Good Practice – Improving pupils bilingual experience

Estyn highlights the good work at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman and their belief in improving their pupils bilingual experience.

Good Practice - Bilingual Education

Good Practice – Bilingual Education

 

To read more of this report visit  http://www.estyn.gov.uk/english/docViewer/265765.5/improving-welsh-language-provision/?navmap=33,53,159,

If you have any good ideas or see good practice in progress let us know.

 

 

I have a constant change of new arrivals with limited or no English.

Last week I was asked this proverbial question.  It comes up time and again and is increasing as children and society becomes more mobile schools who have had few or non EAL learners are now experiencing a different type of school day.

I left the question for open discussion during the training so that everyone could support the question. 

What came out was a lot of common sense and also positive affirmation that they are not alone. Many schools now find this a termly discussion and those with children from the travelling children experience it more.

Advice ranged from remembering that:

  1. We are teachers and every child that comes into our classroom has the right to an education (not always easy, but we must do our best to achieve this even with limited resources)
  2. You need to assess what they know and move from there otherwise they could present behavioural challenges
  3. When meeting the parent/ ask where they last went to school – if in the same country you maybe able to get some previous records even if limited it will support you a little more in finding resources that match the child’s ability to move them forward.
  4. When talking to parents create an atmosphere that says I am caring and am not prying re. e.g. previous records but I want to help your child. Some do respond.
  5. Invite the parents in, some teachers report creating ICT workshops for parents to meet together and allowed them to email relatives in their previous country or county. One teacher loved sewing so encouraged a sewing and natter group it really improved the parents perception of the school, the teacher has proper time to do some sewing that she could use with the children, the parents English improved and little molehills of problems were discussed and so mountains were reported less and less as the group gelled. It was agreed that if you choose to set up a club starting with something you are interested in then it will work.
  6. Where groups are running well and the people are secure you may pick up titbits that actually when shared help in the school or in your classroom.

If you have any further ideas please feel free to share them with us.

 

 

Bilingual families

A wonderful story about bilingual families.

“They now speak the language fluently, have an understanding of Chinese culture and feel at home living in Beijing rather than seeing themselves as visitors. Laura can write her Chinese name, recognizes many Chinese characters, and can write simple characters.

….That kind of educational program is not for every family. Some expatriates would dearly love their children to learn Mandarin but realistically, have to stick with schools that offer the language of their native country, and a curriculum that is broadly similar to that at home.

…Australian Mathew Alderson has two children in local schools, Nik, 7, and 4-year-old Natalia, and after two years of immersion, can see the pluses and minuses of this kind of approach. There might not be much in the way of touchy-feely teaching methods, but the trade-off is kids who are fluent in Mandarin and whizzes at math.

…So far, Dean is happy with the results. Lachlan, 9, reads and writes fluently in Mandarin and is also fluent in English, while Oliver, 6, can write stories that utilize several hundred characters. The brothers speak English at home with their father and – of course – watch English-language television from Australia, the US and the UK

…Although trips to Australia are infrequent, Dean tries to ensure the boys know all about that country’s culture, history and sport. He has even taught them the words to Waltzing Matilda, Two Little Boys and other classic Australian songs, and explained the rules of cricket.

Read the rest at http://europe.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2012-09/07/content_15742232.htm

Schools set the right tone to help young language learners

Few parents like to be corrected, or contradicted, by their children. But there are exceptions to that general rule: Expatriate parents living in China tend to swell with pride when their Mandarin-speaking children point out that mum and dad are totally mispronouncing words, or hopelessly mangling grammar.

Children born in Beijing, or who arrive in the capital at a very young age, have every chance of attaining fluency in Mandarin. It is not uncommon to see blond-haired children chatting away colloquially, having naturally mastered the tricky tones that adult learners find so fiendishly difficult.

For babies and toddlers, chances are they will spend much of the day with their ayi (domestic helpers), individuals who rarely have any language skills apart from their native Mandarin. Some parents ensure that their kids are bilingual by sending them to schools where classes are given in English and Mandarin.

Australian Laura Faulkner, 6, and her brother William, 4, have attended several such schools, allowing them to switch with ease between English and Mandarin. Their Beijing-born sister Tessa, who is 18 months old, can also understand both languages.

When the Faulkner family moved to Beijing four years ago, hotelier father Michael and teacher mother Michelle viewed it as a great opportunity for their children to grow up speaking, reading and writing Mandarin, skills that are almost certain to be major assets on their resumes in the 21st century.

“We thought it essential that they were able to communicate with other children, in the park or in the playground, and we looked for a bilingual kindergarten,” says Melbourne-born Michelle, who is also studying the language.

“They now speak the language fluently, have an understanding of Chinese culture and feel at home living in Beijing rather than seeing themselves as visitors. Laura can write her Chinese name, recognizes many Chinese characters, and can write simple characters.

Although the Faulkners’ spell in the city will be finite – Michael is manager of the new Swire hotel, East – they are convinced a bilingual education for their children will be beneficial both now and in future.

“The bilingual system is very impressive here,” says Michelle. “The facilities and varied lessons that our kids get here are excellent. They have specialist teachers in art, physical education and music, which supplement the bilingual program.”

That kind of educational program is not for every family. Some expatriates would dearly love their children to learn Mandarin but realistically, have to stick with schools that offer the language of their native country, and a curriculum that is broadly similar to that at home.

International schools in Beijing do make an effort to include Mandarin lessons in the curriculum, scheduling up to five hours of classes weekly, but it is not really enough for the students to reach any real level of fluency, especially if they have limited opportunity to speak the language at home.

Bilingual schooling offers a halfway house where, in theory, youngsters become proficient in both languages. Critics argue that there is a danger of their overall education being diluted by participating in such a hybrid system.

There is a third, more radical, option open to expatriates that pretty much guarantees that their kids will become fluent in Mandarin. Some local public schools have international divisions that accept foreign passport holders, although there is no attempt to modify the local rote-learning system.

Australian Mathew Alderson has two children in local schools, Nik, 7, and 4-year-old Natalia, and after two years of immersion, can see the pluses and minuses of this kind of approach. There might not be much in the way of touchy-feely teaching methods, but the trade-off is kids who are fluent in Mandarin and whizzes at math.

“While we remain committed to the attainment by our children of a high level of Mandarin fluency and literature, after several years of exposure to the Chinese system we are now starting to better understand the price that must be paid for this,” says Sydney-born Alderson.

“It is necessary to compromise on the standard of the children’s English and to accept educational practices which value rote learning over creativity, comprehension and problem solving. Our son is in the first year of school and in order for him to cope with the workload, he now needs a tutor for two hours, three times a week.”

The Alderson children, who speak Russian at home with their Ukrainian mom Sasha, will most likely go to an international school at some future date, which means the annual fees will quadruple. The cost of a year’s schooling at international establishments such as the Western Academy of Beijing, Harrow or Dulwich, nudges the $30,000 mark, almost four times the cost at local public schools that accept foreign students.

One significant factor for parents who ultimately aim to have their children attend university in their native country is that schools such as No 55 Middle School offer the International Baccalaureate system, which is recognized by institutions of higher education in Australia, Europe and the United States.

Whichever system they choose – bilingual education, local school or personal tutor – no parent is likely to regret insisting that their child learns Mandarin. It is certain to be an asset in the 21st century, as China continues to grow, and links with other countries become closer.

Australian Rob Dean – a fluent Mandarin speaker – is determined that his two boys will grow up bilingual.

Both attend Fangcaodi Elementary in the heart of Beijing, a public school that has an international wing, where children of all nationalities receive all their lessons in Mandarin. Dean and his wife Ruan Yixuan reasoned that would be the best way to ensure the boys have total command of Mandarin from an early age – although they may well attend an international school at a later stage.

“I studied Mandarin and have lived in China for 18 years, so I know just how hard it is,” says Dean. “My wife and I discussed their education and we agreed on letting them do their primary education in Mandarin with an eye toward getting a firm grip on the language that will remain with them for life. Obviously learning Mandarin is much easier when your brain is young and free of beer!

“We are a bilingual family. My wife is from Beijing and the kids will always be half-Chinese. Thinking about their future, and the world they will likely be trying to make a life in, having a Chinese heritage, but no language abilities seemed like a cruel trick to play on them.”

For all that, Dean recognizes the drawbacks of the system, in particular the lack of emphasis on creative thinking and the limited sporting opportunities. The school takes the traditional view that children are there to learn as much as possible in a disciplined environment, not to be mollycoddled.

So far, Dean is happy with the results. Lachlan, 9, reads and writes fluently in Mandarin and is also fluent in English, while Oliver, 6, can write stories that utilize several hundred characters. The brothers speak English at home with their father and – of course – watch English-language television from Australia, the US and the UK.

The family is likely to be in Beijing for some years to come given that Dean runs a successful employment communications agency that helps companies attract, and keep, talented staff.

Although trips to Australia are infrequent, Dean tries to ensure the boys know all about that country’s culture, history and sport. He has even taught them the words to Waltzing Matilda, Two Little Boys and other classic Australian songs, and explained the rules of cricket.

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.

http://www.wrex.com/story/19237963/illinois-law-strengthens-bilingual-education

CHICAGO (WREX) –

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

Preparing my child for secondary education

For all of you who are parents of children moving ‘big school’.

kipmcgrathashford

Preparing my child for secondary education.

This is a most fabulous blog from Clare and Martin Rimmer of Kip McGrath Lisburn about the process of transferring to Secondary School.

As the father of a daughter moving to Grammar School in September it has been invaluable.

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