Community languages not supported in UK education system, survey suggests

The Guardian is reporting research that suggests despite the fact almost one in five young people have a first language other than English, their skills go unsupported and unrecognised by exam system…

Most young people in Britain whose native language is not English believe speaking a second language is an advantage in life. However only just over a third take a qualification in their mother tongue, according to a Guardian/ICM poll.

Despite the fact that almost one in five pupils in primary schools in England now has a first language other than English, the findings suggest that the linguistic capabilities of the majority of those students will go unrecognised by the exam system. And while a majority view their home language as a plus, almost four in 10 do not.

The survey comes amid high-level pressure for wider recognition of the language skills of young Britons. In a Guardian interview earlier this year, Cambridge University vice chancellor, Professor Leszek Borysiewicz called for a greater focus on developing bilingualism in Britain, including increasing opportunities for children to take qualifications in their home language.

In its report Languages for the Future, the British Council highlighted the need for schools, educators and parents to utilise the language skills of the UK’s diaspora and minority communities, warning that failing to do so was a waste of resources…

The findings are echoed in a recent film produced by Cambridge University’s bilingualism network in which students argue for a wider range of qualifications to reflect their skills…

Most study of home languages in the UK takes place at so-called supplementary schools – usually community-run institutions offering classes at weekends to help children study a home language and culture. There could be potential for supplementary schools – believed to number over 3,000 in the UK – and mainstream schools to work together, Anderson suggested, to allow the latter to broaden the range of their language offer and encourage the valuing of literacy in all languages.

In the absence of a ladder of qualifications, a European community framework of language competency could be used by both types of school as a structure for students of community languages, he added. An electronic portfolio in which students can record their work is also being explored to fill the gap…

More at: Community languages not supported in UK education system, survey suggests

 

It does seem both a waste and unfair on the children involved that they cannot or are not getting qualifications to recognise their language proficiencies. Any thoughts on the potential solutions suggested, or others you can think of? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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Comments

  1. Britinfloridaus

    I know schools have stopped some languages as it was difficult to recruit teachers who could teach the subject well.

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