Language diversity & bilingual ed. in UK
- FYI (fwd from MultiEd-L)... DZO
Study Highlights Language Diversity
by Laura Elston
Children in England speak at least 300 different languages between
them, a study showed today.
But the educational value and business potential of such diversity is
CILT, the national centre for languages, found that the UK's
linguistic map was changing, and the number of community languages
being used ones other than English and Welsh was on the increase.
The examination of language trends also showed that inScotland, 104
languages are spoken among 11,000youngsters, while in Wales, 8,000
children amassed at least 98 languages.
Areas traditionally associated with a small range of languages are
becoming more diversified.
Five years ago in Wrexham, few languages were spoken in schools, but
now there at least 25 across the local authority, including
Portuguese, Polish, Tagalog and Shona, CILT said.
In the Scottish Borders, Russian and Portuguese-speaking families have
moved to the area to work in the fishing industry.
Exam chiefs expressed concern last month over sharp drops in the
number of GCSE students taking modern languages, which is no longer
compulsory after the age of 14.
But CILT called for schools to harness the linguistic talents that
already exist, such as knowledge of Panjabi and Somali.
It said that Urdu, Turkish, Chinese, Bengali and Arabic were likely to
be on the list of languages of most benefit to the economy, trade and
international relations in the 21st century.
Isabella Moore, director of CILT, said: "This summer business leaders
drew attention to our country's need for capability in a wider range
"Yet 9% of our secondary school children and over 10% of primary
children already speak another language at home, and many more have
one in their family background.
"By encouraging students to develop their existing knowledge we will
be building up an important skills base, as well as raising
Joanna McPake of Stirling University, who led the research study,
said: "There is a huge body of research testifying to the benefits of
bilingualism for educational development.
"Yet our survey has shown that schools do not always appreciate the
value of maintaining and developing language skills other than English.
"In addition, both mainstream and complementary schools underestimate
the practical value of other languages for students' future careers."
Ethnic minority communities currently teach 61 different languages,
while mainstream primary and secondary schools offer at least 35
languages either as part of the curriculum or as after-hours provision.
The research warned that it is becoming more difficult for communities
to help children study other languages, with second or third
generation community speakers needing more help because some may not
The increase in the number of languages in certain areas is due to
factors such as local industries attracting people to new areas and
the arrival of the children of refugees, asylum seekers and also
economic migrants from different parts of the EU.