Today blog, Life as a bilingual, at: www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-bilingual.

Just interesting reading

teacherhead

This is an excellent book.  It is an attempt to distil the key messages from the vast array of studies that have been undertaken across the world into all the different factors that lead to educational achievement.  As you would hope and expect, the book contains details of the statistical methodology underpinning a meta-analysis and the whole notion of ‘effect size’ that drives the thinking in the book.  There is a discussion about what is measurable and how effect size can be interpreted in different ways. The key outcomes are interesting, suggesting a number of key factors that are likely to make the greatest impact in classrooms and more widely in the lives of learners.

My main interest here is to explore what Hattie says about homework.  This stems from a difficulty I have when I hear or read, fairly often, that ‘research shows that homework makes no difference’. It…

View original post 1,154 more words

Understanding Bilingual Education – research Continued.

A few posts ago I shared the thoughts and research and from the post you could work out what type of bilingual educational establishment you were.  It helped you work out whether you offer  additive or subtractive bilingual education.  The research by Steve McCarty, Professor, Osaka Jogakuin College and Osaka Jogakuin University is really easy to read and interesting at the same time.  This final part of his research offers a questionnaire from which you can gather more evidence about the type of establishment you are to enable you to move to the type of establishment you would like to be.

Worksheet to Analyze Cases of Bilingual Education
We (or I) think that…

  1. Leaders of the society see different languages in their communities as a [problem | resource | right | human right as well as a resource].
  2. The leaders are trying to [change | maintain | develop] the native language use of children.
  3. This education is for language [majority | minority | majority and minority] students.
  4. >Education for these students is mostly in their [native | second | foreign] language.
  5. This education is for the purpose of [assimilation of language minority students into the majority culture | separation of an ethnic group from the mainstream culture | maintenance of a minority or ethnic language | enrichment of language majority students | encouraging linguistic diversity and multiculturalism].
  6. The result of the educational system or outcome for students is [elite (or elective) | folk (or circumstantial) ] and [additive | subtractive | monolingualism, not a kind of] bilingualism.
  7. It is [a strong form | a weak form | not really a type] of bilingual education.
  8. This is because [students may be bilingual but their native language is not used in school | students learn all subjects in their native language | students take some foreign language classes taught in their native language | students learn in two languages but not enough to become bilingual | students can get enough input and interaction in both languages to become bilingual (and possibly bicultural) ].
  9. This type of bilingual education is [submersion | submersion with pull-out or sheltered second language classes | segregationist | transitional | mainstream with foreign language teaching | separatist | immersion | maintenance or heritage language | two-way or dual language | mainstream bilingual]. [If the program is not called Immersion, stop after item #9. If it is called Immersion, add item #10:]
  10. It is [actually enrichment, because the teaching is less than 50% in the second language | partial immersion | total immersion]. It is [not immersion | early immersion (starting around pre-school) | middle immersion (starting around the middle of elementary school) | late immersion (starting around junior high school)].

you can find the rest below or at: http://www.childresearch.net/papers/language/2012_03.html

Introduction to this paper

The aim of this final installment is to activate the information and analytical skills gained in these three papers through lesson plans. The process is to examine the languages used in school systems and to analyze those cases into types of bilingual education. Ten cases are first given, and experience with university classes has shown that there is enough information in these papers for most students to correctly classify the cases into types of bilingual education. The important thing to learn is not the answers to these cases but rather to gain the analytical skills, such as to infer the cause-and-effect relationships between the aims of decision-makers in a society and the type of education that results. In not only these realistic cases but in any situation in the world where enough information is available about the languages used in schools, the whole chain of causation between a cultural way of thinking and actual classroom practices can be discerned.

Lesson Plans to Analyze Cases of Language Use in Schools into Types of Bilingual Education

As a series of class lessons, students first learn and discuss the list of ten “Varying Aims of Bilingual Education” presented earlier. For example, which aims do learners think are beneficial for the whole society? A more advanced activity would be to predict what types of bilingual education or school systems might result from the different aims. Students then use the chart of ten “Types of Bilingual Education” along with the list of ten aims and the further criteria in the worksheet at the end of this paper to analyze the ten “Cases of Languages involved in Education.” The list of aims and the chart of types handed out to students in the author’s classes are bilingual in English and Japanese, adapted from Baker (2001) and Oka (1996), to lighten the cognitive load of undergraduates and to reduce lecturing time. An alternative activity for seminars or conferences would be for individuals to describe the medium of instruction in a school system they know in another region of the world, and then the group could analyze it by the criteria in these papers.

The first chart in this paper describes ten realistic cases in Japan and the world where different languages are connected to an educational system, whether all the pertinent languages are used in the schools or not. That is, the worksheet to follow will allow for the conclusion that a system called bilingual education by local or national authorities is, besides the ten types, not actually bilingual education at all, chiefly because there is only one medium of instruction. The basic exercise of this paper is to use the list of ten aims, the chart of ten types of bilingual education, and the worksheet with ten items to classify the ten cases below into types of bilingual education.

Cases of Languages involved in Education
  1. Native speakers of Japanese start studying English in the 5th grade of elementary school and several hours a week from junior high school. This is because English as an International Language may be valuable for their future studies and career.
  2. Immigrants from South America and Asia are working in a small city in Japan where there are not many other foreigners. Their children can study only in regular public school classes.
  3. There are Korean and Chinese ethnic schools in Japan. They teach Korean or Chinese language and culture. Including Japanese and some English, students may become bilingual or multilingual to some extent.
  4. An American Indian tribe tries to keep their children in their home region, to protect their language and culture, so they teach subjects mostly through their native language, using some English where it is necessary.
  5. In some areas of Africa, black Africans are isolated from government support and suffer from problems like child labor. Their children do not have the choice to study in a regional or international language like Swahili, Arabic, French or English, which could lift them out of poverty. Such African villages must try to conduct their own education in their native language.
  6. Many Canadian Inuit wish to maintain their native language and culture, but also to trade with others in North America. The government recognizes their right to keep their native language and helps their children learn English along with their native language.
  7. Most Canadians speak English, but people in the province of Quebec are mostly native speakers of French. Canada has a bilingual and multicultural policy with both English and French as official languages. Many schools in Quebec conduct classes in English at least half of the time.
  8. Mexican immigrants to the United States are often seen as having difficulty in school and adjusting to American society because they speak Spanish. Many of their children are therefore taught in simple English or regularly taken out of mainstream classes for lessons in English as a Second Language (ESL).
  9. Uyghur children receive education only in Chinese. The government has called it “bilingual education” in a press release that appeared in international news. Recently Uyghur students have been urged to live in dormitories at school and see their parents mostly during vacations.
  10. A small number of American schools form classes with about half English and half Spanish native speakers (or native speakers of other languages, including Japanese). The two languages are alternated in the curriculum, both cultures are valued, and the students can help each other.

Finally, the following worksheet can be used to analyze salient factors involved in any school system and, referring to the previous charts in these three papers, reach a conclusion as to what type of bilingual education the case may represent. The author developed this worksheet to lighten the cognitive load for second and third year university students in bilingualism and bilingual education classes to analyze cases of languages involved in education by just selecting among the choices in boldface type. By simply circling their choices on the worksheet, the students can make a paragraph analyzing any number of cases. Students can work in groups, with one person saying their analysis out loud to the whole class, starting with “We think that …” In this way, second to fourth year students majoring in English usually reach a reasonable conclusion as to the type of bilingual education.

Worksheet to Analyze Cases of Bilingual Education
We (or I) think that…

  1. Leaders of the society see different languages in their communities as a [problem | resource | right | human right as well as a resource].
  2. The leaders are trying to [change | maintain | develop] the native language use of children.
  3. This education is for language [majority | minority | majority and minority] students.
  4. >Education for these students is mostly in their [native | second | foreign] language.
  5. This education is for the purpose of [assimilation of language minority students into the majority culture | separation of an ethnic group from the mainstream culture | maintenance of a minority or ethnic language | enrichment of language majority students | encouraging linguistic diversity and multiculturalism].
  6. The result of the educational system or outcome for students is [elite (or elective) | folk (or circumstantial) ] and [additive | subtractive | monolingualism, not a kind of] bilingualism.
  7. It is [a strong form | a weak form | not really a type] of bilingual education.
  8. This is because [students may be bilingual but their native language is not used in school | students learn all subjects in their native language | students take some foreign language classes taught in their native language | students learn in two languages but not enough to become bilingual | students can get enough input and interaction in both languages to become bilingual (and possibly bicultural) ].
  9. This type of bilingual education is [submersion | submersion with pull-out or sheltered second language classes | segregationist | transitional | mainstream with foreign language teaching | separatist | immersion | maintenance or heritage language | two-way or dual language | mainstream bilingual]. [If the program is not called Immersion, stop after item #9. If it is called Immersion, add item #10:]
  10. It is [actually enrichment, because the teaching is less than 50% in the second language | partial immersion | total immersion]. It is [not immersion | early immersion (starting around pre-school) | middle immersion (starting around the middle of elementary school) | late immersion (starting around junior high school)].

Items 1 and 2 in the worksheet focus attention on the motives of decision-makers faced with different native languages of students in their schools. The first one examines their attitudes, adapted from Ruiz (1984), who held that authorities view language as a problem, resource, or right, with very different policies following from these views. The author sees “language,” which can mean so many things, as referring in this case to different languages in contact or occupying the same space, while, similarly, “right” can more precisely draw from United Nations human rights agreements pertaining to native languages, and from scholarship on linguistic human rights (Skuttnabb-Kangas & Phillipson, 1995). These also bear on the right of authorities in the second item to alter the language use of children rather than maintaining or, in the best scenario for the student, developing L1, which can bolster L2 development as well.

Items 3 and 4 clarify the profile of the students involved from their perspective. Item 5 clarifies the purpose or aim of a school system more specifically in line with the criteria for types of bilingual education. Item 6 probes the likely results or outcomes of a school system for students in terms of types of bilingualism. Briefly, elite bilingualism is for the fortunate majority by choice, hence it is also called elective, whereas folk bilingualism is a common situation that immigrants and minorities find themselves in, not of their own choice, hence it is also called circumstantial (cf. McCarty, 2010, for further details). Additive bilingualism is where the L2 is acquired with no cost to the L1 and therefore beneficial to the person, which is generally the case with enrichment or strong forms of bilingual education. Whereas subtractive bilingualism means that L2 replaces L1, which is detrimental to the person cognitively, and can alienate children from parents and relatives who speak only the L1. Item 6 also includes the option of concluding that the school system is not a case of bilingual education at all, usually because having only one medium of instruction tends to lead toward students remaining or becoming monolingual. The elite/folk distinction often maps onto the additive/subtractive outcome, but there are exceptions such as Separatist bilingual education, so the item is expressed as it is to cover as much as possible the different types of bilingual education.

With item 7 the type of bilingual education can be narrowed down to weak, strong, or monolingual, based on analyzing the previous criteria such as the likely learning outcomes, regardless of what a school system claims to practice. Item 8 offers a range of specific reasons for the item 7 selection and, together with other criteria, leads to the conclusion of the analysis in item 9, namely the type of bilingual education the case represents.

One further option is to add an item 10 for cases where an educational program is called immersion. That is to say, immersion programs have been shown to be effective, but because they are popular and sound attractive, it is not uncommon for school programs to inaccurately claim to be practicing immersion or bilingual education generally, either due to lack of specialized knowledge or because many of the students entering their schools speak different languages or are already bilingual. The strong forms of bilingual education would develop both languages in any case by using at least two languages as the medium of instruction.

Conclusion to the three papers on Bilingual Education

In conclusion, by learning the criteria and analytical skills introduced in these three papers, and completing the worksheet with ten items utilizing the list of ten aims and the chart of ten types, various school systems, such as the ten cases represent, can be analyzed into types of bilingual education.

References

How Often Are English-Learners Suspended?

This is on the one hand really good to know that in other countries they have the same problems but on the other hand sad that children are being penalised over communication problems that adults have with children, but children do not have with adults.

“It is possible with todays technologies to be able to practice a language to either keep it  or learn it using our online software,” said Director John Foxwell of EMASUK, “but still teachers are reluctant to do this.” It is an indictment of our society that although with this communication breakthrough it is possible to talk to the child/parent in your language and get it spoken out in English/ or other languages at half the price of the use of interpreters/translators and telephone services, which creates a more trusted discussion where when used well allows both teacher and parent/learner to feel secure the more costly option, which means waiting hours for the translator/interpreter to turn up is still preferred.

http://www.emasuk.com/page/eal/208/i-can-talk-to – for EMASUK’s new communication tool

This latest news from America asks that there are more records of how often communication/language problems lead to students being excluded.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/learning-the-language/2012/08/how_often_are_english-learners.html

Today, researchers at UCLA’s Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, released an analysis of federal education data on out-of-school suspensions that paints a sobering picture for students who are African-American, Latino, or enrolled in special education programs. Using data collected from more than 6,800 school districts by the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights, the researchers found that one in six African-American students was suspended from school at least once during the 2009-10 school year. The rate for Native American students was one in 12; for Latino students, it was one in 14. For whites, it was one in 20, and for Asian Americans, the rate was one in 50. My colleague Nirvi Shah and I wrote a story about the report that you can read on edweek.org. The Civil Rights Project report also highlights the high rates of suspension for students with disabilities, with African-American students with disabilities most subjected to the out-of-school discipline. One in four black children with disabilities were suspended in 2009-10, the researchers found. Unfortunately, the report does not analyze suspension rates for English-language learners. The researchers said that ELLs are already counted among students by race and ethnicity, but there was no disaggregated data, for example, to show what percentage of Latino ELLs were suspended. They also said that while there are anecdotes of high suspension rates for ELLs in some districts, the majority of school districts reported no suspensions at all for them. The report does include data reported to OCR for ELL suspensions in spreadsheets (labeled as LEP), including numbers for this subgroup from the 100 largest districts in the country. Los Angeles Unified, home to the largest population of English-learners, suspended 5.5 percent of such students. The authors said they would provide an analysis on ELL suspensions once they resolve their questions about the data. Certainly, educators and policymakers need to know what the actual rates are for these kids, who can little afford to be missing out on precious instructional time.

Research shows that Bilingual children have “an aptitude for selective attention” and an ability to filter and focus on information.

Further to the last story this from the BBC highlights the demonstrable benefits whilst challenging the sceptics view that it (bilingualism) can be confusing, and so potentially detrimental to them (the learners).

Bilingual children outperform children who speak only one language in problem-solving skills and creative thinking, according to a new study.Researchers set lingual, arithmetical and physical tasks for 121 children, aged about nine, in Scotland and Sardinia, Italy. They found that the 62 bilingual children were “significantly more successful in the tasks set for them“.

The study has been published in the International Journal of Bilingualism.

The Glasgow-based children spoke English and Gaelic, or English only, while the Sardinian cohort spoke either Italian only, or Italian and Sardinian.

Gaelic ‘advantage’

They were asked to reproduce patterns of coloured blocks, to repeat orally a series of numbers, to give clear definitions of words and to resolve mentally a set of arithmetic problems. The tasks were all set in English or Italian.

Researchers found that the bilingual children were “significantly more successful in the tasks set for them”.

There was a marked difference in the level of detail and richness in description from the bilingual pupils”

 Dr Fraser Lauchlan Strathclyde University

They observed that the Gaelic-speaking children were more successful than the Sardinian speakers.

The differences were linked to the mental alertness required to switch between languages, which could develop skills useful in other types of thinking.

The study found that the further advantage for Gaelic-speaking children may have been due to the formal teaching of the language and its extensive literature.

Sardinian is not widely taught in schools on the Italian island and has a largely oral tradition, which means there is currently no standardised form of the language.

The study was conducted by Strathclyde University with colleagues from the University of Cagliari in Sardinia. It was led by Dr Fraser Lauchlan, an honorary lecturer at Strathclyde’s school of psychological sciences.

He said: “Bilingualism is now largely seen as being beneficial to children but there remains a view that it can be confusing, and so potentially detrimental to them.

‘Demonstrable benefits’

“Our study has found that it can have demonstrable benefits, not only in language but in arithmetic, problem solving and enabling children to think creatively.

“We also assessed the children’s vocabulary, not so much for their knowledge of words as their understanding of them. Again, there was a marked difference in the level of detail and richness in description from the bilingual pupils.”

Dr Lauchlan said that the bilingual children were seen to have “an aptitude for selective attention” and an ability to filter and focus on information which is important.

It is thought that this may come from the “code-switching” of thinking in two different languages.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-19109883

Another story about this can be found at http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=EN_NEWS&ACTION=D&SESSION=&RCN=34907