Community Village


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The language show this year in Olympia made me even more aware of the gift of having more than one language. One of the stand's motto was 'monolingualism can be cured', another 'Speak to the Future' ( campaigns to promote the teaching of languages in schools in the UK. Since this September all children in primary schools will be taught a language as the government finally realised that, in a mobile world, a second language is essential for a country's economic development.

The multiple materials available for teaching, the effort and expense involved in learning a foreign language is challenging compared to the facility with which a child learns a language naturally and effortlessly in their home environment. I always remember a beginner adult student in Paris struggling to learn English who told me sadly that his mother was English and he wished she had spoken to him in English so that he wouldn't need to learn it now. When growing up my parents always told me that all languages are useful, I didn't realise how right they were. Sadly, some languages are viewed by the speaker or listener with lower prestige and this can affect the both the listener's and the speaker's motivation to use it.

As Professor Jim Cummins said, (This Place Nurtures My Spirit - Creating Contexts of Empowerment in, to reject a child's language is to reject the child' and to respect a child's culture and language is to respect 'who they are and where they come from'. Culture and language are an important part of one's identity, respecting them are the key to a child's confidence and success. Language is how emotions are expressed, there are words and expressions in all languages that loose their emotiveness and true meaning. It is important that all languages and cultures are valued and given equal status.

How to value a child's language at school:

  1. Find out greetings in home language to make child feel at ease.
  2. Have the classroom rules translated if possible in all the student's languages.
  3. Have a welcome poster on the door with different languages (Mantra publishes a good one at can be obtained from Amazon).
  4. Have the students answer the register in their home language.
  5. Ask the students to share their favourite stories in their home language.
  6. New beginner EAL students can write in their home language.
  7. Have a dictionary for each language in the classroom.
  8. Order library books of each of the languages spoken in the school ( has a good selection).
  9. Have an artefact sharing task, students would bring in an item representing their culture. This could be used for descriptive, narrative writing or poetry connected to the object and is a great way of sharing their culture.
  10. Have a home language assembly once a term where students can share something in their home language, involve parents.
  11. Get parents on board to help translate challenging academic vocabulary into the students home language.
  12. Ask students to find connections for new words in their home languages.
  13. Have a classroom map on the wall with a pin showing where each student is from.
  14. Involve parents in a students learning as positive parents means positive students.
  15. Show an active interest in a child's language and culture.

Think back to when you, as a learner, learnt a foreign language, how did it feel? Have you visited a country when you didn't understand the language, what did it feel like when you didn't understand what people were saying? Immerse your students in a new language for a few moments, discuss how it felt. This would help students understand how it feels for a new EAL student. By showing an appreciation of who they are is an acceptance of who they are and is the key to motivation. The key to the success of an EAL student is through the key to their heart, only when you have found the key will they blossom to their full academic potential. It is not how smart the students are or how academic the teaching is but how valued they feel. In this age of constant appraisals this should be taken on board, as one head of EAL stated she stipulated the EAL lessons should be appraised in a different way due to their different nature.

Further learning - Blog

Created: Mon 5th May 2014

What tools are there if you have a sixth sense that something is not quite right?

At what point does a teacher start to question whether an EAL student’s lack of progress is due to English Language Development (ELD) issues or due to specific learning differences (SpLD).

These questions come up again and again. Learning English as an Additional Language is not a learning difficulty, however 20% of EAL students will follow the norm of having specific learning differences (Chapter 1, SFR24/2012, GovUK). Therefore, there is a possibility that an EAL student has SpLDs.

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Created: Sun 15th Apr 2018

The popularity of bilingual schools is increasing. This can be seen, for example, in the growing number of French schools in London, where the students follow a bilingual programme.

In many countries there is an emphasis on learning two languages (The Linguist, 2017). In Scotland in 2011 the government pledged to follow the European model of 1+2 languages. Every child would learn two languages in addition to their mother tongue, to celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity and thus facilitate the inclusion of other languages within the school.

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Created: Mon 29th Jun 2020

Transitioning successfully between extended home and school learning has been the struggle of every affected school, across the globe, since the onset of the pandemic. None of us could have predicted what was about to happen back in January of 2020 and we still struggle to comprehend the enormous scale of the struggle.

School closures, however your school has approached these, have had a huge impact on learner engagement. Even the most prepared schools have struggled to engage learners to the same extent as when learning in the classroom.