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.

 

 

Ideas for teaching language.

I saw this great piece in the TES so must share in its entirety as it is difficult to work out which piece to leave out. Even better is the resource to help teach Welsh using Bart Simpson – the children will love it.

 

Role play and toy telephones can help children to learn languages

How do pupils learn a language at school? One topic at a time, with plenty of time to think. But in real life we draw upon several topics at once, thinking on our feet. Revision followed by comedic role play gives children excellent practice in this. Select two or three language points to revise, then set up a brief role play with simple props. Plastic money and toy telephones work well.

Divide the class into groups of three. Each group has a parent, a shopkeeper and a small child who asks irrelevant questions such as “Beth ydy’ch rhif ffon chi?” (Welsh for “What is your phone number?”) The parent and the shopkeeper must finish a task – buying bananas, for example – despite these interruptions.

But they must also answer at least five of the child’s random questions. The others can be answered with expressions such as “Wait a minute”. On the board, list topics that the child could ask about: anything from big noses to boats.

Telephone role play is also fun, and helps children to listen. Pupils sit on their chairs back to back. When shown a flashcard nominating a new conversation topic, speakers must change the subject. This could be as silly as switching from sweets to elephants.

Afterwards, get pupils to write down any words it would have been useful for them to know. Give them the words and get them to write notes on how they could have used them in their role plays. They could even draw simple pictures, with the new vocabulary in speech bubbles.

All these activities practise the target language without the soporific effect of rote learning – though, of course, some repetition is required. But some neuroscientists now suggest drilling in varied ways rather than simply repeating the information in the same format, which can bore the brain. This replicates what happens when we speak a new language in real life, when we adapt to new situations at high speed – just as pupils must do in their role play.

Even panicking in a safe environment can be very funny, while burning the target language into the memory. It shows pupils that they are capable of finding the words when they need to make themselves understood. Children have a natural fearlessness and we should take care not to educate it out of them.

What else?

Talk to Bart Simpson in Welsh in Louisa28’s activity.

bit.ly/WelshWithBart

Teach German numbers in a fun way with a PowerPoint shared by alemanjana. bit.ly/EasyNumbers

Using rhawkes’ resource, introduce pupils to colours and to the verb haben through songs and gestures.

bit.ly/ColoursAndHaben.

Welsh children should all have a chance at bilingualism

Further to my post last week I see this press report from Wales Online again about ESTYN’s findings and the writer supports my belief that we should encourage bilingualism but the policy and strategy for ensuring this including the training of teachers with the level of Welsh needed to be more fluent in English-speaking Welsh schools.

As a parent I for one was pleased that Welsh schools were embraced and that I had the choice of sending my child to a Welsh-speaking school even though English was our main family language. Just as important for my other family members was the choice not to send their child to a  Welsh school but to and English school that taught Welsh. I am sure this is still a really good compromise for most of the Welsh people.

This is just food for thought unless everyone just speaks Welsh in Wales then dual language and the balance between the two must always be measured against the needs of the children and society and not a group that wishes just to promote the language.  Whilst there is a place for this they can alienate if they try to impose their wish. My family members are mainly happy that they speak English and have no wish for their children to learn Welsh apart from an awareness of it and an acceptance of bilingualism.

The report finishes on these notes to which I totally agree.

Whatever action the minister decides to take on the basis of the findings, he  needs to ensure that the excellent work done by his Government doesn’t slip  between the cracks.

 

The Welsh-Medium Education Strategy is a case in point, as are the powers in  the School Standards and Organisation Bill. At long last, the framework is in  place to hold local authorities to account in terms of their Welsh education  strategies – so please, let’s not abandon ship now.

 

For those still young enough to soak it up, to those of us a little more  advanced in our years, including all school staff, the support needs to be in  place to give everybody the opportunity to grasp bilingualism with both  hands.

Read more: Wales Online http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/education-news/2013/01/31/all-must-have-chanceto-grasp-bilingualism-91466-32713956/#ixzz2JdY5Kj5I

 

 

ESTYN – Good practice bilingualism

Team teaching and the pivotal role of the Welsh co-ordinator to implement the clear shared vision has ensured a school in Aberystwyth has developed bilingual practice according to ESTYN.

In 2012, as a result of prioritising bilingualism in the Foundation Phase…the school can now offer pupils a realistic choice of bilingual secondary education as they enter key stage 3 and parents realise the benefits of their children being bilingual in our community.

link to the original report : http://www.estyn.gov.uk/english/docViewer/257739.3/welsh-second-language-comes-first/?navmap=33,53,158,

Ysgol Plascrug is situated in the town of Aberystwyth which lies on the coast of Ceredigion. Approximately three-quarters of the pupils are white British while a quarter of pupils are from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, originating from 38 different countries. Less than 1% of the pupils come from homes where Welsh is the main language. Thirty-five per cent of pupils live in disadvantaged areas and approximately 12% are entitled to Free School meals.

English is the main medium of teaching. Nearly all pupils learn Welsh as a second language. For many minority ethnic pupils, Welsh is a third or even fourth language for them to acquire. The school’s provision and comprehensive professional development programme for all staff in the development of Welsh is judged as sector leading. As a result, pupils’ standards in Welsh second language are deemed excellent.

The school has a firm, clear vision to prepare pupils to become inclusive members of the bilingual society of Wales and nurture pride in the language, heritage and culture of our country. The introduction of the Foundation Phase curriculum also highlighted the need to improve pupils’ bilingual skills at a very early age.

Description of nature of strategy or activity:

This vision is shared with all staff and over recent years has become a high priority in the school improvement plan. In order to fulfill the vision of creating fully bilingual pupils in a natural Welsh ethos, the school is committed to offering excellent provision to its pupils and exceptional opportunities for staff to improve their professional skills in Welsh language provision.

As part of the school’s strategy for raising standards in Welsh, the school improvement plan gives particular emphasis to the continuing professional development of staff.

The Athrawes Fro service provides effective support for Welsh language development on a weekly basis. It complements a team-teaching approach and offers helpful guidance on planning and resources. This allows the school to implement a ‘target group’ teaching approach at key stage 2.

The Welsh coordinator has a pivotal role in planning and integrating the teaching of Welsh.

The governing body recognises the benefits of releasing this member of staff to model good teaching approaches, monitor planning, provision and standards, and provide suitable resources and appropriate guidance and support to colleagues. The enthusiasm and passion of the coordinator is evident as Welsh is increasingly becoming the everyday informal language of the school.

In recent years, the school has focused upon developing bilingualism in the Foundation Phase. Welsh is now used as a medium of teaching for 40% of the timetable. As this progresses throughout the school, there is a direct impact on standards in Welsh and at key stage 2, pupils are able to access more subjects through the medium of Welsh. For example, physical education, art, design and technology and music can now be taught through the medium of Welsh.
In 2012, as a result of prioritising bilingualism in the Foundation Phase, 85% of pupils achieved Outcome 5+ in Welsh second language.
The school can now offer pupils a realistic choice of bilingual secondary education as they enter key stage 3 and parents realise the benefits of their children being bilingual in our community.

Different languages force the brain to perceive reality and describe it in different manners and having a common language erases borders.

Growing up in Wales, speaking Welsh sometimes in school reading bilingual signs for what seems to be forever is what reminds me of my childhood. There was no fear just acceptance that that was the way it was. Luckily at this point I didn’t know about the Welsh not and was horrified when I learnt of it during my late teenage years and remember not understanding why we went through that process in our history.

This news item interested me because the languages that are bilingual are not commonly put together today and also in many ways it mirrors some of the facts and experiences of my childhood where Welsh and English were part of daily life. In my experience some people knew only Welsh, some only English and others were on a path between the two.

Here is the story.

Languages have always fascinated me.  From an early age I realized that different groups of people spoke different languages–and the words they used provided a window into unique worldviews.

This was because I grew up in a bilingual community in Western Kansas.  To visit Hays, Kansas, today, a person might not realize, but in the first half of the twentieth century, a majority of the population did not speak English as a native language, but rather German.  The German speakers were descendants of as group called the Volga Germans, Bavarians who had immigrated to Russia for nearly a century, and then immigrated to the Great Plains of the United States.

My family owned a lumber yard and hardware store.  All of our store clerks were bilingual in German, since most of the farmers only spoke German, and many of the contractors preferred German for their daily needs.  Although my family was also of Germanic origin — we came from Switzerland in the mid-nineteenth century — we had abandoned our language nearly a century earlier.  My father had to make do with what he called “kitchen German.”

My best childhood friend came from a German-speaking family.  Although his parents were fully bilingual, his grandparents much preferred German.  There were kids in my class who spoke a very heavily German accented English, even though they were third generation Americans. In spite of being surrounded by German, it just never found its way into the language center of my brain, except for a few stock phrases, and (sadly) swear words.

As a result of a quirk of fate, my father had begun travelling in Mexico when he was in college, in the late 1930s.  My parents honeymooned in Mexico, and in the early 1950s we began to vacation in Mexico every year at Christmastime.  As a result, from a very young age, I was also introduced to Spanish, and being a small child immersed in the language, I began to pick it up, in a manner that never happened with German for me.

Growing up in a multilingual environment was a gift to me, and certainly affected how I view the world. So it felt natural to concentrate on language during my university studies. I served as an assistant instructor of Spanish and went on to pick up Nahuatl (the Aztec language) as I studied early colonial Latin America earning my doctorate. It was an interesting challenge to learn a complex language like Nahuatl as an adult, compared to how seemingly simple it had been to pick up Spanish when I was a boy.

Growing up in a multilingual environment is very beneficial for the intellectual development of a child.  Folks used to think that if a child grew up in a multilingual home, the child would suffer from never achieving true fluency in either language, or perhaps confusing one language for the other.  Modern research has proven just the opposite.  Children keep track of languages very efficiently.  Rather than diminishing their language skills, it enhances them.  This might be because different languages force the brain to perceive reality and describe it in different manners.  This confirms the old saw: “The brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised.”

My wife and I saw this first-hand.  Our older son was raised in a bilingual environment, learning both Spanish and English from infancy.  When he was a toddler, we had great difficulty when he spoke to us in Spanish, because neither of us had learned Spanish baby talk.  Folks around us had to interpret for us.  As a Spanish teacher myself, it was very exciting to hear our son make exactly the same grammatical errors that his little friends did; errors which a native English speaker would not usually commit when learning Spanish, but perfectly in line with language development in Spanish. His Spanish skills have gone on to serve him very well in adulthood..

The study of foreign languages is simply the gift that keeps on giving.  It provides a person with multiple perspectives from which to view the world.  It actually strengthens the mind.  It allows a person to travel to other countries, which is also a great gift.  Most importantly, having a common language erases borders.  It allows one to put others at ease.

The ability to speak Welsh is not a burden. On the contrary, it is an expressway to cognitive development.

Recently a local Welsh paper shared  story that suggests Welsh speakers are reducing in Wales, but this local person shares statistics that Welsh-speaking is increasing and

that being bilingual is not a burden…It’s a doorway to a multilingual world where the advantage of early bilingualism can be translated into skills in a multitude of languages, placing the Welsh workforce at a great advantage in comparison to our monoglot friends.

Do you agree?

http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/Bilingualism-opens-doors/story-17194411-detail/story.html

Promoting bilingualism supports other language learning

One of the benefits of promoting bilingualism in ones own country I believe is that it gives that underlying support for languages.  It subtly says it doesn’t matter what your first language is we can communicate and are willing to meet you half way. It doesn’t mean we are going to bend over backwards to accommodate you and neither should it influence the countries social, financial or political aims, but, become a tool with which to get a message across to your neighbour.

This story about Canada shows this well. The country is clear that its languages are French and English but that doesn’t stop the need for other languages to be incorporated into everyday lives.  I would suggest that this is very similar to Wales where English and Welsh are the languages within its community for communicating with everyone, but there is still the celebration of other more diverse languages also within each smaller community. Currently they report that almost 200 languages are spoken in Canada and 17.5% of this community are bilingual

In one school that I worked with the Head clearly told all members of our community that the language for communication within our school was English.  This didn’t stop us celebrating Greek and Turkish festivals, Divali or St Davids day or in assemblies sharing another language but what it did do was to make us all richer in the knowledge and cultures of others, less fearful of the unknown and proud of our own heritage wherever that may have been from.

It let me experiment with language allowing me occasionally to call the register and asking the children to respond in their preferred language. Learning how to say a phrase in one language and then everyone in the class to use that phrase for a month. More difficult in secondary when each class would choose  a different phrase so I would have to remember which it was.

Welsh and English become official languages of Assembly as AMs pass historic Bill

Welsh will become officially bilingual with Welsh and English being equal.

Eileen Beasley would have been very pleased I think.

3 October 2012

The National Assembly for Wales has passed the Official Languages (Wales) Bill into law.

In recognising Welsh and English as the official languages once it receives Royal Assent, the Bill will place a statutory duty on the National Assembly for Wales and the Assembly Commission to treat both languages on the basis of equality.

“This is an historic day in the history of devolution and of Wales,” said the Presiding Officer, Rosemary Butler AM.

“Both Welsh and English will now be considered official languages in Assembly proceedings. The Bill places a statutory duty to put them both on an equal footing in the delivery of the services the Commission provides to the Assembly and the public.

“We are committed to delivering exemplar bilingual services. This Bill outlines the principles that will underpin the Commission’s approach to deliver even better bilingual services. Our commitment to the Welsh language can no longer be questioned.

The Commissioner with responsibility for the Welsh Language and the passage of the Bill, Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM said:

“The Bill sets an example for organisations working across Wales within both the public and private sectors about how to approach bilingualism.

“As the Member in charge of the Bill, and on behalf of the Commission, I would like to thank Assembly Members and the public for working together with us on its development. We have listened, and are confident that this legislation makes our responsibilities and our commitment clear for all to see.”

The Bill places a duty on the Assembly Commission to draw up a Welsh Language Scheme to ensure the equal status of both languages.

The scheme:

  1. ·states clearly that Welsh and English are the official languages of the Assembly and should be treated equally;
  2. ·outlines the practical arrangements to enable the Assembly to operate bilingually;
  3. ·guarantees the right of anyone who takes part in Assembly proceedings (witnesses and officials as well as Members) to do so in either of the Assembly’s official languages;
  4. ·outlines how the Assembly will provide bilingual services to the public;
  5. ·outlines how the Assembly’s corporate arrangements enable and support its ambitions to deliver bilingual services; and
  6. ·explains the Assembly’s procedure for dealing with complaints of non-compliance with the scheme, whether made by Members or by the public.

“Our Scheme will demonstrate an innovative and pragmatic approach to the development of bilingual services and build on the high quality exemplar services we currently provide,” Mr Glyn Thomas added.

8 Year campaign led to legal proceedings and bailiffs removal of wedding presents until the council relented.

Sometimes I think it is important to remember what went before.  In Wales bilingualism and letters etc available in both languages in now commonplace but it wasnt that long ago that it wasnt the case as can be seen by this blog.

The blog recounts the steps Eileen Beasley and her husband went to ensure that they received letters in Welsh their first language.

http://www.clickonwales.org/2012/10/the-rosa-parks-of-the-welsh-language-movement/

The Rosa Parks of the Welsh language movement

The Rosa Parks of the language movement in Wales was a polite but steel-willed housewife who, with her husband, refused to pay rates on their house in Llangennech, Carmarthenshire, while Llanelli Rural District Council issued demands in English only.

In this Eileen and Trefor Beasley had, at first, the support of nobody but themselves. They reasoned that as they lived their lives through the Welsh language, and their village was Welsh-speaking, as were the majority of Council members, it was reasonable that they should be able to use the language in their dealings with officialdom.

But the Council, like most others in Wales in the 1950s, had never thought of providing services in Welsh. They flatly refused to comply with the Beasleys’ request, continuing to communicate with them in English only. In this they greatly underestimated the couple’s strong wills.

Bailiffs began calling at their home and removing household goods such as chairs and tables, and then the family’s piano, the carpets, the bookcases and even food from the larder, distraining goods to the value of the rates that remained unpaid.

Having bailiffs in the house was, for the law-abiding Beasleys, a distressing experience, especially as they would arrive without warning and, without consultation, take items of furniture that had been wedding presents.

Legal proceedings for the non-payment of rates were taken against the Beasleys on twelve occasions but still they would not accept demands in English. They could hardly afford to pay the fines, especially as they lived on a coal-miner’s wage and had two small children, and they stoutly refused to do so as a matter of principle.

The campaign that had begun in 1952 came to an end in 1960 when the Council grudgingly issued a Welsh form and the Beasleys promptly paid their rates. In 1958 Eileen was elected as a Plaid Cymru member of the same District Council, where she continued to press for a degree of official status for the language.

In 1962 their determination proved a stimulus to the activities of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society), especially as Saunders Lewis, in his famous radio broadcast of that year, Tynged yr Iaith (The Fate of the Language), singled out the Beasleys for praise and urged supporters to emulate their civil disobedience.

His aim was to persuade Plaid Cymru to adopt ‘direct action’ techniques which would win for Welsh the legal status it had enjoyed before the loss of political independence, a condition he considered essential if the language was to be saved from extinction. But Plaid Cymru felt unable to contemplate unconstitutional methods, preferring to use electoral methods only. Lewis’s other aim was to make the governance of Wales impossible while the authorities, both local and central, refused to employ Welsh for public purposes.

The challenge was taken up instead by the Cymdeithas which, over the last half-century, has played a leading role in the achievement of many important goals in such areas as broadcasting, education, the law, and local government, while Plaid Cymru has been left free to concentrate on its political agenda. Today the language is much more visible and used in an ever-increasing variety of contexts.

The Beasleys’ stand inspired a generation of young Welsh nationalists to challenge the law, for which many were fined and some imprisoned, and they remained heroes of the movement ever after. Trefor spent a week in prison for refusing to acknowledge an English-only fine for the non-payment of road-tax.

Like her husband, who was the very type of a cultured miner, widely read, politically aware and radically inclined, Eileen was highly literate; she published a selection of her short stories as Yr Eithin Pigog (The prickly gorse) in 1997.

At this year’s National Eisteddfod in the Vale of Glamorgan there was an empty stall, representing the Beasleys’ living-room stripped of its furniture, which was meant to be a tribute to the courage and dignity of a couple who were well-liked and generally admired. It was a poignant reminder of what sometimes has to be done to persuade officialdom on a point of principle whenever it is a question of the public use of the Welsh language.

Welsh for beginners – 1

Learning Welsh can be easy and fun so I thought I would have a  go.

There is infact two different dialogues in Wales the North and South have slight variations of similar words.

Lets start with just being able to say Hello.  It may seem simple but there are quite a few different phrases you can use for the same thing.

Helo    –   best used when talking to friends

Bore Da    – to say good morning

prynhawn da   – to say good afternoon

Noswaith dda    – to say good evening

Nos Da    – to say good night

Have a go.