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

 

Parents eye view of Bilingualism in reality – Sweden

Often as teachers we have little contact with parents, or even if we do they do not tell us how they feel about bilingualism and I wonder if sometimes they feel that they have no one to talk to either, and actually worry that they are doing ‘it’ wrong.  This is why I thought I would share this with you from Sweden where a mother explains how she notices her child becoming a confident bilingual speaker and expresses a little about how she feels.

http://www.thelocal.se/41118/20120529/ is the direct link to it or read it below. It is a great insight into the reality of bilingualism from the parenst perspective and the fact that she writes : ‘Interestingly, my two friends that were the most satisfied with their kids’ development were those who grew up with more than one language in their lives themselves. With the benefit of perspective that I lack on this issue, they seem able to embrace their kids’ language as a skilled yet imperfect work in progress.’ shows the teacher at work even as a mum.

The other day, I noticed a new dynamic in our family. Actually, if I look back, the change has been gradual, but I never really thought too much about it until last week when the kids came home from school.

After two years here in Sweden, Swedish is now our kids’ dominant language. This is how I found out.
Erik and Gabrielle were in the backyard, taking advantage of the year’s first streak of warm weather to jump themselves silly on our trampoline. And since it’s just the three of us, we’re all speaking English.
Then, Gabrielle says she’s thirsty, so I go inside and get a pitcher and some glasses. As I return to the back door, I pause and listen. They are speaking Swedish.
I walk back out with the water and call them over. They switch back to English. I’m curious, so I decide to test it: will they switch if I leave again? I walk inside again but stay by the door listening to the conversation.
I wish I could report that they meandered off into deep thoughts or were showering each other with compliments.  Actually, they started arguing.
“I want the tupp glas,” whined Gabrielle. She couldn’t come up with the English word rooster immediately, so she switched over to Swedish; tupp glas,” instead of rooster glass”. And Erik followed her.
I tested my theory a few times over the week, and the conversations followed the same pattern. And it never happened the opposite way; not once during a Swedish conversation did they spontaneously switch over to English.
I don’t mind this change at all. I want our kids to feel at home here in Sweden, and that feeling of connection is related, in part, to strong Swedish skills.
But this new development in our kids’ language raised a question that I hadn’t considered in a long time: what are my goals for our kids’ language growth?
As an idealist new parent, my goal was lofty and vague: they should be bilingual. I should have known better. Personal experience as well as education research suggests that bilingualism exists on a continuum.
It’s a practice that must constantly be maintained, and it can vary greatly among individuals. Bilingualism was a good starting point, but as an achievable goal, it ranked somewhere near my (broken) New Year’s resolutions like “eat healthier” and “write a novel”: good intentions, mediocre results… at best.
When we moved to Sweden, my goal was to keep the kids on par with grade-level Americans in speech, reading and writing… in case we decide to move back at some point.
Actually, I didn’t articulate this goal so clearly to myself, but now I can see this was my underlying expectation. But now I wasn’t sure if this was realistic.
Everything I had read in and out of education classes emphasized that successful bilingualism should be a conscious process, constantly reevaluated and fine-tuned.
Taking a page out of the guidelines for successful New Year’s resolutions, I set out to create some goals that were process-based (as opposed to result-based) and measurable.
But where to start?
While pondering, I realized there’s also some outside pressure related to this goal: home language classes.
Recently, I was told that, starting in 6th grade, my son’s home language teacher was going to give him his English grade, and it would be based on native, grade-level assessment. Now, my son has a very nice home language teacher, but how is this man expected to teach him the nuances of grade level English during one 45-minute class per week?
And as the primary English influence in their lives, the task of getting Erik and Gabrielle on par with their American counterparts would mostly be mine.
Was I up to this daily task? Just the thought of getting Erik’s hilariously phonetical spelling, governed by Swedish letter sounds, up to speed was enough to steer me in another direction. “Hapj brfdaj”? Where do I even start with that?
I had already done my reading, so I decided to do some research of a different kind: I asked my friends, two of which are managing three languages at home.
And despite the fact that I only have five native English-speaking friends here, their answers reached all ends of the spectrum.
Three had goals for their kids; two did not. A different two were satisfied with their kids’ progress in English—interestingly, friends’ satisfaction levels were not correlated to their kids’ skill levels.
Despite the range, I could identify with them all. Here are a few, insightful observations:
“It’s the little details that get fuzzy,” said one friend, “like saying ‘I’ll hop over it’ instead of ‘I’ll skip it.’ My kids don’t hear it’s wrong, and after a while, I don’t either.”
As my friend says this, I wonder if it is even possible for me to give my kids the native ear for the language. Surrounded by Swedish-influenced English mistakes, this seemed to be an uphill battle.
After being here for a few years, another friend had relaxed her expectations.
“I don’t want language to be a source of anxiety for the kids,” she said.
“Now, my goal is to help them develop a base so that, given a transition period, they could adapt to their next English situation.”
One friend found her kids’ difficulties with English was a source of frustration.
“It’s like the communication between me and my kids comes through a filter. When I hear other kids their age back home speaking English, I feel like I’m missing something of my own kids’ true personalities.”
But my goal-free friend who keeps up three languages in her home was much more sanguine:
“They’ll be fine,” she says.
And she should know: she grew up in a Spanish-speaking country, but spoke English around the house with her American mom. Then, she went to college in the US, directly into classes with the other native speakers.
“I won’t lie—my first semester was really difficult. All I did was study, but by the next semester, I was fine.”
Now, she supports both Spanish and English here in Sweden.
“For a long time, my son answered me in Swedish. But a few weeks ago, we spent some time with a Spanish exchange student. Now, he’s switched back to Spanish with me.”
In other words, relax. Don’t worry too much about the future. Det löser sig.
Interestingly, my two friends that were the most satisfied with their kids’ development were those who grew up with more than one language in their lives themselves.
With the benefit of perspective that I lack on this issue, they seem able to embrace their kids’ language as a skilled yet imperfect work in progress.
With all this in mind, I made some process-oriented, measurable goals—things that we’ll do every day to work on English. Because, regardless of any larger goals I decide on, the reality is that I have little control over the end result; that’s up to the kids. It’s the process that’s in my hands.
Research and personal experience suggest that there is no one correct approach; in the end, we are all experimenting, and we have a lot to learn from each other.

Twelve Struggling Students Become Reading All-Stars

Scholastic have a reading system that helps children with English as an additional learn quicker. Below are soem quotes from the children.

ah Azad Age: 13 – Grade: 6 – South End Middle School,Springfield, MA

Originally from Pakistan, Abdullah arrived in the US fluent in four different languages, none of them English. He struggled with English and adapting to American culture after moving here. A quiet, disengaged and distracted student, he scored at a Lexile level of zero on his first reading test. It was in the READ 180 “Stolen Childhoods” workshop, which chronicles the plight of child laborers, that things turned around and Abdullah began to share his story with other students. With a renewed attitude, his reading scores began to rise quickly – from kindergarten to a second grade level. “Now when I do assignments in System 44, it seems easier and I don’t mind answering a question if I am wrong,” Abdullah wrote. “Ever since I’ve been in System 44, English is getting easier and the questions are getting easier.”

Gustavo was a shy kid when he arrived at Elaine Wynn Elementary in April 2011. A child who grew up in a family that spoke only Spanish, his struggles with language zapped his confidence and made learning extremely difficult. For many other children who face daunting language barriers, this would have been too much to overcome. Many students like this become dropouts. He struggled so much that his parents thought he might have a speech problem. But through hard work in READ 180, Gustavo has undergone a rapid transformation and now reads on grade level. “I’m finally noticing improvement in my grades,” he said.

http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/18/4423362/twelve-struggling-students-become.html

Should we pay tutors to teach immigrants their own language?

Has anyone seen this in the Sunday Express today?

http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/314585/We-pay-tutors-to-teach-immigrants-their-own-language

It talks about councils spending money on encouraging the young people to learn their parents language. Tower Hamlets Council spokesman viewpoint is that: “We teach community languages for two reasons: proficiency in a mother tongue aids with proficiency in a second language. “And secondly, pride and knowledge in your own background aids in promoting community cohesion.”

What do you think?