Autism practical support

SSAT – Autism   Not sure if this is useful.

I liked it because there are some practical aspects for it rather than just rhetoric.

https://www.ssatuk.co.uk/programme-to-support-students-with-autism/

Ginny d’Orico, AHT (autism), and Natalie Henry, head of middle school, at times vociferously aided by nine ASD students, gave this presentation on supporting students with autism.

The presenters came from Oak Lodge, a mixed 11-19 special school and specialist cognition and learning college in Barnet. Some of the tips they revealed could be useful to teachers in mainstream in helping their ASD students.

Autism is a condition that makes it difficult for the individual to predict other people’s actions, explained Ginny d’Orico. For example, when talking to someone, people with autism tend to look at the mouth, not the eyes, so missing many cues relating to social information.

“These differences are important for us as teachers: if I’m gesturing to a chair, for example, it’s not obvious to them what I want them to do. A corollary of this is that it is difficult for them to recognise that we are a reliable source of support. This is why group work with ASD students can be difficult.”

Tackling anxiety among students with ASD

She pointed to research in neurology, such as that by Yale University and others, which has shown that it is this difficulty in information processing that leads to raised anxiety, which affects social communication and emotional regulation. So one key element in working with these young people is clear scaffolding in their environment.

The SCERTS programme (Social communication/ emotional regulation/ transactional support) provides the structure for Oak Lodge’s work to enhance engagement and learning among these students.

The teacher gently instructed the group: “hands on knees. Close your eyes. Deep breaths. Imaging sitting on a beach, listening to the waves, feeling warm. You feel calm and relaxed… Now open your eyes. Everyone feel calm and relaxed?”

Practical exercises

It appeared so. The students settled down to an exercise on completing achievement statements. Each student in turn completed sentences such as: “I am better at… using my words”; “I felt proud when… I did something different by coming to the Arsenal stadium”; “Now I can… listen in lessons and not shout out when the teacher is talking.”

The Oak Lodge team uses practical exercises to improve four aspects of SCERTS:

  • Task engagement and functional communications – visual charts attached to key rings and flagging tasks red (to do) and green (done) help here
  • Emotional expression – understanding their emotions and what to do about them
  • Transitions, both between and within activities
  • Interactions: developing a more adult style.

Visual-spatial processing is often a strength among these students, which can be used to help them learn. And students’ special interests can also help functional communication: for example, an illustration of a dinosaur with a speech bubble passing on the message.

In conclusion, Ginny d’Orico suggested four tips for teachers to make clear their intentions and enable students to achieve:

  • Provide visual support
  • Ensure a calm, productive class environment
  • Help students to predict what is expected of them
  • “But don’t say the same thing over and over!”

 

 

 

Benefits of Bilingualism

Brilliant post that explains some of the benefits of bilingualism. They include;

1. A conscious approach can help you clean up your writing and your speech and help you communicate more clearly.

2. Bilingual individuals can pick out a speaker’s voice easier

3. Develop creativity because learning a second language improved speakers’ planning, cognitive flexibility, and working memory, three pillars on which creativity is built.

4. Patients who spoke more than one language had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years after their monolingual counterparts.

and finally

5. Make smarter decisions as people thinking in a foreign language were more likely to consider a question more slowly and analytically than in their native language 

Really interesting thanks to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-roitman/why-it-makes-more-sense-t_b_3435076.html for this story.

Recent research suggests that learning a new language, at any age, not only will enhance your next vacation or better prepare you for an upcoming business trip, it can also make you a better listener, boost your creativity, spur brain growth, and for some people, even delay Alzheimer’s.

Each of these benefits stems from the various ways that language learning improves your brain’s ability to focus. Learning a language physically changes your mind, ultimately making you a stronger, more creative thinker. Here are five reasons why you should start learning a foreign language right now:

1. To improve your communication skills. The key here is consciousness. While most of us rarely think about the grammatical structures of our native tongue, learning a second language brings them into stark relief. When attempting to write or speak in a second language, you suddenly have to focus more on the order of words, your verb tenses, and parts of speech. And in recognizing how sentences are constructed in a second language, you can become more aware of how they’re arranged in your first language. That more conscious approach can help you clean up your writing and your speech and help you communicate more clearly.

2. To become a better listener. A study at Northwestern University showed that bilingual individuals could better pick out a speaker’s voice amidst distracting noises. This superior “attention, inhibition, and encoding of sound,” as the researchers put it, can help you better focus on what a client, boss, or employee is saying. The ability to listen closely is a valuable skill that can translate into a real dollar value. Look at IKEA, which attributes its record 2012 revenues and growing appeal in part to its ability to listen to customers and then respond accordingly.

3. To boost your creativity. Every time you speak a second language is an exercise in creativity. While words in your native language might string themselves together naturally, requiring little effort on your part, constructing sentences and meaning in a second language often requires more conscious thought. A study published last year found that learning a foreign language enhanced people’s fluency, elaboration, originality, and flexibility, the four scales measured by the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking. Researchers concluded that learning a second language improved speakers’ planning, cognitive flexibility, and working memory, three pillars on which creativity is built.

4. To sharpen your mind. Learning a second language can beef up your brain’s executive control center — the hub that helps manage your cognitive processes. A second language offers a strong exercise regimen for the executive control center, ultimately making it more efficient. Bilingualism can keep this center strong even as you age. In a study of 24 million dementia patients worldwide, many of whom also had Alzheimer’s, researchers found that the patients who spoke more than one language had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years after their monolingual counterparts.

5. To make smarter decisions. A study completed last year showed that people thinking in a foreign language were more likely to consider a question more slowly and analytically than in their native language. It seems that thinking in your native tongue is often associated with breezy, emotional decision-making that reveals natural biases. But when considering the same problem in a non-native tongue, subjects in the study demonstrated “enhanced deliberation” based more on cold hard logic. So the next time you have to make a big decision, you might get a better outcome if you consider it in a language other than your own.

As a language learner, you’ll not only become a more conscious thinker and listener who can communicate clearly and think creatively, but you’ll also gain the most significant benefit of multilingualism: a broader, more global perspective. Each of the five benefits outlined above show that learning another language really does reshape the way we think, helping us better empathize and communicate with customers, partners, and employees by adopting, through language, a new way to see the world.

“Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill.” Stephen Krashen

How many children will be glad to know that, how many of us have sat through really boring lessons?  I like Stephen Krashen’s theory because from my experiences it make sense.  Learning in context, using prior learning as a bridge to the next piece of knowledge is how we all learn, yet these building blocks are sometimes forgotten as are the age and linguistic development of the learner at times.

I agree with all of these saying attributed Krashen below and still find it amazing that I have had arguments with head teachers who cannot see the benefit of a safe environment where it is ok to make mistakes. This particular head was definite that no one was allowed to make mistakes….well… we all know no one is perfect, so lets embrace this fact and make it safe to try, with the skills and backup to make sure the mistake is made once and learnt from. I ask all language teachers whatever your situation,  Is your area safe to learn in?? I expect the knee jerk will be yes, but as reflective practitioners lets look at what our evidence tells us, if the children are cautious about trying, then you know deep inside that the ethos or atmosphere is wrong somewhere.

“Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language – natural communication – in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the messages they are conveying and understanding.” Stephen Krashen

“The best methods are therefore those that supply ‘comprehensible input’ in low anxiety situations, containing messages that students really want to hear. These methods do not force early production in the second language, but allow students to produce when they are ‘ready’, recognizing that improvement comes from supplying communicative and comprehensible input, and not from forcing and correcting production.” Stephen Krashen

“In the real world, conversations with sympathetic native speakers who are willing to help the acquirer understand are very helpful.” Stephen Krashen 

Wishing you all Happy Language Learning

How does the bilingual brain store and process two languages? Is it the same or different from how it stores and processes one?

What a lovely start to the week a story that takes me back to my roots.  Weekly readers will know that my interest in bilingualism came when I left Wales due to employment and it was strange that everything was only in 1 langauge in England as well as there were no rugby posts in the fields. Added to the fact that my child was treated as monolingual despite coming directly from a Welsh Medium school and received no support yet if children came into her classroom from abroad there was more than ample provision.

So as you can imagine this story really caught my eye and is interesting as it explores bilingualism a little more to help us all understand the process better.

Recent studies conducted both internationally and here in Wales are showing  that having two languages can impact on the child’s language development,  general abilities, and health and wellbeing in ways that are unique to the  bilingual learner.

In terms of language abilities, some of our most recent research is looking  at the effects of language structure on children’s literacy and self-esteem,  with special focus on those who are learning Welsh and English.

Other studies have looked at young German-Welsh bilinguals’ emergent  grammars, looking for examples of German influence in their Welsh, and Welsh  influence in their German.

Mapping Welsh-English bilinguals’ development of vocabulary, reading and  grammar in Welsh and in English has allowed for a better understanding of the  impact of learning a second language on children’s development of their first  language.

Our results show that learning through the medium of Irish or Welsh at school  has no detrimental effects on children’s development of English.

In fact, the act of switching between two languages and of inhibiting the use  of one language whilst using the other provides the bilingual brain with a  certain level of flexibility that the monolingual brain has to work for in other  ways.

This has led bilinguals to demonstrate superior abilities on general  cognitive tasks that require certain types of processing – an advantage that  translates well into the classroom.

Our studies here in Wales are beginning to show some interesting patterns  that contribute to these findings.

Whether this advantage is present across the life-span for all Welsh-English  bilinguals is yet to be discovered, but should it lead to the delayed onset of  dementia, as demonstrated previously for bilinguals in Canada, the  identification of how, when and where this advantage is present is all the more  worthwhile.

Enlli Thomas is a senior lecturer in Bangor University. Her research looks at  language development and bilingualism in school children in Wales. She can be  contacted at enlli.thomas@bangor.ac.uk

Read more: Wales Online http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/health-news/2012/11/26/speaking-up-for-the-many-benefits-of-being-bilingual-91466-32304491/#ixzz2DJupoGQX

Keep up the research Enlli the more we understand the easier it is to help our students fit into this multilingual world.

More than half of the world’s population is bilingual

Just thought I would share this research – its interesting reading. Professor Grosjean shares his views on misconceptions about bilingualism and bilinguals and also country specific attitudes.

By Professor Francois Grosjean

I have had the chance to live and work for extended periods of time in at least three countries, the United States, Switzerland and France, and as a researcher on bilingualism, it has allowed me to learn a lot about my topic of interest. I have found that people in these countries share many misconceptions about bilingualism and bilinguals but that they also have very country-specific attitudes towards them.

Among shared misunderstandings, one is that bilingualism is a rare phenomenon. In fact, it has been estimated that more than half of the world’s population is bilingual, that is uses two or more languages in everyday life. Bilingualism is found in all parts of the world, at all levels of society, in all age groups. Another common misconception is that bilinguals have equal knowledge of their languages. In fact, bilinguals know their languages to the level that they need them and many are dominant in one of them.

There are also the myths that real bilinguals do not have an accent in their different languages and that they are excellent all-around translators. This is far from being true. Having an accent or not does not make one more or less bilingual, and bilinguals often have difficulties translating specialized language.

Then there is the misconception that all bilinguals are bicultural (they are not) and that they have double personalities (as a bilingual myself, and with a sigh of relief, I can tell you that this is not the case).

As concerns children, many worries and misconceptions are also widespread. The first is that bilingualism will delay language acquisition in young children. This was a popular myth in the first part of the last century, but there is no research evidence to that effect. Their rate of language acquisition is the same as that of their monolingual counterparts.

There is also the fear that children raised bilingual will always mix their languages. In fact, they adapt to the situation they are in. When they interact in monolingual situations (e.g. with Grandma who doesn’t speak their other language), they will respond monolingually; if they are with other bilinguals, then they may well code-switch. Finally, there is the worry that bilingualism will affect negatively the cognitive development of bilingual children. Recent research appears to show the contrary; bilingual children do better than monolingual children in certain cognitive tasks.

Aside from these common misunderstandings, certain attitudes are specific to countries and areas of the world. In Europe, for example, bilingualism is seen favorably but people have very high standards for who should be considered bilingual. The latter should have perfect knowledge of their languages, have no accent in them, and even, in some countries, have grown up with their two (or more) languages. At that rate, very few people consider themselves bilingual even though, in Switzerland for example, the majority of the inhabitants know and use two or more languages in their everyday life.

How about the United States? Einar Haugen, a pioneer of bilingualism studies, has stated that the US has probably been the home of more bilingual speakers than any other country in the world. Bilingualism here is very diverse, pairing English with Native American languages, older colonial languages, recent immigration languages, and so on.

This said, it is not very extensive at any one time. Currently, only 17% of the population is bilingual as compared to much higher percentages in many other countries of the world. This is not due to the fact that new immigrants are not learning English. The reason, rather, is that bilingualism is basically short-lived and transitional in this country. For generations and generations of Americans, bilingualism has covered a brief period, spanning one or two generations, between monolingualism in a minority language and monolingualism in English.

The tolerance that America has generally shown towards minority languages over the centuries has favored the linguistic integration of its speakers. As sociologist Nathan Glazer writes, the language of minorities shriveled in the air of freedom while they had apparently flourished under adversity in Europe.

When presidential candidate Barak Obama stated that children should speak more than one language, he was probably referring to the paradox one finds in this country: on the one hand, the world’s languages brought to the United States are not maintained, and they wither away, and on the other hand only a few of them are taught in schools, to too few students, and for too short a time. A national resource “ the country’s knowledge of the languages of the world “ is being put aside and is not being maintained.

It is important to stop equating bilingualism with not knowing English and being un-American. Bilingualism means knowing and using at least two or more languages, one of which is English in the United States. Bilingualism allows you to communicate with different people and hence to discover different cultures, thereby giving you a different perspective on the world. It increases your job opportunities and it is an asset in trade and commerce. It also allows you to be an intermediary between people who do not share the same languages.

Bilingualism is a personal enrichment and a passport to other cultures. At the very least, and to return to Barak Obama’s comment, it certainly allows you to say more than merci beaucoup when interacting with someone of another language. One never regrets knowing several languages but one can certainly regret not knowing enough.

François Grosjean, the author of Bilingual: Life and Reality, received his degrees up to the Doctorat d’Etat from the University of Paris, France. He started his academic career at the University of Paris 8 and then left for the United-States in 1974 where he taught and did research in psycholinguistics at Northeastern University, Boston. While at Northeastern he was also a Research Affiliate at the Speech Communication Laboratory at MIT. In 1987, he was appointed professor at Neuchâtel University, Switzerland, where he founded the Language and Speech Processing Laboratory. He has lectured occasionally at the Universities of Basel, Zurich and Oxford. In 1998, he cofoundedBilingualism: Language and Cognition (Cambridge University Press). Visit his website at:www.francoisgrosjean.ch and his Psychology Today blog, Life as a bilingual, at: www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-bilingual.

Just interesting reading

teacherhead

This is an excellent book.  It is an attempt to distil the key messages from the vast array of studies that have been undertaken across the world into all the different factors that lead to educational achievement.  As you would hope and expect, the book contains details of the statistical methodology underpinning a meta-analysis and the whole notion of ‘effect size’ that drives the thinking in the book.  There is a discussion about what is measurable and how effect size can be interpreted in different ways. The key outcomes are interesting, suggesting a number of key factors that are likely to make the greatest impact in classrooms and more widely in the lives of learners.

My main interest here is to explore what Hattie says about homework.  This stems from a difficulty I have when I hear or read, fairly often, that ‘research shows that homework makes no difference’. It…

View original post 1,154 more words

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.

Understanding Bilingual Education – research Continued.

A few posts ago I shared the thoughts and research and from the post you could work out what type of bilingual educational establishment you were.  It helped you work out whether you offer  additive or subtractive bilingual education.  The research by Steve McCarty, Professor, Osaka Jogakuin College and Osaka Jogakuin University is really easy to read and interesting at the same time.  This final part of his research offers a questionnaire from which you can gather more evidence about the type of establishment you are to enable you to move to the type of establishment you would like to be.

Worksheet to Analyze Cases of Bilingual Education
We (or I) think that…

  1. Leaders of the society see different languages in their communities as a [problem | resource | right | human right as well as a resource].
  2. The leaders are trying to [change | maintain | develop] the native language use of children.
  3. This education is for language [majority | minority | majority and minority] students.
  4. >Education for these students is mostly in their [native | second | foreign] language.
  5. This education is for the purpose of [assimilation of language minority students into the majority culture | separation of an ethnic group from the mainstream culture | maintenance of a minority or ethnic language | enrichment of language majority students | encouraging linguistic diversity and multiculturalism].
  6. The result of the educational system or outcome for students is [elite (or elective) | folk (or circumstantial) ] and [additive | subtractive | monolingualism, not a kind of] bilingualism.
  7. It is [a strong form | a weak form | not really a type] of bilingual education.
  8. This is because [students may be bilingual but their native language is not used in school | students learn all subjects in their native language | students take some foreign language classes taught in their native language | students learn in two languages but not enough to become bilingual | students can get enough input and interaction in both languages to become bilingual (and possibly bicultural) ].
  9. This type of bilingual education is [submersion | submersion with pull-out or sheltered second language classes | segregationist | transitional | mainstream with foreign language teaching | separatist | immersion | maintenance or heritage language | two-way or dual language | mainstream bilingual]. [If the program is not called Immersion, stop after item #9. If it is called Immersion, add item #10:]
  10. It is [actually enrichment, because the teaching is less than 50% in the second language | partial immersion | total immersion]. It is [not immersion | early immersion (starting around pre-school) | middle immersion (starting around the middle of elementary school) | late immersion (starting around junior high school)].

you can find the rest below or at: http://www.childresearch.net/papers/language/2012_03.html

Introduction to this paper

The aim of this final installment is to activate the information and analytical skills gained in these three papers through lesson plans. The process is to examine the languages used in school systems and to analyze those cases into types of bilingual education. Ten cases are first given, and experience with university classes has shown that there is enough information in these papers for most students to correctly classify the cases into types of bilingual education. The important thing to learn is not the answers to these cases but rather to gain the analytical skills, such as to infer the cause-and-effect relationships between the aims of decision-makers in a society and the type of education that results. In not only these realistic cases but in any situation in the world where enough information is available about the languages used in schools, the whole chain of causation between a cultural way of thinking and actual classroom practices can be discerned.

Lesson Plans to Analyze Cases of Language Use in Schools into Types of Bilingual Education

As a series of class lessons, students first learn and discuss the list of ten “Varying Aims of Bilingual Education” presented earlier. For example, which aims do learners think are beneficial for the whole society? A more advanced activity would be to predict what types of bilingual education or school systems might result from the different aims. Students then use the chart of ten “Types of Bilingual Education” along with the list of ten aims and the further criteria in the worksheet at the end of this paper to analyze the ten “Cases of Languages involved in Education.” The list of aims and the chart of types handed out to students in the author’s classes are bilingual in English and Japanese, adapted from Baker (2001) and Oka (1996), to lighten the cognitive load of undergraduates and to reduce lecturing time. An alternative activity for seminars or conferences would be for individuals to describe the medium of instruction in a school system they know in another region of the world, and then the group could analyze it by the criteria in these papers.

The first chart in this paper describes ten realistic cases in Japan and the world where different languages are connected to an educational system, whether all the pertinent languages are used in the schools or not. That is, the worksheet to follow will allow for the conclusion that a system called bilingual education by local or national authorities is, besides the ten types, not actually bilingual education at all, chiefly because there is only one medium of instruction. The basic exercise of this paper is to use the list of ten aims, the chart of ten types of bilingual education, and the worksheet with ten items to classify the ten cases below into types of bilingual education.

Cases of Languages involved in Education
  1. Native speakers of Japanese start studying English in the 5th grade of elementary school and several hours a week from junior high school. This is because English as an International Language may be valuable for their future studies and career.
  2. Immigrants from South America and Asia are working in a small city in Japan where there are not many other foreigners. Their children can study only in regular public school classes.
  3. There are Korean and Chinese ethnic schools in Japan. They teach Korean or Chinese language and culture. Including Japanese and some English, students may become bilingual or multilingual to some extent.
  4. An American Indian tribe tries to keep their children in their home region, to protect their language and culture, so they teach subjects mostly through their native language, using some English where it is necessary.
  5. In some areas of Africa, black Africans are isolated from government support and suffer from problems like child labor. Their children do not have the choice to study in a regional or international language like Swahili, Arabic, French or English, which could lift them out of poverty. Such African villages must try to conduct their own education in their native language.
  6. Many Canadian Inuit wish to maintain their native language and culture, but also to trade with others in North America. The government recognizes their right to keep their native language and helps their children learn English along with their native language.
  7. Most Canadians speak English, but people in the province of Quebec are mostly native speakers of French. Canada has a bilingual and multicultural policy with both English and French as official languages. Many schools in Quebec conduct classes in English at least half of the time.
  8. Mexican immigrants to the United States are often seen as having difficulty in school and adjusting to American society because they speak Spanish. Many of their children are therefore taught in simple English or regularly taken out of mainstream classes for lessons in English as a Second Language (ESL).
  9. Uyghur children receive education only in Chinese. The government has called it “bilingual education” in a press release that appeared in international news. Recently Uyghur students have been urged to live in dormitories at school and see their parents mostly during vacations.
  10. A small number of American schools form classes with about half English and half Spanish native speakers (or native speakers of other languages, including Japanese). The two languages are alternated in the curriculum, both cultures are valued, and the students can help each other.

Finally, the following worksheet can be used to analyze salient factors involved in any school system and, referring to the previous charts in these three papers, reach a conclusion as to what type of bilingual education the case may represent. The author developed this worksheet to lighten the cognitive load for second and third year university students in bilingualism and bilingual education classes to analyze cases of languages involved in education by just selecting among the choices in boldface type. By simply circling their choices on the worksheet, the students can make a paragraph analyzing any number of cases. Students can work in groups, with one person saying their analysis out loud to the whole class, starting with “We think that …” In this way, second to fourth year students majoring in English usually reach a reasonable conclusion as to the type of bilingual education.

Worksheet to Analyze Cases of Bilingual Education
We (or I) think that…

  1. Leaders of the society see different languages in their communities as a [problem | resource | right | human right as well as a resource].
  2. The leaders are trying to [change | maintain | develop] the native language use of children.
  3. This education is for language [majority | minority | majority and minority] students.
  4. >Education for these students is mostly in their [native | second | foreign] language.
  5. This education is for the purpose of [assimilation of language minority students into the majority culture | separation of an ethnic group from the mainstream culture | maintenance of a minority or ethnic language | enrichment of language majority students | encouraging linguistic diversity and multiculturalism].
  6. The result of the educational system or outcome for students is [elite (or elective) | folk (or circumstantial) ] and [additive | subtractive | monolingualism, not a kind of] bilingualism.
  7. It is [a strong form | a weak form | not really a type] of bilingual education.
  8. This is because [students may be bilingual but their native language is not used in school | students learn all subjects in their native language | students take some foreign language classes taught in their native language | students learn in two languages but not enough to become bilingual | students can get enough input and interaction in both languages to become bilingual (and possibly bicultural) ].
  9. This type of bilingual education is [submersion | submersion with pull-out or sheltered second language classes | segregationist | transitional | mainstream with foreign language teaching | separatist | immersion | maintenance or heritage language | two-way or dual language | mainstream bilingual]. [If the program is not called Immersion, stop after item #9. If it is called Immersion, add item #10:]
  10. It is [actually enrichment, because the teaching is less than 50% in the second language | partial immersion | total immersion]. It is [not immersion | early immersion (starting around pre-school) | middle immersion (starting around the middle of elementary school) | late immersion (starting around junior high school)].

Items 1 and 2 in the worksheet focus attention on the motives of decision-makers faced with different native languages of students in their schools. The first one examines their attitudes, adapted from Ruiz (1984), who held that authorities view language as a problem, resource, or right, with very different policies following from these views. The author sees “language,” which can mean so many things, as referring in this case to different languages in contact or occupying the same space, while, similarly, “right” can more precisely draw from United Nations human rights agreements pertaining to native languages, and from scholarship on linguistic human rights (Skuttnabb-Kangas & Phillipson, 1995). These also bear on the right of authorities in the second item to alter the language use of children rather than maintaining or, in the best scenario for the student, developing L1, which can bolster L2 development as well.

Items 3 and 4 clarify the profile of the students involved from their perspective. Item 5 clarifies the purpose or aim of a school system more specifically in line with the criteria for types of bilingual education. Item 6 probes the likely results or outcomes of a school system for students in terms of types of bilingualism. Briefly, elite bilingualism is for the fortunate majority by choice, hence it is also called elective, whereas folk bilingualism is a common situation that immigrants and minorities find themselves in, not of their own choice, hence it is also called circumstantial (cf. McCarty, 2010, for further details). Additive bilingualism is where the L2 is acquired with no cost to the L1 and therefore beneficial to the person, which is generally the case with enrichment or strong forms of bilingual education. Whereas subtractive bilingualism means that L2 replaces L1, which is detrimental to the person cognitively, and can alienate children from parents and relatives who speak only the L1. Item 6 also includes the option of concluding that the school system is not a case of bilingual education at all, usually because having only one medium of instruction tends to lead toward students remaining or becoming monolingual. The elite/folk distinction often maps onto the additive/subtractive outcome, but there are exceptions such as Separatist bilingual education, so the item is expressed as it is to cover as much as possible the different types of bilingual education.

With item 7 the type of bilingual education can be narrowed down to weak, strong, or monolingual, based on analyzing the previous criteria such as the likely learning outcomes, regardless of what a school system claims to practice. Item 8 offers a range of specific reasons for the item 7 selection and, together with other criteria, leads to the conclusion of the analysis in item 9, namely the type of bilingual education the case represents.

One further option is to add an item 10 for cases where an educational program is called immersion. That is to say, immersion programs have been shown to be effective, but because they are popular and sound attractive, it is not uncommon for school programs to inaccurately claim to be practicing immersion or bilingual education generally, either due to lack of specialized knowledge or because many of the students entering their schools speak different languages or are already bilingual. The strong forms of bilingual education would develop both languages in any case by using at least two languages as the medium of instruction.

Conclusion to the three papers on Bilingual Education

In conclusion, by learning the criteria and analytical skills introduced in these three papers, and completing the worksheet with ten items utilizing the list of ten aims and the chart of ten types, various school systems, such as the ten cases represent, can be analyzed into types of bilingual education.

References

Unless a child understands what’s going on in the classroom, they won’t engage, they won’t attend, and they won’t learn anything.

Interesting news from Australia via Crikeys blog. it discusses the report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs inquiry into language learning in indigenous communities, which of course is really interesting to me.

No English means no future.

We at Fully (sic) completely agree with this opinion: without access to the standard national language, an individual, or more accurately, an entire community of people, will have no prospects beyond the cultural and linguistic borders of their community. The question is how best to ensure that these children learn English. As the report clearly states time and time again, bilingual education, i.e., teaching children for the first few years of primary school in their first language before gradually transitioning into the target language, in this case English, is the proven most effective way to do this.

To see the original http://blogs.crikey.com.au/fullysic/2012/09/18/first-language-education-is-a-matter-of-common-sense/

This is quite a popular story here is another link to a news story  a Report by India Education bureau; Melbourne: A group of indigenous
language researchers from the University of Melbourne is calling on the Federal
Government to implement a proposal to introduce bilingual teaching programs in
some schoolshttp://www.indiaeducationdiary.in/showEE.asp?newsid=15601 “Without a bilingual program, children are being taught in a language they are
not familiar with. This means they often don’t understand what is going on, and
then don’t engage,” she said. This is all too familiar in too many classrooms.

or read further…

As Greg Dickson reported, the report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs inquiry into language learning in indigenous communities, titled Our Land Our Languages, was tabled in parliament yesterday. Education was of course, a central theme of the inquiry and is a significant part of the resulting report.

Of the eight terms of reference of the inquiry, three relate to education. They are:

  • The potential benefits of including Indigenous languages in early education
  • Measures to improve education outcomes in those Indigenous communities where English is a second Language
  • The educational and vocational benefits of ensuring English language competency amongst Indigenous communities

The areas that the committee covered included attendance rates in remote schools, the lack of trained indigenous teachers and the inadequate training of non-indigenous teachers given the context, the lack of language testing to establish just what language a child speaks when entering the school system, NAPLAN and its inherent problems for non-English speaking students, and perhaps most importantly, how best to achieve competency in Standard Australian English (SAE). Bilingual education, as you might expect, features heavily in the submissions, the hearings and the report.

Bilingual education is clearly a hotly debated topic and the proponents and opponents are quite categorically divided. Proponents claiming that bilingual education is beneficial to both first language and target language, while opponents claim that teaching children using their first language is deleterious to the acquisition of the target language and that the best way to ensure that all children learn English is to immerse them in English-language classrooms. One commentator, who shall remain nameless, exemplified this position quite concisely yesterday, even before the report was released:

Two problems with [introducing bilingual education], both likely to cripple the future of the children.

First, finding teachers able to teach in indigenous languages will be fearsomely difficult, and likely to lead to language proficiency trumping any real aptitude to teach.

Second, Aboriginal students out bush must learn to speak English fluently if they are to escape their welfare ghettos and find work elsewhere. No other skill is as important to their future. Language immersion at school is critical to that.

The committee found heavily in favour of the proponents of bilingual education as the substantial evidence submitted clearly shows that rather than being deleterious, the use of the child’s first language in early childhood education had widespread benefits. Attendance rates increase when the child’s first language is used in class, children engage in the class for more sustained periods when they can understand what is being said by the teachers, and above all, competence in both languages is increased:

Incorporating Indigenous languages into the education system leads to an improvement in both Standard Australian English and Indigenous languages and can have many cultural, health and wellbeing advantages. (Section 4.158)

The commentator quoted above mentions language immersion at school as the best way to ensure that children learn English. However this is not entirely accurate. Immersion is known to be the best method for learning a language, but immersion requires to leaner to be completely surrounded by speakers of the target language, hence ‘immersion’. One monolingual English teacher in a classroom with thirty or more children speaking a different language is not immersion – not for the children anyway; it would actually be more accurate to describe it as immersion for the teacher. Bilingual, or two-way education, is the tried and tested effective means of teaching children in communities where English is not commonly heard, and ensuring that they learn the standard language.

Recommendation 14 therefore calls for the provision of adequately resourced bilingual education programs in areas where the child’s first language is an indigenous language, whether that language is a traditional language such as Warlpiri or Murrinh Patha, or a contact language such as Kriol, Gurindji Kriol or Light Warlpiri.

A corollary issue is of course the lack of indigenous teachers, and the almost complete lack of adequate training for all teachers in dealing with English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D). This fact is often cited by the opponents of bilingual education – see above – as a key factor against its provision.

The committee agreed that bilingual education would likely fail unless this shortfall was addressed, and so recommends the development of a national framework of flexible and accessible training for Indigenous people to gain limited authority qualifications to teach, and incentives for them to do so (recommendations 16 and 17) and also, that English as an additional language/dialect becomes a compulsory component for all teaching degrees, as well as retrospectively as professional development for all teachers currently working in indigenous communities (recommendations 21 and 22).

Language testing is another crucial area that usually receives little attention. It won’t matter how well-provisioned an education system is, if the school doesn’t know what language a child speaks upon entering the education system, they will not succeed. Often, children who speak a contact language such as Kriol, are often mistaken by teachers and schools as speaking a poor form of English. The committee recommends mandatory first language assessment for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children entering the school system (recommendation 13). For most communities, I would add, most children would speak a similar language/dialect, with only a few minority cases of individuals whose family have moved, for instance.

Another significant section of the Our Land, Our Language report deals with NAPLAN. Of course, national standardised tests in Australia are conducted in English. This is obviously problematic in contexts where the children who undergo the tests do not speak or understand this language, and the test therefore becomes primarily a test in English literacy. This means that the knowledge and skills the students do have, albeit in languages other than English, are invisible to the tests. The result is that otherwise intelligent children are painted as linguistically deficient, and we see statistics such as the following (for the benefit of the reader I have inserted crucial caveats to aid the correct interpretation of the figures in square brackets):

Across Australia in 2004, 83% of Aboriginal students and 93% of students overall achieved the [English] literacy benchmark for year 3.

But in the Northern Territory, only 20% of Aboriginal students achieved the benchmark [for Standard Australian English]. Less than 30% of children tested for [English] literacy in Years 3, 5 and 7 were able to read or write [English] properly leaving them with [English] numeracy and [English] literacy skills of five-year old [Standard Australian English speakers] when they leave school.

NAPLAN testing for these children is not only pointless, but as the committee found it can also be damaging to these students and can lead to disengagement in education:

In addition to being misleading, in painting a negative portrait of learners, assessments that fail to take account of these issues impact negatively on learners’ sense of worth and ongoing engagement with formal education.

ACTA, submission 72, p. 17.

There is however, a strikingly simple way that will go some way towards fixing this. It is something that experts in the field have been saying for some years, and now it’s also the view of the parliamentary committee: the provision of alternative NAPLAN testing for students learning English as an Additional Language or Dialect (recommendation 15). In concert with a supported and well-resourced bilingual education system in the children’s first language, this would mean more accurate representation of the children’s educational development, without it being clouded by difficulties of translation.

Opponents of teaching children in their first language, at least for the first few years of primary school, often argue that:

No English means no future.

We at Fully (sic) completely agree with this opinion: without access to the standard national language, an individual, or more accurately, an entire community of people, will have no prospects beyond the cultural and linguistic borders of their community. The question is how best to ensure that these children learn English. As the report clearly states time and time again, bilingual education, i.e., teaching children for the first few years of primary school in their first language before gradually transitioning into the target language, in this case English, is the proven most effective way to do this.

It isn’t rocket science; it’s just common sense. Unless a child understands what’s going on in the classroom, they won’t engage, they won’t attend, and they won’t learn anything.

As of this morning, The Australian is reporting that both major parties have expressed their acceptance of the report’s findings and support for the recommendations, at least in principle. We ) welcome this, but urge the various governments to immediately enact these 30 recommendations, and allow the system time to function properly, and we as a nation will eventually begin to reap the multifarious benefits of an education system that is accessible to all, and does not discriminate against entire communities whose first language is not English.

Investigation of cognitive benefits of bilingualism – Sardinian and Scottish v national languages of Italian and English

The International Journal of bilingualism

has just produced its report Bilingualism in Sardinia and Scotland: Exploring the cognitive benefits of speaking a ‘minority’ language

you can get access to it here http://ijb.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/04/12/1367006911429622.abstract

The research reports on a study investigating the cognitive benefits of bilingualism in children who speak the minority languages of Sardinian and Scottish Gaelic, in addition to their respective ‘national’ languages of Italian and English. One hundred and twenty-one children, both bilingual and monolingual, were administered a series of standardised cognitive ability tests targeted at the four areas that have been previously shown to be advantageous to bilingual children in the literature, namely, cognitive control, problem-solving ability, metalinguistic awareness and working memory. The bilingual children significantly outperformed the monolingual children in two of the four sub-tests, and the Scottish children significantly outperformed the Sardinian children in one of the sub-tests. The differences found were largely due to the superior performance of the Scottish bilingual children who receive a formal bilingual education, in contrast to the Sardinian bilingual children who mostly only speak the minority language at home. The implications of the results are discussed.