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

Geddes Elementary: Dual Language Early On Reaps Benefits Later

I thought I had posted this last week but the letter gremlins seem to have taken it away into space.

“It’s important for me, because my children are from here. I’m from Mexico, and I want them to know their origins,” said Ana Lepe, speaking in Spanish. The 40-year-old mother of three has sent all of her children to Geddes because she also believes being bilingual will help them get better jobs in the future.

I liked this story because this school is obviously one where bilingualism is really treasured and supported by all within the community. Once again the question of jobs when the children reach school-leaving age are a focus, but sadly this is often forgotten by the policy makers.

What is useful for teachers is If you go through the links there is also a video showing how some of this is achieved.

“There’s a lot of research now that shows that dual-immersion programs/bilingual programs are teaching kids to read better,” she added.

One reason the dual-language program works at Geddes is because it’s one part of a strong academic structure, school officials say. Castro is obsessed with data: Teachers give assessments every two weeks in math and reading to see how their students are progressing and where they might need help.

As bi-literacy starts to become popular and general literacy is a focus in both USA and UK schools there are some lessons that can be definitely learnt from this school. Especially those wishing to become strong free bilingual schools.

The initial news story is interesting but if you go into the school website there are some amazing facts about their achievements.

http://www.educationnation.com/casestudies/geddes/index.html

10 % OF PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS ARE ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS.

The Challenge: For English Language Learners, mastering the language is even more difficult if they struggle with their first language.
The Solution: At Geddes Elementary School in Baldwin Park, Calif., young students in the dual-language program are taught in Spanish 90% of the day until third grade. This approach has led to significant achievement gains, with 60% of third-graders scoring proficient or above in English language arts in 2011.

RESULTS: TEST SCORES

Geddes Elementary School’s API score (California’s system for rating schools based on reading and math test scores) rose from 678 to 838 over four years, exceeding the state target of 800. Proficiency on English language arts tests doubled to 62 percent, and the percentage of the school’s students who are proficient in math rose by half, to 74 percent.

RESULTS: ATTENDANCE & DISCIPLINE

In the 2005-06 school year, 391 students (out of 901) had unexcused absences or were tardy at least three times at Geddes. The truancy rate was 43 percent. In 2010-11, by contrast, 192 students (out of 703) had unexcused absences or were frequently tardy. The truancy rate fell to 27 percent.

RESULTS: PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT

Parental participation went from only a handful of parents regularly visiting the school to between 40 and 50 attending monthly meetings with the principal.

The original news story can be found here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48897100/ns/today-education_nation/

The school information can be found here:

http://www.educationnation.com/casestudies/geddes/index.html

 

International company moves to area with more bilingual speakers.- USA

Many people argue that there is no point in keeping the learners first langauge alive as “they are in our country so they should use our language”.  There has not really been a  good reply, but this story shows how keeping the language alive allows companies to grow and become successful, and also regionally it can keep jobs in a certain area. Thinking of the amount of money it costs councils etc to attract companies the last thing they want to do is lose them.

It all stems from Chiquita Brands moving it headquarters from Cincinnati to Charlotte as they have more bilingual speakers. Cincinnati are fighting back by creating a database of Bilingual speakers.

http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/29baffe64a8542b086fa94c0ac314855/OH–Cincinnati-Hispanics

CINCINNATI — A Cincinnati business group has launched a searchable database of the region’s multilingual students and professionals.

The Cincinnati USA Hispanic Chamber said it will spend the next few months building the database. Chamber president Alfonso Cornejo told The Cincinnati Enquirer that the goal is to connect those with language skills with companies and organizations who work with diverse domestic markets or operate internationally.         It’s meant as a development tool, and also to showcase the Cincinnati region’s resources. It’s expected to be available for searching by next February. He hopes to have 5,000 people registered within three years.

The database is being developed in partnership with Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. The chamber’s corporate partner members, universities and churches will have unlimited access, while others will have limited access, Cornejo said.

The project was triggered partly as a response to the decision by Chiquita Brands International last year to move its headquarters from Cincinnati to Charlotte, N.C., which has more bilingual people. The banana company cited that as among the reasons it made its move.

Some 5 percent of Cincinnati residents speak a language other than English. While the database can’t increase Cincinnati’s bilingual rate, it will help businesses like Chiquita locate those with language abilities.

“We were very frustrated that we lost Chiquita brands,” Cornejo said. “In the opinion of (Chiquita chief executive officer Fernando Aguirre), there was not enough bilingual talent in Cincinnati compared to Charlotte. Up to a point, he’s right. But we intend to overcome that.”

Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com

Are we Speaking the Same Language?

As a new teacher I found my first job in a multicultural school, it was mainly Greek Cypriot with some Asian languages.  I was initially concerned as although I spoke English with a smattering of Welsh my Greek, Turkish and Urdu were non-existent. I was worried, but my Headteacher was very clear that whilst all languages were celebrated the language for teaching and learning was English.  There was no debate and everyone adhered to it…surprising for teenagers …they tried to push the boundaries but not on this front.

This question is similar but relates to the world of work, and the same really applies.

http://www.boston.com/jobs/news/jobdoc/2012/09/are_we_speaking_the_same_langu.html

I supervise a team of bilingual employees.  They were hired in part due to their language skills, as our company has found our customers require services in English and Spanish.  I am not bilingual in Spanish.   My employees often speak Spanish with each other for both social conversations and business matters.  This prevents me from being able to understand their conversations.  I would like to think this is not done specifically to exclude me, but I do not believe that to be the case. Sometimes when I leave the ‘floor’ after a talk with the employees about work issues, the conversation is all Spanish. How should I handle this situation?  Should I acknowledge this at all?  What is the standard etiquette in work places for bilingual people?

A.  As the work place continue to become more global, more languages will be used in corner offices, conference rooms,  golf courses,  men’s and women’s rooms – all the places business is conducted.  And you will have skills managing multi-lingual employees which can serve you well in your career, or not, depending on how you handle this situation.
Some people worry that people speaking another language around them may be talking about them – in a derogatory fashion.  And I am sure sometimes they are, which they would anyway (in any language) once people are out of earshot.  Most often they are not, and are focused on work, or returning to a conversation they had been involved with prior to someone’s arrival.  You may share this fear, coupled with a concern your work group is excluding you.  Are they giving you other indications of excluding you?  Your relationship can be strengthened so you feel more confident about their respect for you and the expertise you bring to the work team.

You have a great opportunity to acknowledge the value your staff brings to the success of the company because of their language skills.  You can also let them know you envy the fact that they speak a second language spoken by so many, and their ability to transition from one language to another based on customer need. This recognition of another language as a significant asset can be the first step in strengthening your relationship with your team. Do not let this issue become a “you” vs. “me” issue.  As a leader you can determine the etiquette of employee behavior with their input, by focusing on the shared goals of customer service, comfort and effective employee teamwork.

If an English speaking customer is being supported, or there are non-Spanish speaking staff in the area, English should be spoken by as many people as possible.  If Spanish is being spoken, the same can happen. If you are in the area, English should be spoken so that you are welcomed into the conversation, and you can offer expertise and support to work related issues. Your staff can discuss the complexities of making this happen, and any obstacles they may face to maximizing customer support and colleague comfort.

You can ask for an all English speaking policy, which does nothing to support your business needs, and shows a lack of respect for some of the skills which brought your staff to your firm.  It has been done, and will continue to be done in many work places though there are much better choices.

You can embrace the diversity of language within your work group, and make the efforts to learn work-related phrases and more.  Developing your skills in this area might make you less nervous about what might be said about you, and more invested in the greater business benefit having a talented work force offers.

Given the lack of bilingual English graduates, is learning a language an alternative way to stand out?

Now that the stress of results are over here is one compelling story giving graduates the reason to look at choosing languages for their degrees or part of their degree portfolio. It is always hard choosing subjects to take and it never gets easier, but thinking ahead to the world of work and globalisation maybe languages should become a necessary option for most.

Settit Beyene discusses her case for Universities to support language learning more. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jul/19/optional-language-modules-degree

Given the lack of bilingual English graduates, is learning a language an alternative way to stand out?

Clara, a recent graduate who is now working in marketing, puts her job success down to her degree choice – French. “My language skills definitely made job hunting easier. Being able to speak French is a skill that I have over other graduates and being able to deal with international clients is a boost to my company.”

But what about students who are studying different subjects? Given that only 38% of Brits speak a foreign language (compared to 56% of Europeans), it’s unlikely there are many polyglots among us.

If you’ve got enough self-motivation, it is possible brush up your language skills in your spare time. There are plenty of free online resources available, and you could even travel in your holidays to practise conversation skills.

But let’s face it, when term gets busy, hobbies drop further down the priority list. Wouldn’t it make more sense for universities to allow undergraduates to study optional, foreign language modules as part of their main degree?

The University of Southampton is just one institution that is already doing so. It’s helping to facilitate language learning and boost employability by offering courses such as “French for marine scientists” and “German language for engineers”.

University is the perfect time to learn a language. Most students have fairly flexible schedules, and universities can offer plenty of support.

You don’t need to be fluent in a second-tongue to boost your chances in the job market. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found that 74% of employers recruit applicants with conversational ability rather than those who are word perfect. They believe this can “help break the ice, deepen cultural understanding, and open business access to new markets.”

Deborah Till of the University of Nottingham careers service says language is becoming a top priority for companies. “Increasingly, multinational companies value language skills as an added extra when considering applications.” Law firm Eversheds is among those awarding bonus points to applicants with foreign language skills.

Of course, it’s not just the business world that values bilingual employees. So why is it that more universities aren’t offering flexible degrees?

When £9k fees are introduced, perhaps universities will be forced to look more closely at enhancing students’ employment prospects. Language skills are one way to get there.