Vocational and academic education will only be valued equally when they are equally valuable.

I was very interested in this speech this week.  It touches on the changes to education with the Butler Act and then to modern day.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-skills-summit-importance-of-technical-and-vocational-training

I have been an advocate of vocational and academic education being equally valued since my late teens. This was when I realised that my teachers were suggesting I studied economics, history and geography for A level and couldn’t see why I wanted to do woodwork and technical drawing, despite being involved with preparation for my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award where I chose practical options that I passed successfully at every stage.

In later years as a teacher in charge of a large group of over 200 children with very diverse skills and abilities I worked around the legislation at the time to ensure my children got the best for them to reach their potential. By the end of year 11 20 of my students had studied more technically practical subjects as well as the statutory English, Maths and Science. The subjects ranged from bricklaying to  painting and decorating.

Despite previous reservations it was recognised that the attendance and enjoyment of school improved and the young people left school with good results and in most cases ready made jobs in their chosen profession. They also had access to further training similar to todays modern apprenticeship. In comparison those who stayed on the traditional route found gaining jobs more tricky and two years down the line one of the original group was sponsored to a university place relating to the built environment.

For me its about Every child mattering –  as the saying goes – join this together with us needing to create wealth to ensure our economy grows and jobs for our young people to allow them to look after their families.

In my local area we are soon to see the University Technical College’s (UTC)  Engineering, Water and the Environment  planning application come into play as its journey to completion moves along. http://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=20814

A pre-planning consultation will now be held for local residents on Wednesday 5th February, 5-6.30pm, at Old Forde House, with the planning application being submitted during February.

Join the journey and follow its progress to ensure our young people really matter as individuals.

Advertisements

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.

Update on machine translation services

Intel discuss their translation services

Intel doesn’t develop its own machine translation systems. We utilize  commercially available technology or technology  to create  our capability.

They see the following areas developing the use of these machine translation services.

Social Media is going to grow tremendously and machine  translation capability, in terms of supporting a global audience, is going to  become more and more important.

The other area is the phone environment. I see a lot of growing focus in that  area. This is not only from a commercial point of view, but also from the point  of view of government and the military.  A lot of the initial research on  all of this technology has been done by the U.S. military and the intelligence  community. The intelligence community had developed some mobile technology for  the field, where an English-speaking agent can go in and have a conversation  with an Arabic-speaking Iraqi. As long as they kept to some basic, simple  sentences, they could have a real-time conversation in the field with this  technology.

Read more at http://www.business2community.com/mobile-apps/making-a-mobile-translation-app-0396747#qSVG93aDBesgvtzH.99

I think that these systems will be integrated into all areas of translation as time and the development of these apps improves.

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

Literacy is everyones job.

When I am in schools particularly those where they are not outstanding and when you ask them about literacy of the pupils they say ‘ oh, that is so and so’s job,’ or ‘its X, Y or Z’s department’.  Even more interesting is that they cannot see that every encounter with them is an opportunity to support the childs learning.

As a teacher you cannot absolve yourself by saying literacy or numeracy is not my job. Within each different subject there are words that are specific that the children need to read and understand. It’s not about the literacy coordinators job or the English departments job but each individual teachers job to equip the child with the skills they need and if this means more literacy in context or numeracy examples out of math specific sessions then it is our duty to do this.

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

Which is worse incompetent translators and interpreters or Statistical Machine Translation?

Following from the legal story last week here is another

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2237656/Trials-collapse-interpreter-shortage-cripples-court–reliance-Google-Translate-putting-public-safety-risk.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

Well worth the debate especially if this is true.  Interestingly they say Google was used but don’t say if it achieved its objective, although they criticised it yet haven’t backed it up.

Which is worse the stories below or a comparatively crude and time-consuming online translation service?

Standards were allegedly so lax at the firm that  a director of another translation company was able to sign up his cat Masha as  an ALS translator – and the cat was offered jobs.

Magistrates have lodged more than 5,000  complaints against the firm after it failed to send interpreters to a fifth of  trials, sent people speaking the wrong language, or translators who are simply  incompetent. In one case the defendant’s wife acted as an interpreter.

In another, ALS sent a Romanian to translate  instead of a Roma speaker. The full depth of the scandal emerged in submissions  to a justice select committee inquiry.

MPs were told that a murder trial went ahead  with a beautician translating, even though she did not understand the words  ‘friction’ or ‘deterioration’.

In one case in Ipswich in March, the failure of  a Lithuanian interpreter to appear meant that Google Translate, a comparatively  crude and time-consuming online translation service, had to be used.

Some interpreters are refusing to work alone, insisting they need two interpreters on hand.

I believe in justice and fairness but maybe this is taking it a little too far, and for it to halt court proceedings, never mind the costs of the time when having to start and restart a trial, but all the costs of having two translators when they are not needed. It’s also a little suspect that only the Spanish interpreters need two.  What does everyone else think?

http://www.myfoxboston.com/story/20131534/2012/11/18/court-interpreters-working-in-pairs-halt-court-proceedings

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.

The ability to speak Welsh is not a burden. On the contrary, it is an expressway to cognitive development.

Recently a local Welsh paper shared  story that suggests Welsh speakers are reducing in Wales, but this local person shares statistics that Welsh-speaking is increasing and

that being bilingual is not a burden…It’s a doorway to a multilingual world where the advantage of early bilingualism can be translated into skills in a multitude of languages, placing the Welsh workforce at a great advantage in comparison to our monoglot friends.

Do you agree?

http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/Bilingualism-opens-doors/story-17194411-detail/story.html