The Multilingual World of Irish Dance

What a brilliant observation and just why bilingualism and being able to speak languages can be really important to children and young people. There are those that believe the later you leave it to learn a language the better whereas in reality the younger the better and using it in context is the best way to go.

on raising bilingual children

Over the weekend, I spent many hours running the canteen at an Irish dance “Feis”. My daughter is a dancer, and every year they host a competition, attracting dancers from various parts of Europe. Over the weekend, I spoke to people from Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Finland, England, Ireland, the US and Canada. The most satisfying part of the experience was being able to help people in their own language. People say that English is the global language, and that if you speak English you don’t need anything else. I disagree, and this weekend was a good example of why. When people approached my canteen counter, I could often tell they were hesitant to order – worried about which language to use, and not wanting to get it wrong. I quickly figured out that the best way to put them at ease was to offer “English, francais or nederlands?”. I…

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Consultation – draft National Curriculum programmes of study

Yesterday the government in the UK put out a draft National Curriculum consultation.  One of the programmes of study included is Foreign Languages at KS2 and 3.

Here is a brief summary of what is says please do join the consultation and let them know as teachers what you think.

Consultation – draft National Curriculum programmes of study:
Draft 2014 National Curriculum by subject

Learning a foreign language is a liberation from insularity and provides and opening into other cultures. A high quality language education should foster pupils’ curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world.

Language teaching should provide the foundation for learning further languages equipping pupils to study and work in other countries.

Teaching should focus on enabling pupils to make substantial progress in one of the following languages French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish, Latin or Ancient Greek.  (No mention of sign language)

Teaching should provide a balance of written and spoken and lay the foundations for further foreign language teaching. It should enable pupils to understand and communicate ideas, facts and feelings in speech and writing, focused on familiar and routine matters, using their knowledge of phonology, grammatical structures and vocabulary.

The focus of study in Modern languages (ML) will be on practical communication whilst the focus in Latin or ancient Greek will be to provide a linguistic foundation for learning modern languages and for reading comprehension.

I think I have blogged before that I learnt French at LLantarnam school but what I probably haven’t said before was that I studied French from yr 7 to 11, German yr 8-9 and Latin yr 9-11. All from a ‘bog standard Comprehensive’. This built on my bilingual assemblies, signage and occasional lesson in primary school in Welsh.

I don’t think without my expectation for another language to always be present that I would have taken up the languages so easily in my secondary years.  Without the teacher enthusiasm of taking myself and a few friends who sung at a French singing competition where we competed against A level students I would have been disinterested.

What is also abundantly clear to me now is that the Latin that I learnt has probably been the thing that I fall back on and use the most. It is this linguistic background that I can work out words in other languages and have confidence to try.  NB I find that in my work with so many languages on a  daily basis it is actually Italian that I wish now I had learnt as every time I look at it I feel comfortable and it seems natural. Yet as a teenager I would never have even thought of learning it.

So for me these changes are welcome as long as we always remember there are children at the end of any policy/strategy that we deliver to teachers and pupils. A teacher interested in a language is far more motivating and inspiring than one who wishes they could teach Spanish yet are teaching French because of the outdated belief that well if you know one language you must be able to do this as they are only children. I think the tide is turning on this one and its nice to also see a recognition that currently Chinese is the largest language in the world so that to equip our youngsters for the world of work it gives them a real chance to be a global citizen.

138,000 speak no English – census UK

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

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

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

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

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

Furthermore the statistics show that:

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

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

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

Of those with a main language other than English,

1.7 million could speak  English very well,

1.6 million could speak English well, and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEAST BORN ABROAD

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

MOST BORN ABROAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

Languages are always needed but what were last years top 10?

After reblogging the T index from I talk you talk languages I decided to do some more research to find out what the index was. It seems that over the years T-Index has created a statistical index that combines the Internet population and its estimated GDP per capita. This in turn assists companies in identifying their target markets and in selecting the right languages to translate their websites. This helps businesses ensure online success and increase localization-derived revenue. as a language learner knowing which are the most sought after languages can improve job prospects globally as well as locally.

For lay people like myself interested in languages. looking at the language needs on a  world basis rather than a county, area or country basis opens up a whole new set of questions and also creates a greater awareness of the languages currently most people are using.

The index shows that in 2012 the top 21

2012 Data summary | NEW!

Sort by Country Sort by Language Sort by Region

Trend* Countries T-Index
2012
Projection
2016
Languages Internet population Internet
penetration
GDP p.c. of Int. pop.**

1

USA 22.5% 15.6% 1collapse this section 245,203,319 78.1% $58,751

2

China (!) 13.5% 20.1% 1collapse this section 538,000,000 40.1% $16,133

3

Japan 6.3% 4.6% 1collapse this section 101,228,736 79.5% $39,863

4

Germany 4.6% 3.9% 1collapse this section 67,483,860 83.0% $43,476

5

UK 3.4% 2.6% 1collapse this section 52,731,209 83.6% $41,654
Localizing a website for these 5 markets gives you access to 50% of the worldwide online sales potential.

6

France 3.4% 3.2% 1collapse this section 52,228,905 79.6% $41,580

7

Brazil 3.1% 4.3% 1collapse this section 88,494,756 44.4% $22,265

8

Russia 2.9% 3.6% 1collapse this section 67,982,547 47.7% $27,362

9

South Korea 2.4% 2.1% 1collapse this section 40,329,660 82.5% $37,667

10

Italy 2.3% 1.3% 1collapse this section 35,800,000 58.4% $41,797

11

Canada 2.1% 1.6% 2collapse this section 28,469,069 83.0% $46,743

12

Mexico 2.0% 2.0% 1collapse this section 42,000,000 36.5% $30,078

13

Spain 2.0% 1.8% 2collapse this section 31,606,233 67.2% $39,625

14

India 1.8% 2.3% 2collapse this section 137,000,000 11.4% $8,411

15

Australia 1.4% 1.1% 1collapse this section 19,554,832 88.8% $45,848

16

Turkey 1.3% 1.7% 1collapse this section 36,455,000 45.7% $23,524

17

Taiwan 1.3% 1.1% 1collapse this section 17,530,000 75.4% $48,268

18

Iran (!) 1.2% 1.8% 1collapse this section 42,000,000 53.3% $18,351

19

Netherlands 1.1% 0.93% 1collapse this section 15,549,787 92.9% $45,192

20

Argentina 1.1% 1.4% 1collapse this section 28,000,000 66.4% $24,485

21

Poland 1.0% 1.3% 1collapse this section 24,940,902 64.9% $26,889

see more at – http://www.translated.net/en/languages-that-matter

If however we look at 2005 it tells a different story and shows how the world is developing. China for example is lower down the list and the UK is higher consistent with the world trend of Chinese manufacturing being more dominant in today’s world.

T-Index data summary 2005

Sort by language Sort by country Sort by region

Countries T-Index Cumulative
T-Index
Languages Internet population Internet penetration GDP p.c. of Int. pop.*
 

Here is their prediction for 2015.Unsurprisingly China is now greater and the UK has fallen way behind.

2015 projection of the 10 langauges with the highest potential for online sales.

1 USA 33.9% 33.891% 1collapse this section 203,576,811 68.8 % $54,872
2 Japan 8.9% 42.809% 1collapse this section 78,050,000 61.3 % $37,663
3 Germany 5.7% 48.504% 1collapse this section 47,127,725 57.2 % $39,833
4 UK 4.9% 53.440% 1collapse this section 37,800,000 62.5 % $43,041
5 France 3.6% 57.074% 1collapse this section 25,614,899 42.2 % $46,759
6 Italy 3.6% 60.664% 1collapse this section 28,870,000 49.7 % $40,989
7 China (!) 3.1% 63.729% 1collapse this section 103,000,000 7.9 % $9,807
8 Canada 2.9% 66.582% 2collapse this section 20,450,000 62.3 % $45,988
9 South Korea 2.8% 69.381% 1collapse this section 32,570,000 67.0 % $28,325
10 Spain 2.2% 71.552% 2collapse this section 16,129,731 40.0 % $44,370
11 Russia (!) 2.0% 73.518% 1collapse this section 22,300,000 15.5 % $29,051
12 Mexico 1.8% 75.333% 1collapse this section 16,995,400 16.0 % $35,207
13 Australia 1.8% 77.146% 1collapse this section 13,991,612 69.6 % $42,698
14 Brazil 1.7% 78.838% 1collapse this section 22,320,000 12.0 % $24,993
15 Taiwan 1.5% 80.385% 1collapse this section 13,800,000 60.3 % $36,954
16 Netherlands 1.4% 81.834% 1collapse this section 10,806,328 65.9 % $44,186
17 Turkey (!) 0.84% 82.677% 1collapse this section 10,220,000 14.7 % $27,181
18 Poland 0.80% 83.477% 1collapse this section 10,600,000 27.5 % $24,901
19 Sweden 0.79% 84.272% 1collapse this section 6,800,000 75.5 % $38,509
20 Belgium 0.70% 84.976% 2collapse this section 5,100,000 49.2 % $45,480
21 Switzerland 0.68% 85.651% 3collapse this section 4,836,671 64.6 % $46,05

Suffolk: Judge left frustrated as translator’s absence delays justice

Is this fair to the victim? is this fair to companies that could do a better job? Is this fair to the judge?  When will the government intervene?

A JUDGE has expressed his frustration with a court interpreter system after a hearing had to be adjourned when a translator failed to attend a Suffolk court.

Ipswich Crown Court judge David Goodin said he was “astounded” at the non-attendance of a Bengali interpreter who had been booked by the court to act as translator for a 27-year-old man accused of attempting to rape a woman in an alleyway in Newmarket in August.

“Astonishingly and disgracefully for justice, no interpreter has appeared and in these circumstances we can’t make any progress with the case today,” said the judge. “This is yet another example of interpreters failing to appear.”

Judge Goodin was forced to adjourn the plea and direction hearing until today after court staff were unable to ascertain the whereabouts of the translator.

The case is the latest example of problems courts around the country have had in getting interpreters since Applied Language Solutions took over a Government contract in January.

Earlier this year the Ministry of Justice accepted there had been problems with the court interpreter system in the first few weeks of the contract but claimed the situation had improved.

Before Ipswich Crown Court yesterday was Jakir Hussain, of Bahram Close, Newmarket, who is accused of attempting to rape a 24-year-old woman in an alleyway between the High Street and Rowley Drive in August.

http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/suffolk_judge_left_frustrated_as_translator_s_absence_delays_justice_1_1734842

“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

Tips for raising bilingual children – Early Years

It’s always the simple things that make you think and this story gives some good tips of raising bilingual children from ensuring if you are using childminders or childcare use those who speak the language you are introducing.

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/11/28/living/parenting-bilingual-children/

If you’ve ever thought about raising your kid to be multilingual, now’s the
perfect time to start. “Babies are wired for language,” says Naomi Steiner M.D.

 

“The earlier they’re introduced to a second language, the easier it will be for them to pick it up.” Knowing a second (or third!) language could one day give your child an edge in an increasingly global workforce. And that isn’t the only
plus, says Dr. Steiner. “When these children get to school age, they tend to have superior reading and writing skills in both languages, as well as better analytical and academic skills,” she explains.

 

In addition to using foreign language gear, hire a babysitter who speaks another
tongue, secure bilingual daycare or arrange playdates with bilingual families.
Benton’s ex-husband worked in Spanish-speaking communities, so he asked clients
for sitter recommendations.

 

 

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.

Being Bilingual gives me a chance to keep my identity.

An interesting news item about bilingualism.

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

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

I would also agree with their teacher when he says …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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