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

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

http://mg.co.za/article/2012-10-19-multilingual-degree-opens-up-new-world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ofsted | Good practice resource – Outstanding achievement for pupils learning English as an additional language: Greet Primary School

Pupils learning English as an additional language do exceptionally well at Greet Primary School because the outstanding teaching they receive throughout the school is complemented by high-quality support and a language-rich curriculum. As a result, pupils develop highly advanced writing skills.

Well I wont say I told you so because in fact I am relieved. I have always advocated the use of the first language to gain a second language particularly where there are new arrivals in schools, but my peers and supposedly betters constantly said “no teach them English the ESOL way, as it’s the only way”. This has led to some levelling criticism that we don’t know what we are doing as they have always done it this way. It always seemed pointless to me to take a learner (any learner) and treat them as though they know nothing, when in reality what they don’t know is the correct word in the common language of the area. To me we just need to bridge the gap.

Having children in my class that needed to know how to saw wood safely, or answer an English question about the class reader or poetry, it seemed ridiculous to start teaching them words similar to the learn Spanish CD’s.  What my learners needed to succeed was contextual focus academic word transference that took their prior learning, no matter how young or old they were and use this to close the gap, until they caught up, because catch up they do and achieved university places.

So it is great to see this story about a school in Birmingham who have helped turn the tide by embracing bilingualism and achieving an excellent rating in their recent OFSTED visit.

To quote OFSTED from their glossy brochure:

‘Bilingualism (at Greet Primary) is viewed as a huge asset and we value and promote the importance of pupils’ home languages.’
One of the strategies teaching assistants employ is pre-tutoring pupils in
their home language before the start of a lesson so that pupils will know what
is expected of them when the activity is introduced. Buddies who speak the same
home language are attached to new arrivals. A recent new arrival says: ‘It was
great having people who could speak Urdu to me as I couldn’t speak English at
first.’

Well Done to all within the school and I hope to bring even more news of success as the blog grows.

To see the whole report go to

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/good-practice-resource-outstanding-achievement-for-pupils-learning-english-additional-language-greet

Pupils learning English as an additional language do exceptionally well at Greet Primary School because the outstanding teaching they receive throughout the school is complemented by high-quality support and a language-rich curriculum. As a result, pupils develop highly advanced writing skills.

Geddes Elementary: Dual Language Early On Reaps Benefits Later

I thought I had posted this last week but the letter gremlins seem to have taken it away into space.

“It’s important for me, because my children are from here. I’m from Mexico, and I want them to know their origins,” said Ana Lepe, speaking in Spanish. The 40-year-old mother of three has sent all of her children to Geddes because she also believes being bilingual will help them get better jobs in the future.

I liked this story because this school is obviously one where bilingualism is really treasured and supported by all within the community. Once again the question of jobs when the children reach school-leaving age are a focus, but sadly this is often forgotten by the policy makers.

What is useful for teachers is If you go through the links there is also a video showing how some of this is achieved.

“There’s a lot of research now that shows that dual-immersion programs/bilingual programs are teaching kids to read better,” she added.

One reason the dual-language program works at Geddes is because it’s one part of a strong academic structure, school officials say. Castro is obsessed with data: Teachers give assessments every two weeks in math and reading to see how their students are progressing and where they might need help.

As bi-literacy starts to become popular and general literacy is a focus in both USA and UK schools there are some lessons that can be definitely learnt from this school. Especially those wishing to become strong free bilingual schools.

The initial news story is interesting but if you go into the school website there are some amazing facts about their achievements.

http://www.educationnation.com/casestudies/geddes/index.html

10 % OF PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS ARE ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS.

The Challenge: For English Language Learners, mastering the language is even more difficult if they struggle with their first language.
The Solution: At Geddes Elementary School in Baldwin Park, Calif., young students in the dual-language program are taught in Spanish 90% of the day until third grade. This approach has led to significant achievement gains, with 60% of third-graders scoring proficient or above in English language arts in 2011.

RESULTS: TEST SCORES

Geddes Elementary School’s API score (California’s system for rating schools based on reading and math test scores) rose from 678 to 838 over four years, exceeding the state target of 800. Proficiency on English language arts tests doubled to 62 percent, and the percentage of the school’s students who are proficient in math rose by half, to 74 percent.

RESULTS: ATTENDANCE & DISCIPLINE

In the 2005-06 school year, 391 students (out of 901) had unexcused absences or were tardy at least three times at Geddes. The truancy rate was 43 percent. In 2010-11, by contrast, 192 students (out of 703) had unexcused absences or were frequently tardy. The truancy rate fell to 27 percent.

RESULTS: PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT

Parental participation went from only a handful of parents regularly visiting the school to between 40 and 50 attending monthly meetings with the principal.

The original news story can be found here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48897100/ns/today-education_nation/

The school information can be found here:

http://www.educationnation.com/casestudies/geddes/index.html

 

Is your school really bilingual or monolingual in disguise?

Great piece of research about the type of schools that support monolingualism despite advocating their support of bilingualism. The research was done in Japan by Steve McCarty, Professor, Osaka Jogakuin College and Osaka Jogakuin University

Which is your school? Look at the table to discover which type your school is.

Types of Bilingual Education

Type of ProgramTypical StudentsLanguages used in the Classroom Educational/ Societal AimLanguage Outcome
Weak Forms of Bilingual Education *
SUBMERSION     (Structured immersion) Language Minority Majority Language Assimilation Monolingualism
SUBMERSION with withdrawal classes / sheltered English Language Minority Majority Language with pull-out L2 ** lessons [held in a different location] Assimilation Monolingualism
SEGREGATIONIST Language Minority Minority Language (forced, no choice) Apartheid Monolingualism
TRANSITIONAL Language Minority Moves from Minority to Majority Language Assimilation Relative Monolingualism
MAINSTREAM with Foreign Language Teaching Language Majority Majority Language with L2/FL ** Lessons Limited Enrichment Limited Bilingualism
SEPARATIST Language Minority Minority Language (out of choice) Detachment / Autonomy Limited Bilingualism
Type of ProgramTypical StudentsLanguages used in the Classroom Educational/ Societal AimLanguage Outcome
Strong Forms of Bilingual Education
IMMERSION Language Majority Bilingual with initial emphasis on L2 ** Pluralism / Enrichment Bilingualism & Biliteracy
MAINTENANCE / HERITAGE LANGUAGE Language Minority Bilingual with emphasis on L1 ** Maintenance / Pluralism / Enrichment Bilingualism & Biliteracy
TWO-WAY / DUAL LANGUAGE Mixed Language Majority & Minority Minority & Majority Maintenance / Pluralism / Enrichment Bilingualism & Biliteracy
MAINSTREAM BILINGUAL Language Majority Two Majority Languages Maintenance / Pluralism / Enrichment Bilingualism & Biliteracy

* In some cases the weak forms of bilingual education may actually be monolingual forms of education. ** L2  = [Students’] 2nd Language, L1 = 1st [or native] language, FL = Foreign Language.

read more at http://www.childresearch.net/papers/language/2012_02.html

Bilingual education, strictly speaking, involves teaching in two or more languages in schools, but for the reasons discussed in the previous paper, a bewildering variety of programs can claim a connection to the use of plural languages in education. Some school systems claim to practice bilingual education because their cultural minority students know another language aside from the one used in schools, but such programs with a monolingual medium of formal instruction do not actually represent a type of bilingual education at all. Their students may be bilingual for the time being despite, not because of, monolingual school systems that are designed to assimilate minorities.

http://waoe.org/steve/epublist.html – for his website

Types of Bilingual Education

With such diverse aims and resulting educational systems existing in the world, a taxonomy can only classify common patterns, but based on worldwide research sources, Baker has formulated ten types of bilingual education spanning four editions of his Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. The book was considered so important that Oka (1996) translated the whole first edition into Japanese, with its title suggesting a close connection between bilingualism and second language acquisition. The author could thus make a bilingual chart adapted from Baker (2001, p. 194) and Oka (1996, p. 183): Types of Bilingual Education

Type of ProgramTypical StudentsLanguages used in the Classroom Educational/ Societal AimLanguage Outcome
Weak Forms of Bilingual Education *
SUBMERSION     (Structured immersion) Language Minority Majority Language Assimilation Monolingualism
SUBMERSION with withdrawal classes / sheltered English Language Minority Majority Language with pull-out L2 ** lessons [held in a different location] Assimilation Monolingualism
SEGREGATIONIST Language Minority Minority Language (forced, no choice) Apartheid Monolingualism
TRANSITIONAL Language Minority Moves from Minority to Majority Language Assimilation Relative Monolingualism
MAINSTREAM with Foreign Language Teaching Language Majority Majority Language with L2/FL ** Lessons Limited Enrichment Limited Bilingualism
SEPARATIST Language Minority Minority Language (out of choice) Detachment / Autonomy Limited Bilingualism
Type of ProgramTypical StudentsLanguages used in the Classroom Educational/ Societal AimLanguage Outcome
Strong Forms of Bilingual Education
IMMERSION Language Majority Bilingual with initial emphasis on L2 ** Pluralism / Enrichment Bilingualism & Biliteracy
MAINTENANCE / HERITAGE LANGUAGE Language Minority Bilingual with emphasis on L1 ** Maintenance / Pluralism / Enrichment Bilingualism & Biliteracy
TWO-WAY / DUAL LANGUAGE Mixed Language Majority & Minority Minority & Majority Maintenance / Pluralism / Enrichment Bilingualism & Biliteracy
MAINSTREAM BILINGUAL Language Majority Two Majority Languages Maintenance / Pluralism / Enrichment Bilingualism & Biliteracy

* In some cases the weak forms of bilingual education may actually be monolingual forms of education. ** L2  = [Students’] 2nd Language, L1 = 1st [or native] language, FL = Foreign Language.

As can be seen in the extreme right column above, weak and strong forms are defined by the typical language outcomes among students, basically whether or not children become or remain bilingual. In strong forms of bilingual education, reading and writing are conducted in both languages, resulting in biliteracy. On the other hand, if classes are taught mainly in one language, it is not to the credit of the school system if some students are bilingual. Children of immigrants or minorities may simply be in transition from their endangered native language or languages to monolingualism in the dominant language of the society. Whereas majority or minority languages are defined from the viewpoint of the mainstream society, native languages (L1) and second or foreign languages (L2) should always be defined from the viewpoint of the learners involved.

In the second column from the right, the various educational or societal aims of bilingual education are seen again in keywords. The middle column demonstrates the variety of possible language use patterns in school classes, particularly the medium of instruction. The ten types of bilingual education are thus defined by the language background of the students, the languages actually used in school, the aims of decision-making authorities, and the active linguistic repertoire of students upon leaving the school.

Regarding particular types, submersion and transitional bilingual education serve the purpose of assimilating immigrant or minority children into the mainstream of society. Transitional programs start with considerable native language instruction, but it is gradually phased out. Submersion programs simply plunge students abruptly into classrooms where their native language is not seen as fit to use, and the medium of instruction is foreign to them, so they involuntarily sink or swim. Such programs are not called submersion, and they are usually believed to help students adjust to society as soon as possible so they can make a living in the future, but it tends to result in the cognitive damage of losing their native language proficiency. Then, for example in the U.S., they may still be stigmatized as limited English proficiency (LEP) speakers or of low intelligence according to standardized test results in their second language.

The second type of submersion in the chart aims to soften the shock of changing the language use of children by teaching in sheltered or simplified English, or pulling language minority students out of classes to study the majority language or medium of instruction itself. Withdrawal classes take place in some Japanese cities as well, with a small number of language minority students pulled out of each school to study Japanese as a second language (JSL) in a central location. Among the drawbacks, they miss regular class content and are further isolated from mainstream students. When Vaipae went beyond questionnaire surveys to interview immigrant families, she found that “regardless of the length of residence or school attendance in Japan, none of the case study students reached academic achievement levels on par with their Japanese classmates” (2001, p. 228).

Mainstream with Foreign Language Teaching, also a weak type of bilingual education, is the usual pattern where the mainstream language majority students study a foreign language several hours a week, which does not provide enough exposure and interaction in the L2 for students to become bilingual. Far removed from environments where it would be necessary and rewarding to use the foreign language, it is too little and started too late. Critical periods have passed where babies could distinguish all languages, children could attain native-like L2 pronunciation until about age eight, and languages could be acquired without much effort until around puberty (Glinkoff & Hirsh-Pasek, 1999, pp. 23-24, 138).  This is the usual predicament with English in Japan, various foreign languages taught in the U.S., and in other countries where one language is dominant.

The two other weak forms of bilingual education, Segregationist and Separatist, can appear to be similar, as they tend to be minority groups isolated from the mainstream society and using their native languages in school, insofar as children can attend. But the key difference is whether they have the choice of their medium of instruction or not. In Segregationist situations the dominant social group excludes the minority group from the option of learning in languages of wider communication such as Swahili, Arabic, English, or French. In this way the dominant group keeps the minority groups down, monopolizing limited resources and economic opportunities for social advancement. Whereas in Separatist situations the minority group is deliberately trying to distance its members from the strong influence of the mainstream society in order to protect its native language, culture, and religion. For example, some American Indians find their children turning away from their native language and values because of the strong influence of the popular culture in English. They may therefore conduct their own education in their native language apart from American influences, although young people are liable to become native speakers of English regardless, because the mainstream language can hardly be avoided.

Most of the weak forms of bilingual education were reserved for the children of immigrants and minorities except the Mainstream with Foreign Language Teaching model, which is ineffective and scarcely threatens to change the existing social order.

Turning to strong forms, a very successful model for majority language students is Immersion, usually in another language of high status, cultural prestige, and economic value. The difference between Immersion and Submersion (for minority students) is first of all a matter of choice, like diving into the deep end of a pool versus being pushed into it. The majority children or at least their parents choose an immersion bilingual education program for the utmost academic advancement, whereas submersion is a matter of circumstance, the conditions most minority families encounter in schools where the default national policy toward them is assimilation.

Immersion originated in Canada, which has a majority of French speakers in the province of Quebec. Canada has developed a national policy of bilingualism, with English and French as official languages, and multiculturalism (Shapson & D’Oyley, 1984) in consideration of indigenous Inuit and other minorities. 40% of children in Toronto schools are foreign born (Ritchie, 2006). Immersion bilingual education has been implemented widely for many years in Canada and adopted by schools in other countries (Bostwick, 2004). There are several English immersion schools in Japan, with research showing its effectiveness at Kato Gakuen in Shizuoka Prefecture (Bostwick, 2001). Conversely, there are schools in the U.S. and Australia that have Japanese immersion programs.

In immersion bilingual education the regular curriculum is taught to some extent in the target language, which can also be called Content-Based Foreign Language Teaching. But if the L2 is used less than half the time over the school year, it is not considered immersion, strictly speaking, but rather enrichment (Genesee, cited in Bostwick, 2004). When it is much less than 50%, it is Mainstream with Foreign Language Teaching, as noted earlier among the weak forms. There has not been much research or attention to bilingual education beyond childhood, but Content-Based English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Teaching, for example at Osaka Jogakuin University, can be more or less than 50% in the target language. In response to the author’s question at a public lecture, Fred Genesee answered that Content-Based EFL in higher education could be called “immersion-like.”

If a program is called immersion, it may need to be confirmed that the curriculum meets the established criteria. There is a distinction between partial and total immersion, as the proportion of L1 and L2 used tends to change from year to year in the same bilingual school. It is further divided into early immersion when it starts in pre-school, middle immersion when it starts midway through elementary school, and late immersion when it starts around the beginning of junior high school.  It is a strict standard compared to most foreign language programs, but many studies have shown that immersion students did not lose any native level ability in L1 but rather gained academic (Bostwick, 2001) and cognitive benefits from effective bilingual education programs.

Maintenance or Heritage Language programs serve the purpose of preserving the ethnic identity, culture and language of minority group members. Immigrant communities in particular have a need to maintain communication channels with first generation immigrants and people in their country of origin. Through bilingual education their children can cope with the majority society without losing their roots. Korean (Cary, 2001) and Chinese schools in Japan are of this type. Since their students are mostly raised in Japan and hence native speakers of Japanese, with English also taught at least through secondary school, many of their graduates are bilingual or multilingual.

Two-Way or Dual Language bilingual education is similar to immersion, but schools try to gather about the same number of minority and majority language students in each class in the program, and usually team teach about half of the curriculum in the native language of the minority and half in the native language of the majority language students. This shows that both languages are equally valued, and students can learn from each other. Two examples are Seigakuin Atlanta International School (n.d.), in English and Japanese, and Vienna Bilingual Schools (Oka, 2003, pp. 51-52), in German and English.

The last strong form among the ten types of bilingual education is called Mainstream Bilingual. It includes international schools and the European Schools Movement (Baker, 2006, p. 227). It serves children like majority students or temporary residents whose native language is an international language such as English. Thus Baker’s most recent edition also calls it Bilingual Education in Majority Languages. “Such schools are in societies where much of the population is already bilingual or multilingual (e.g. Singapore, Luxembourg) or where there are significant numbers of natives or expatriates wanting to become bilingual (e.g. learning through English and Japanese in Japan)” (Baker, 2006, p. 250). “Bilingual education in majority languages means that some curriculum content is learnt through a student’s second language. In Europe, this is often called Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)” (p. 251).

Conclusion to this paper

This was the longest of the three papers analyzing bilingual education because of the many types that are found in the world. The types drew from the varying purposes for bilingual education outlined in the first paper. Particularly the charts of ten purposes and ten types in the first and second papers will also provide background information for the final article. The third paper adds a worksheet with ten criteria and a list of ten realistic cases in Japan and the world to classify into types of bilingual education. Putting all of these together, it will be possible to analyze the languages used in any educational system in the world in terms of bilingual education.

References

  • Baker, C. (2001). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism (3rd ed.). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
  • Baker, C. (2006). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism (4th ed.). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
  • Bostwick, R.M. (2001). Bilingual education of children in Japan: Year four of a partial immersion programme. In M.G. Noguchi & S. Fotos (Eds.), Studies in Japanese Bilingualism (pp. 164-183). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
  • Bostwick, R.M. (2004). What is Immersion? Numazu, Shizuoka, Japan: Katoh Gakuen. Retrieved from http://bi-lingual.com/school/INFO/WhatIsImmersion.html
  • Cary, A. (2001). Affiliation, not assimilation: Resident Koreans and ethnic education. In M.G. Noguchi & S. Fotos (Eds.), Studies in Japanese Bilingualism (pp. 98-132). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
  • Glinkoff, R.M. & Hirsh-Pasek, K.H. (1999). How Babies Talk: The Magic and Mystery of Language in the First Three Years of Life. NY: A Plume Book.
  • Oka, H. (1996). Bairingaru kyoiku to daini gengo shutoku [Bilingual education and second language acquisition]. Tokyo: Taishukan Shoten.
  • Oka, H. (2003). Sekai no bairingarizumu [Bilingualism in the world]. In JACET Bilingualism SIG, (Ed.), Nihon no bairingaru kyouiku: Gakkou no jirei kara manabu [Bilingual education in Japan: Learning from case studies in schools], pp. 24-66. Tokyo: Sanshusha.
  • Ritchie, M. (2006). Integrating children who speak a foreign language into English nursery schools in Toronto, Canada. Tokyo: Child Research Net. Retrieved from http://www.childresearch.net/papers/multi/2006_03.html
  • Seigakuin Atlanta International School (n.d.). Parents’ Guide to Our Two-Way Immersion School. Retrieved from http://www.seig.ac.jp/english/atlanta/img/Two%20Way%20Immersion(E).pdf
  • Shapson, S. & D’Oyley, V. (Eds.). (1984). Bilingual and multicultural education: Canadian perspectives. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
  • Vaipae, S.S. (2001). Language minority students in Japanese public schools. In M.G. Noguchi & S. Fotos (Eds.), Studies in Japanese Bilingualism (pp. 184-233). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
  • Yukawa, E. (2000). Bilingual education in Sweden. In S. Ryan (Ed.), The best of Bilingual Japan, (pp. 45-47). Osaka: Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT) Bilingualism SIG.