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.


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.


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.


  • 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%


  • 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

parent academies – will these be GOVE’s next UK Education innovation?

I read with interest that in America Illinois is to be the next state to introduce parent academies.  These support parents with information relating to educational expectations including what standardised testing is.  Sadly my first thought was will this be Mr Gove’s next radical idea, not that it is necessarily a bad one, but if it is not well thought out and delivered well then it will be a waste of money and energy and those who it is supposed to support will be its biggest criticisers.

The Advisory Council will discuss the possibility of parent academies to teach parents about standardized testing, homework strategies, and student-teacher relationships.



A new law signed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on Thursday hopes to strengthen bilingual education in the state through study and parent academies.

House Bill 3819 will require the Illinois Advisory Council on Bilingual Education to review the success rate of bilingual programs, examine initiatives like parent academies and cultural competency programs, and give a report on their findings to the State Superintendent of Education, Governor, and General Assembly by the first of the year.

In 2010 there were 183,000 students (almost ten percent of the student population) in Illinois for whom English was not a first language. Eighty percent of students enrolled in English language programs spoke Spanish, with Polish, Urdu, Arabic, Tagalog, Korean, Cantonese/Mandarin, Gujarati, Vietnamese, and Russian rounding out the top ten.

The Advisory Council will discuss the possibility of parent academies to teach parents about standardized testing, homework strategies, and student-teacher relationships. Similar programs have been successful in other states.

“Parents of non-English speaking students want—and need—to feel a greater stake in navigating their child’s education,” Representative Chapa LaVia, Chairperson for the Illinois House Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriations Committee, said. “This new law opens the door to such innovations as ‘parent academies’ to accomplish that.”

The bill passed both chambers unanimously and will take effect on January 1

Parents “hiding” or suppressing their native tongue so as to defend their children from vicious racism has caused the widespread social tragedy of heritage language loss.

Some interesting background information into immigration particularly in Bedford, Canada in the 19th Century and its impact in the 21st Century. How many other countries have similar needs to this where they have needed extra personnel and encourage global mobility for job fulfillment then years later forget about it. What is interesting as in the blog a few days ago it actively says that:

Parents “hiding” or suppressing their native tongue so as to defend their children from vicious racism has caused the widespread social tragedy of heritage language loss.

This is still happening in so many educational places rather than celebrating the differences such a shame for the children, the parents and the language.

If you are interested in the full article here it is.

Your View: Esperanza prospectus a return to city’s bilingual education heritage
By The Rev. Marc Fallon
The Rev. Marc Fallon works in the office of Catholic Social Services in New Bedford. He is a member of United Interfaith Action.

New Bedford’s economic history suggests that current employment dislocations and the need for recalibration of job skills are cyclical. As the whaling era ended in the late 19th century, New Bedford was among the many New England cities receiving migrants to staff the labor-intensive textile mills. While Poles, Irish, Italians, Azoreans, Cape Verdeans and Portugese crossed the Atlantic, local descendants of Francophone Quebecois continental migrants continue to remember and celebrate their forebears’ many contributions. They valued their faith, culture and language, developing a remarkably successful bilingual education system that graduated English-speaking textile workers and workers in many other positions and professions. Yet as we recall the cultural divide between local power brokers and immigrant textile workers of a century ago, it challenges credulity that the city would ignore the wishes of Latino parents for the highest quality education for their children.

As much as the Canadian 1867 Confederation sought to defend minority rights regionally, the Quebecois were ready to respond to the labor opportunities in New England textile factories. The new workers arrived with an ingrained distrust of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant power cartel they knew in Montreal and apparently transferred this to the local establishment. Deposit their paychecks in Anglo banks? Hardly. The viability of St. Anne’s Federal Credit Union today reminds of the financial institutions that emerged from Catholic parish basements in Fall River, Biddeford and throughout New England. The Francophone Catholic clergy journeyed here in sufficient numbers to staff the “national” parishes. The community placed paramount importance on the bilingual parish schools that would propagate the faith, teach cultural traditions and prepare students for their working careers. I know this because my ancestors in the Congregation of Holy Cross did the teaching.

St. Anthony of Padua Parish opened their school in September 1896 to 300 students before the parish’s first anniversary. Ten years later, 900 students studied in a facility with 14 classrooms and the building now housing the Global Learning Charter School opened in 1924. As the women and men of the Congregations of Holy Cross rebuilt schools in the aftermath of the French revolution, they also traveled with economic migrants to South Bend, Ind., Saint-Laurent, Quebec and elsewhere in North America. Les Soeurs de Sainte-Croix arrived in New Bedford and staffed St. Anthony’s school with two sections for each year K-8, with one section studying in French while their counterparts learned in English during the morning and reversing the curriculum for the afternoon. It appears that catechesis, the history of Canada, and French language and literature built upon the first language of the students (no doubt appeasing parents concerned about foreign cultural influences in the new land) while math, science, geography, U.S. history and English grammar increasingly brought the eighth-grade graduates to full bilingual competency before entering high school.

A century has passed, and the Vatican II Council and countless social changes have taken place in the interim. The 2010 census cries out to us that 17 percent of the city is Latino, a population of internal migrants of the Americas with tremendous similarities to the social characteristics of the Quebecois textile workers. While Catholic religious life is in a very different place than a century ago, a new generation of committed educators and social activists see clearly the local social inequities. Still, one cannot help but be struck by the structural indifference to the educational needs of this population on the part of those elected to serve them.

United Interfaith Action supports the Esperanza School of Language and Culture Prospectus for an Innovation School. Beginning with three grades of K-2, this school would teach students with Latino parents (English Language Learners) in both English and Spanish throughout the school day, eventually developing a K-8 model. This proposal relates to young bilingual students in appreciation of their linguistic and cultural capital, as opposed to the myopic and misanthropic power structure that would track the children to nothing beyond the low-wage jobs of their parents. Parents “hiding” or suppressing their native tongue so as to defend their children from vicious racism has caused the widespread social tragedy of heritage language loss.

The reactionary anti-immigrant xenophobes won their referendum against the state bilingual education program 10 years ago and then skipped town, leaving a vulnerable population with no support. To document that only 36 percent of ELL students are progressing in English language acquisition is to witness a profound social disaster. One must wonder if those in City Hall who discuss education ever speak with those concerned with economic development. Who could cross the present chasm?

We the clergy and faithful members of United Interfaith Action urge that the School Committee adopt the Esperanza School of Language and Culture Prospectus for an Innovation School in testament to the invaluable heritage of bilingual education in New Bedford and the genuine hope it offers for Latino students and parents.

Lima Peru information

Some background information about Lima the capital of Peru to discuss similarities and differences with learners from other parts of the world.

Beach Treasures and Treasure Beaches

Lima is the capitol city of Peru. Located on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Lima is a popular beach destination for visitors and locals alike. An exciting surprise is that surfing is great year-round in Lima! With a variety beaches and waves that appeal to beginning and advanced surfers, everyone can hit the surf and soak up the beautiful sea breezes. With so many beaches to choose from, it may be a challenge to know where to begin. Thanks to Peru’s official tourism website, we’re only a few clicks away from learning about the fabulous surfing beaches of Lima.

Costa Verde – is described as a “Lima beach circuit visited by swimmers and surfers.” These rocky beaches are perhaps less popular with bathers on the whole than the sandier beaches in the south of Lima, but the Miraflores District is a popular tourist destination known…

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Chinese character-school

The chinese character for school and the stroke order.

來學正體字 Learn Traditional Chinese Characters

The character 校 has two pronunciations. [ㄒㄧㄠˋ] means school. [ㄐㄧㄠˋ] means to proofread. Here is the stroke order animation. Here are the individual strokes for writing the character. Here is the evolution of 校.

校[ㄒㄧㄠˋ]友[ㄧㄡˇ] – alumnus, school friend
校[ㄒㄧㄠˋ]園[ㄩㄢˊ] – campus, schoolyard
校[ㄐㄧㄠˋ]直[ㄓˊ] – to align, straighten

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More innovative – and useful – approaches to language revision can untie students hands in exam settings – UK MFL

Rote learning of stock phrases short-changes language students and ties their hands in exam settings. More innovative – and useful – approaches to language revision can change that, says Jane Jones.

From my experience learning in context is always more advantageous for learners rather than stock phrases that need to be put together. This can make for clumsy answers which no doubt decreases their performance on the fluency scale. In my teens I struggled to learn French but learnt by rote all of the sentences turn right, turn left, brother, sister etc, etc and was then shocked when I got to the exam and needed joining words.  I am hoping that this advice from AQA will be really useful to all language teachers. Also despite it being written for MFL teachers I think this is also the case for any language teaching including EAL, ELL, EFL etc.

It can be found below at http://cerp.aqa.org.uk/perspectives/revising-revision-mfl

The semi-apologetic phrase ‘only doing revision’ devalues the highly skilled teaching and formative assessment involved in good revision. It can provide opportunities for pupils to practise, hone and demonstrate their linguistic knowledge and skills; yet  some revision activities in modern foreign languages (MFL) seem to close down options for students to use their language fully and flexibly.


The focus becomes fixed on paradigms, lists and formulaic expression that can paralyse comprehension and leave students lost for words in exam settings. Mindful of this, I set a challenge for my trainee teachers to devise revision activities for Key Stage 4 pupils that would provide structure as well as opportunities to diverge and to be creative.


Engaging with assessment Revision is most productive when it reflects regular classroom learning, teaching and assessment styles (albeit more intensified), and a classroom culture of challenge and collaboration. The student teachers were very inventive in their ideas for quality revision. Their work was underpinned by a strong belief in the basic tenets of an Assessment for Learning approach, providing activities to progress learning and ensuring students took responsibility for their learning and gave support to their peers. The revision activities were collaborative and mutually supportive, the learners benefiting from helpful questioning and feedback from each other. The aim was for them to know what ‘good work’ looked and sounded like – crucial in MFL.


Newly qualified teacher Nicola provided an example of revision activities on the topic of ‘healthy lifestyle’. Following some initial recall and practice exercises using the mark scheme as a guide, pupils in her German class had to come up with an answer to the question ‘what makes a healthy lifestyle?’  After a few lessons marking each others’ work and scrutinising sample answers from the exam board to generate success criteria, the pupils attempted to answer the question in groups. The criteria were: use three tenses, give your opinion, and use complex language.


Nicola provided a hint on how to tackle the question to achieve the highest possible marks, but the students then took over, adapting previously learnt language and creating new language to hit the success criteria. The students then swapped their answers with other groups, got out their mark-scheme checklists and awarded grades, highlighting aspects of language which scored points based on the success criteria and also the GCSE exam marks. They became quite expert, says Nicola, and sample responses were written up as exemplars and shared with the class.


This example shows how pupils can engage deeply with the assessment criteria and come to an understanding for themselves through peer- and self -assessment of what they need to be able to do.


Furthermore, such activities can wrap around any aspect of assessment. This provides a huge confidence boost and enables pupils to become not just skilled test-takers, useful though this might be (McDonough, 1995), but expert examiners for themselves. In this way, summative assessment can be very formative (Jones and Wiliam, 2008) and can generate creative and contingent use of language as well as consolidating known structures and vocabulary.


The student teachers felt that intensive periods of challenging revision could be integrated more regularly into normal MFL teaching and learning as part of pupils’ self-guided learning and assessment awareness. In such a way, revision is not confined to an end of year activity but becomes a central driver and enabler of learning in a continuous cycle of revision.


Dr Jane Jones is Senior Lecturer in Education and Head of MFL Teacher Education at King’s College London


  1. Jones , J. and Wiliam, D. (2008) Modern Foreign Languages inside the Black Box. London: GL Assessment.
  2. McDonough, S. (1995) Strategy and Skill in learning a Foreign Language. London: Edward Arnold.

Nomination for Inspiring Blogger Award

Today I have been nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

Thanks very much to http://italkyoutalklanguages.wordpress.com for this.  I am learning a lot about Japan and am able to support my readers who want to learn Japanese.

Seven things about me: I love

  1. The beach
  2. Sunsets
  3. Flip flops
  4. Beach hut
  5. Cross stitch and quilting
  6. Olde fashioned flowers sweet peas and lily of the valley
  7. Small pink and yellow roses

The blogs I nominate are very small because I have only just started:

  1. http://italkyoutalklanguages.wordpress.com/       all about teaching and learning languages
  2. http://languagerichblog.eu/            multilingualism for stable and prosperous societies
  3. http://beachtreasuresandtreasurebeaches.com/  one shall at a time
  4. http://thinkingthrulanguages.wordpress.com/  learning traditional chinese characters
  5. http://thisworldthrumyeyes.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/off-it-goes/  sharing my vision of the world
  6. http://beachtreasuresandtreasurebeaches.com/2012/07/27/location-location-location-baker-beach-san-francisco/ beach treasures and treasure beaches
Very inspirational Blogger

Is there a right or wrong way to learn languages?

Many experts do not agree, depending on which camp they are from some suggest total emersion whilst others think knowing all the grammar is the way to go.  For myself I think you need a mix of all elements especially when completely new to it. Hearing the language spoken by natives gives you a feel of the tune, tone, and sound of the language. Knowing the rules means that you should not upset adults…..they often have a different set of words to those used by children …. and that you can have a good guess at structuring a sentence and which words to use and finally just practicing in everyday situations and making mistakes within a supportive environment can help immensely.  But do not take my word for it, that is just what I have witnessed over my experiences as a learner and a teacher. I don’t necessarily think that boot camp is the best answer so was pleased to see this article written by Stephen Krashen that helps give a little backbone to my experiences and intuition.

In a recent issue of the Washington Post Express, Andrew Eil, a staffer who works at the U.S. State Department on international climate change, recommends that foreign language students start with “boot camp:” Study grammar very hard, drill vocabulary every day, and force yourself to talk. This regimen, he claims, put him in a position to develop high levels of competence in several languages; he now speaks Russian and French fluently and can converse in Mandarin and Kazakh.

See the rest here:

The wrong and right way to learn a foreign language

This was written by linguist Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus at the University of Southern California, is an educational researcher and activist. He has written hundreds of articles and books in the fields of second language acquisition, bilingual education, and reading.


By Stephen Krashen

In a recent issue of the Washington Post Express, Andrew Eil, a staffer who works at the U.S. State Department on international climate change, recommends that foreign language students start with “boot camp:” Study grammar very hard, drill vocabulary every day, and force yourself to talk. This regimen, he claims, put him in a position to develop high levels of competence in several languages; he now speaks Russian and French fluently and can converse in Mandarin and Kazakh.

Most of us who have taken foreign languages classes that emphasize heavy grammar instruction and memorizing vocabulary would disagree with his recommendations, and so does the research.

The results of studies done over the last few decades by a wide variety of researchers and published in scientific journals support this view: We do not master languages by hard study and memorization, or by producing it. Rather, we acquire language when we understand what people tell us and what we read, when we get “comprehensible input.” As we get comprehensible input through listening and reading, we acquire (or “absorb”) the grammar and vocabulary of the second language.

Studies show repeatedly that intensive grammar study and memorizing vocabulary are of limited value: Students in classes that provide lots of comprehensible input (e.g. methods such as TPRS) consistently do better than students in traditional grammar-based classes on tests that involve real communication and do just as well, and often better, on grammar tests. These students have acquired the grammar and vocabulary of the language naturally, and can use what they have acquired in real communicative situations. They are also more likely to continue foreign language study.Grammar

The complexity of the grammatical system to be mastered makes it highly unlikely that it can be taught and learned: Linguists have not even described the grammatical system of any language completely and many rules are forbiddingly complex, with numerous exceptions.

Even very complex rules, however, can be acquired (or “absorbed”) through comprehensible input, especially through reading. Here is one of many examples from the research: In one study, English speakers who spoke Spanish as a second language were tested on their ability to use the Spanish subjunctive in conversation. The subjunctive is of interest as it is considered a difficult structure to master. Researchers considered a number of predictors of subjunctive proficiency: amount of formal study of Spanish, amount of formal study of the subjunctive, years of residence in a Spanish-speaking country, and the amount of reading done in Spanish. The only significant predictor was reading in Spanish.


There is a substantial research literature showing that vocabulary knowledge comes largely from comprehensible input, especially reading, in both first and second languages. Many second language speakers acquire enormous vocabularies, and it is highly doubtful that they did it through vocabulary study: In one study, it was reported that speakers of Spanish as a second language who were avid readers in Spanish had larger Spanish vocabularies than native speakers of Spanish who did not do a lot of reading.

Forced speech

Should language students force themselves to talk, as Eil advises? Research informs us that at beginning stages, highly successful second language acquirers often experience a substantial “silent period,” a time when they produce little or no language. The silent period is nearly universal for children acquiring a second language, and there are entire cultures in which second language acquirers are expected to experience a silent period. Also, successful comprehensible-input based methods do not force students to speak.

Forcing language students to speak before they are ready not only makes them extremely uncomfortable but does nothing for language acquisition. Speaking doesn’t cause language acquisition; rather, the ability to speak is the result of comprehensible input.

Comprehensible input at all stages

Andrew Eil has clearly done well in foreign language acquisition, and he acknowledges the value of the experiences he had during his residence in Russia, Kazakhstan, France and China over several years, from the reading he did, the movies he saw, the many conversations he had with others, and other kinds of “informal, friendly interaction.” In other words, he improved thanks to comprehensible input.

Current research strongly suggests that comprehensible input is the way we acquire language at all stages. The kind of “boot camp” Eil recommends is neither necessary nor desirable.


Comprehensible input: Krashen, S. 2003. Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use. Heinemann.

Effectiveness of comprehensible-input based instruction: Krashen, op. cit.; TPRS studies: Varguez, K. 2009. Traditional and TPR Storytelling instrution in beginning high school Spanish classroom. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching 5 (1): 2-11; Watson, B. 2009. A comparison of TPRS and traditional foreign language instruction at the high school level. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching 5 (1): 21-24.

Acquisition of Spanish subjunctive: Stokes, J., Krashen, S., and Kartchner, J. 1998. Factors in the acquisition of the present subjunctive in Spanish: The role of reading and study. ITL: Review of Applied Linguistics 121-122:19-25.

Highly successful second language acquirers often experience a substantial “silent period”; Krashen, S. 2000. What does it take to acquire language? ESL Magazine, 3(3), 22-23. (available at http:www. sdkrashen.com)

Cultures in which a silent period is expected: Sorenson, A. 1967. Multilingualism in the northwest Amazon. American Anthropologist, 69 (6), 670-684.

Avid readers of Spanish: Rodrigo, V. 2009. Vocabulary size and reading habit in native and non-native speakers of Spanish. Hispania, 92.3, 580-592.