Children in Wales are making progress in developing their Welsh Language skills

A report out today says that at Foundation stage the children in Wales are acquiring Welsh language skills but the focus now needs to be on improving reading and writing skills.

The report says that

 In the best schools, teachers are highly skilled, passionate and plan fun and stimulating activities that engage and excite the children, but in a minority of schools and settings staff are not devoting enough direct teaching time to developing the Welsh language and there are gaps in practitioners’ knowledge and skills that are inhibiting the children’s learning and development.

This is a difficult one if the teacher’s do not speak Welsh fluently then the school will be unable to move further forward without either employing more natural Welsh speakers or up skilling the teachers level of Welsh knowledge. This leads me to wonder about EAL teaching how often do we as teachers/inspectors/observers assume the support assistant has the skill set but they also need up skilling not only in English but in their home language as well? ….  Just as valid is the next question that follows should we ensure we are up skilling these practitioners to support our children to get the best education?     Just an observation open for your ideas and comments.

For the full report see http://www.estyn.gov.uk/english/news/news/children-in-wales-are-making-progress-in-developing-their-welsh-language-skills-in-the-foundation-phase/ or the whole piece below.

Children in Wales are making progress in acquiring Welsh language skills, but more needs to be done to continue the upward trend in their reading and writing skills, according to Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales.
In a report published today, Welsh Language Development in the Foundation Phase, the inspectorate found that in the majority of English-medium schools most children are making good progress in speaking and listening to Welsh in the Foundation Phase, but their reading and writing skills are less well developed.
Ann Keane, the inspectorate’s Chief Inspector said,

“Welsh Language is one of the seven Areas of Learning in the Foundation Phase Framework for Children’s Learning.
During the last two years, we have seen progress being made in Welsh Language Development in the majority of schools and settings. Children are enjoying learning the language of Wales in innovative and fun ways.
In the best schools, teachers are highly skilled, passionate and plan fun and stimulating activities that engage and excite the children, but in a minority of schools and settings staff are not devoting enough direct teaching time to developing the Welsh language and there are gaps in practitioners’ knowledge and skills that are inhibiting the children’s learning and development.”

The inspectorate also found that children’s progress in Welsh Language Development is a concern in over a third of English-medium non-maintained settings. In these settings, children lack confidence in using Welsh outside short whole-group sessions such as registration periods or singing sessions and they do not use the Welsh language in their play or learning without prompts from adults.
Ann Keane continues,

“Schools and settings need to review, evaluate and plan engaging and effective ways for children to speak, read and write Welsh across all areas of learning.
In the best schools, teachers use real life experiences for children to use their Welsh language skills such as making shopping lists or writing party invitations. In these instances, children are highly engaged and are making good progress in writing Welsh.”

The inspectorate outlines a number of recommendations for schools and settings, local authorities and the Welsh Government, to address the issues highlighted within the report.
For example, schools and settings should evaluate planning to make sure that there are enough opportunities for children to use the Welsh language in other areas of learning and outdoor activities and monitor and evaluate how well children are doing in developing their Welsh language skills. In addition, local authorities need to be providing better access to Welsh Language support and training for practitioners as well as sharing good practice.
Ann Keane concludes,

“Every child in Wales has the right to access the best quality Welsh Language education. This report provides a number of best practice case studies illustrating how schools have successfully developed children’s skills in Welsh. I would encourage all practitioners to read this report and use the case studies to assess their own practice and develop new ways of improving the provision of Welsh Language Development.”

Character #295: 魚

Chinese for fish  = 魚

來學正體字 Learn Traditional Chinese Characters

The character 魚[ㄩˊ] means fish. Here is the stroke order animation and pronunciation. Here are the individual strokes for writing the character. Here is the definition in Taiwanese Mandarin. Here is the evolution of the written form of 魚. The earliest two forms were pictures of fish!

魚[ㄩˊ]池[ㄔˊ] – fishpond
魚[ㄩˊ]鱗[ㄌㄧㄣˊ] – fish scale

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Samoa students ask for bilingual lessons

This seems to be breaking news all the reading that I have done and sharing in this blog about bilingual education has not before thrown up Samoan and bilingual in the same sentence. From this story it seems that in order to save the language the young people themselves feel that they should have bilingual lessons to keep their language alive. Presently most teaching and learning is done via the medium of English because there are not enough Samoan teachers to deliver a bilingual curriculum.

This just shows again how language no matter how strong in an area, place or country if it is not used in the end a stronger one takes over, so I believe to ensure continuity and the ability to be a global as well as a community citizen the use of two languages is a must, or more languages will be lost.

http://www.mvariety.com/regional-news/palaupacific-news/50537-a-samoa-calls-for-bilingual-teaching

 

Bilingual programmes are helping students achieve a greater proficiency in reading and maths, perhaps UK schools should take note with the new inspection orders in place.

Jesus Santos, director of bilingual-multicultural education for MPS, said the research showed that the district’s bilingual programs are helping students achieve at a greater proficiency level in reading and math.

As the new school year approaches in the UK OFSTED have issued their guidance to inspectors which will come into effect on 1st September. One of the biggest challenges will be for schools to achieve success with their learners with English as an Additional Language (EAL or ESOL) learners.  These Dual langauge learners (DLL) will wish to keep their first language and build on it to gain their second. This creates a problem for monolingual teachers or those who feel less confident with teaching another language.

I can see that this is going to be the challenge as OFSTED clearly states that they will be looking at children who have the pupil premium attached to them, and also those who need support together with those designated EAL. The challenge will therefore be to get the learner as quickly as possible to the same level as their non-EAL equivalent, as anything between that will be scrutinised.

We can all be assured and reassured from the comments above by Jesus Santos that if we embrace the learners first language and use it as a stepping stone where appropriate, then the children learn and catch up quicker, particularly with reading and maths which is clearly another huge focus for the Inspectors.

Schools need to be looking for resources that with their innovative ways reassure and  give confidence to the teacher whilst celebrating and empowering the learner. A big ask but I am sure it can be done.

To read the new inspectors handbook in which I have highlighted with any mention specifically to EAL children go to our website  http://languagesupportuk.com/What%2527s-Good-.php Very worryingly is that  this group of children can alert inspectors and by my reading of the judgements you are better reading from the bottom up and checking that you fulfil the criteria for not achieving special measures or serious weaknesses otherwise you may find yourself at risk.

If you would like to read more about Francesca Lopez who has been through the school system right through to doctorate and researched her beliefs you can do so here  http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/educator-turns-rough-start-into-bilingual-mission-jo6k7ip-167495545.html  or read the read the story below.

Francesca Lopez vividly remembers starting school in El Paso, Texas, in the third grade.

She hated it.

Though she and her family lived in El Paso, she and her mom, like many others at the time, crossed the border to Juarez, Mexico, back and forth every day for school. Her mother taught high school, and she attended grade school.Then in the third grade her Mexican-born mother and American-born father decided she should go to public school. It’s an experience vividly etched in her memory.

“It was traumatic. I was very alone. I didn’t speak English very well, so I daydreamed. I wasn’t a very good student. I hated it,” she says while sitting in the living room of her Wauwatosa home.

But in the fifth grade it was announced that a new pilot program for gifted and talented students was starting. Everyone had to take the nonverbal intelligence test.To her surprise, and that of many classmates, she got in.That changed her life. And it set her on a lifelong educational path of teaching, counseling and researching the subject dear to her heart – bilingual education, testing, student achievement and how teachers teach students learning English.

Now 38, with a doctoral degree, she’s an assistant professor in the department of educational policy and leadership at Marquette University. She teaches courses on children and adolescents in a diverse society. She also researches language acquisition, teaching practices and the development of language, and the development of ethnic identity among Hispanic youths.

She also looks at the issues of testing, assessment and the outcomes of bilingual education programs vs. English immersion programs.Lopez still smiles broadly when she talks about how a test changed her own trajectory.

“That (fifth grade) test gave me an incredible boost,” she says. “I remember how I felt. It was like a ticket to a brand-new life, a new school, a new identity. I became an A student,” she says adding that by that time she was fluent in English.

Her new school emphasized literature and English, science and math. Her science project on right- and left-handedness – it used statistics she had learned in class – was chosen for the citywide science fair. The exposure to higher-level math and stronger academics propelled her. She attended an all-girls Catholic high school with many who, like her, were from Spanish-speaking homes but where much was expected.

Those early years, she says, taught her the importance of perception, self-confidence, motivation and what you can do if you believe in yourself, especially for bilingual students.

“If you believe you can do something, you can,” she says. “Whereas, if you don’t even believe you can do it, you might not even try.”

After college she began teaching in a third-grade bilingual class, then became a counselor. She received a master’s in counseling from the University of Texas at El Paso.When her husband’s job transferred him to Tucson, Ariz., she stayed home for a time with her young children and then pursued a doctorate in educational psychology at the University of Arizona. When she looked for a job, all the offers came from Midwest colleges and universities.

“In the Southwest everyone is bilingual, but in the Midwest you’re wanted and you feel needed because of the shifting demographics and growth of Latino and Spanish-speaking populations,” she says.

Last year she studied developmental and bilingual programs at 13 Milwaukee Public Schools.

Sometimes in dual-language programs where the classroom has equal numbers of English- and Spanish-dominant students, “there’s the potential for marginalizing Latino students, but I didn’t see that,” she says. “I found excellent teaching strategies.”

She adds, though, that teachers volunteered to be part of the study, so that might have skewed the overall picture.

Jesus Santos, director of bilingual-multicultural education for MPS, said the research showed that the district’s bilingual programs are helping students achieve at a greater proficiency level in reading and math.

“But we also learned that we need to continually provide professional development for teachers so we can continue to improve achievement,” he says. “Better teachers also understand the background of the students, and if they do they are more successful in teaching.”

That’s especially important for new bilingual teachers, whom the district is constantly recruiting, he says.

This school year, working with the Greater Milwaukee Catholic Education Consortium, Lopez will do research at several largely Latino Catholic elementary schools. The consortium comprises the five Catholic colleges and universities in the area and provides resources and research to Catholic K-12 schools.

Lopez said she will look at linking teacher behavior to student identity and student achievement and how it can grow.

With the growth of the Latino population and Spanish-speaking students, teachers need the skills to effectively work with the complexities of students from a different culture who speak another language, says Jennifer Maney, the coordinator of the consortium.

“We’re doing our best to keep up with the need,” Maney says, “so that we can improve student achievement and make good schools better