Teachers what help should I expect for a non-English speaking child from the primary school?

(48 Posts)
rrbrigi Fri 05-Apr-13 10:58:52

My son is in Reception (he is a summer born). He speaks good English but not as good as his peers. He was born in England; he went to an English nursery (Montessori) when he was 2. But we do not speak English at home, however he watch tales in English. We want him to learn his mother language perfectly. And it seems to me he is better in his mother language in each way (math, reading, speaking, listening, comprehension, etc?). I think because all of the homework the school gives us and any more learning we do at home, we do it in our language.

He is very good in the school, I have no any concern that he would be behind his classmate, however I think he could do a lot better if his English would improve rapidly. His teacher told me they do not give my son any support, because they do lots of speaking in Reception as a whole class and in groups so she think giving my son support would not help him, because he listen and speak English in the class anyway. I do agree with this in one hand but in the other hand I think if he could get a 1 to 1 teacher for a half or 1 hour a day to speak with him in English would help him, because he do need to listen and answer for that teacher even if he does not want or if he is a bit slow. I did ask the teacher that if my son would be in Year 3 or 4 with the same gap between his English and his classmate English would the school give him extra help, and she said yes.

So I am just interested that should I expect more help from the school or it is normal in England? If I should expect more help what kind of help is available?
Thanks.

lougle Fri 05-Apr-13 11:11:29

Could you try doing his homework etc., in English and use your mother language for extras and 'life'?

lougle Fri 05-Apr-13 11:12:27

Forgot to say, that schools have to be very careful, because the SEN Code of Practice very specifically makes the point that having English as an Additional Language should not be considered a Special Need.

rrbrigi Fri 05-Apr-13 11:31:36

Yes, it should not be considered as a special need, but each school has a teacher who deals with children with English as an additional language and I know lots of children get help from the school.

My son is 4.5 years old. I think in this age it is very important to learn the language (English) properly. They learn to read, spell and write. Imagine if I teach him spelling or reading with my pronunciation, when I do not know how to pronounce the word properly how should I teach him reading and tell him that he read a word in a correct way or not. I do not think my English would be helpful for him to develop his understanding, comprehension or story telling skills in English.

blueberryupsidedown Fri 05-Apr-13 11:39:10

DH works in a primary school where many children join the school mid year who don't speak any English at all. They do receive help for the first week, and are given time to adjust. But if a child speaks and understand English as a second language they don't receive help. For example, when he was teaching year 6, twin boys from Brazil joined his class, they could not understand a word of English. The school offered good support for them, especially as they were moving to secondary school only a few months down the line. But if a child speaks a first language at home with family but understands a bit of English when they start school, they don't receive help. Otherwise, about 80% of the nursery children at his school would be receiving extra help...

blueberryupsidedown Fri 05-Apr-13 11:46:25

Oh forgot to say, if your son is identified as having problems with reading, understanding phonics, etc he should be given help, not at the start of his schooling but when he needs it.

Also, what I would recommend is that even if your English is not perfect, do speak with him in English . In no time at all he will be telling you which mistakes you make! Check if your school offers extra help for parents to understand phonics. My DH's school offers regular evening sessions to help parents understand the phonics method. Or you could buy a CD, such as this one, to help you understand the method and pronounce the sounds correctly: www.amazon.co.uk/Jolly-Songs-Phonics-Laurie-Fyke/dp/1844140695/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365158640&sr=8-1&keywords=cd+phonics

Or check this on youtube, I think he's a bit odd but my kids like him: www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlTw0oiLNys

LeeCoakley Fri 05-Apr-13 12:00:02

Being immersed in the language all day is good anyway. Adults in the school will talk to him and will repeat back correctly any tenses that he gets wrong. There's nothing stopping you getting an adult to talk to him yourself if that's what you think would be helpful. The school will give extra support if and when they think he needs it.

rrbrigi Fri 05-Apr-13 12:06:08

Thanks for your answer. My son school is mostly British. The English as and additional language children number is below 5%. But this number also include those children who speak perfect English and whose parents speak perfect English as well, just their moved to the UK when they were young (so they already went through the UK school system).

I had a bit of knowledge about phonics, reading etc... But for example to say bad, bed or bird and beard is the same for me. How should my son decide which letter a or e should he write down? Also there are some sounds that I could not pronounce perfectly, because we do not have these sounds in our language. He does not need help with phonics, writing, reading etc… he is ok with these, only if he could improve his English. Don’t misunderstand me, his English is good, he can follow command, understand what the teacher and children say, he just need some help with the English that you use for retell a story, or with words that we use in tales. So for example he know what run means but he cannot tell “run” in 10 different ways to help his story telling or writing more interesting.

trinity0097 Fri 05-Apr-13 12:37:45

That kind of thing will come with age, many uk children with English as their first language at that age would be using 'boring' language. Improved vocab will come with reading a variety of texts and being around people speaking English.

clabsyqueen Fri 05-Apr-13 12:48:42

I have to very strongly disagree with blueberry. Do not talk to your child in English! Use your first and strongest language. It won't be long before you are fighting to keep him interested in his home language because he will come to feel very comfortable with English. It is not usual to give extra support to a child in reception. If they are at the early stages of gaining a second language - immersion in english all day is the best way to start. In my school 70% of the children arrive with English as their second language. 1:1 teaching would not be possible. Difficulty learning is different to learning English and that should be monitored too but if he's doing well in his home language then he should be fine. I'd like to repeat: DO NOT USE ENGLISH WITH YOUR SON!! grin

blueberryupsidedown Fri 05-Apr-13 12:53:29

Errrr. Ok!

In my own experience, and many of my friends, I spoke French to my children at home, they both understand and speak (ok) French, but I have always read them books in English, sang nursery songs in English alongside French. We do live in the UK.... just a tought...

trinity0097 Fri 05-Apr-13 14:30:45

I agree with blueberry, if you want your child to be able to read and write in English without it sounding stunted then they need the opportunity to converse in English on a frequent basis. That's not to say that you shouldn't keep up the other language, but perhaps do English in the mornings before school for the getting up, breakfast, on the way to school, and other language after homework/reading is finished in the afternoon/evening.

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 14:37:53

Lots of "experts" suggest only using the home language in the home but in my admittedly very limited experience the few hours exposure to English in school isn't enough to ensure fluency.

SsimTee Fri 05-Apr-13 14:54:47

I'm probably going to get slated for this, but here it goes anyway. NO, you absolutely should not expect your school to give any extra help (definitely not a 1 to 1) for your child if you don't even speak English at home. You seem to be able to write decent english so if you can't make the effort to speak to him in english at home then why do you expect somebody else to? By the way I'm a foreigner myself (my husband is English, kids half and half) but I made damn sure that since we are living in the UK my kids spoke English first before my mother tongue. Stuff like this really winds me up because it gives all foreigners a bad name. You shouldn't EXPECT anything. You want him to be good in his mother tongue, but he's living in the UK, so English should be just as important. And it's your job to teach him not the school's. Your child is not Special Needs so he shouldn't get any Special Treatments.

NonnoMum Fri 05-Apr-13 14:57:42

I think there is educational research that suggests it is a very good idea to keep up your home language as it helps with cognition - the English will come.

You sound like a lovely parent... Good luck! x

MTSgroupie Fri 05-Apr-13 15:19:49

OP - Ok this isn't a AIBU thread but YABU to expect the teacher to dedicate 121 time each day just because you don't want to speak to DC in English at home.

blueberryupsidedown Fri 05-Apr-13 15:20:10

The thing is, all parents want to help their children read and write, at home, supporting the work that is carried out at school. If a parent decides not to speak English at home, how can they provide the right level of support? We do lots of reading with our children at home, in English, and phonics, and spelling, and maths. If you speak English, which you do, then use it to help and support your child's learning. Don't expect a state school to do it for you.

I have a son with special educational needs. His condition is diagnosed, supported by many reports written by many experts, and we still have to fight for every bit of help that he gets at school. I think that parents who expect that a child who has English as a second language should not assume that a state school will provide a lot of extra support, especially if parents can provide that support themselves.

clabsyqueen Fri 05-Apr-13 15:41:44

In my experience (5 years teaching EAL children) the children who's parents speak only the home language at home do best in English schools. Families who mix languages at home seem to do less well (learning English that is). This is not a hard and fast rule only a general trend I've noticed.

BackforGood Fri 05-Apr-13 15:50:02

He sounds like he is doing absolutely fine for Reception. In my LA the additional support is directed towards newly arrived teenagers. Little ones - even those arriving at school with no English - will pick up English a lot more easily. As long as the classroom has lots of good visual support and teaching, then he'll be fine.

Periwinkle007 Fri 05-Apr-13 19:30:59

Even complete fluent English speakers at that age won't know different words for something, they will have relatively simple plain language. My daughter's year is something like 55% English as a second language but the only children receiving specific support are two who have actual SEN problems. I would be quite put out if all the non English speaking children received extra support when my child (who has visual processing problems even though she is a very good reader and ahead of the others in the class) doesn't receive any extra support.

The families at her school mostly speak their own language at home but from what I know of them they do all school work in English, reading stories in English, discussing what has happened in English etc. They then use their language for reading some books, general day to day chatter and so on. This seems to work very well. Many of the families also try to make an effort that they speak to the child in English at drop off and pick up time but then on the way home presumably speak their own language.

My mum was a teacher in a school with a high percentage of non English speaking families, many where neither parent spoke any English. The children managed but found it hard until it was suggested that all school work was done in English so the families used an auntie or uncle, older sibling etc to help with that. It meant the child would read their reading book in English and then discuss the comprehension side of it in English. It made a huge difference to the children's understanding. They then happily could speak just their family language at home otherwise.

That would be my personal advice, especially given that you do speak English so well. Also remember many many children in this country have accents of different sorts, ask a Scottish child to read a word and it will sound completely different to a Welsh child or a child from Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bristol, Cornwall, London and so on.

Ferguson Sun 07-Apr-13 18:18:18

Hi - exTA (male) here -

When I retired as a TA I continued to do voluntary work in primary schools. I did a lot of concentrated work with a Yr1 Polish boy, using a CD ROM Polish/English dictionary and encyclopedia. Because I tried to extend his English as much as possible, eventually he ended up speaking English more accurately than some of the English kids, who only heard POORLY spoken English at home.

Perhaps you could find a CD, DVD, or on-line site that uses your mother language AND English to help improve pronunciation, and learn more about the language.

In English we do have lots of VERY SILLY sayings, that must seem crazy to people from other countries : "over the moon"; "could eat a horse"; "raining cats and dogs"; "pulling your leg"; and there are many others. Even one of the school books about a jumble sale had a "white elephant stall" in it (a stall where unwanted presents or objects are sold).

noramum Sun 07-Apr-13 19:54:28

My DD is bilingual, German/English but English is her main language. We speak German at home to her and she answers back but homework is done in English. Main reason, she needs to understand what the teacher wants, she needs to learn reading and writing in English, her second mother tongue comes second place to homework.

If you want your child to succeed than you need to help him with the school language. Look at Jolly Phonics videos or Alphablocks together so you can learn the sounds as well.

This doesn't mean you or your DH need to swap fully to English but if you concentrate on homework it will bring him along a lot.

LadyBarlow Sun 07-Apr-13 21:34:15

I'm a Reception class teacher & I think the school is right & that your DS doesn't really have additional needs that would warrant 1-2-1 support on a daily basis. At his age, he is very likely to pick up language & local authorities would be focusing money & support on older children arriving in the UK with no/very limited English. I'm sorry to be blunt but at his age with obvious ability he just wouldn't be of enough concern for additional support.
I've taught in a large multicultural primary where we had children with lots of different home languages & we only had our teaching assistants who spoke Urdu & Arabic, we just had to manage for less common languages- & that's in a very large city!
I now have lots of Eastern European children & because they are clearly intelligent children who play appropriately & interact socially there is no concern from the LA team (or from me)
All these children have picked up English well & have had group sessions on a daily basis- but there would not Be time, money or staffing for this on an individual basis.

RiversideMum Mon 08-Apr-13 08:10:36

Agree with LadyBarlow. If your child is writing stories and your concern is about picking rich vocabulary, then he is certainly not going to be on anybody's radar in terms of needing additional support. I'd guess that, contrary to your view that his English is not as good as his peers, that in fact there are likely to be some children in the class with speech and language difficulties who probably do not have the command of language that he has. The best thing to check with the teacher is that he is friends with good language role models and to cultivate his friendships outside of school hours.

sashh Mon 08-Apr-13 09:11:53

I wouldn't worry about him in school. He will be fine.

But, I would advise that you do speak some English at home. This is because I teach a lot of teenagers with fluent English but they only know how to speak to other teenagers.

They do not have the range of 'registers' that natives have. So they can be respectful to their elders in their native language but not in English.

Obviously it depends on the local accent and words, but I have had teenagers say a 'innit' after every utterance. Which is fine with other teenagers but not in a job interview.

As a second language learner you will have been taught the correct grammar.

The other thing I have encountered with ESOL students is that if they only come across something in 1 language then they do not learn the word in another language.

So I knew a 5 year old whose mum was a SAHM who spoke to him in Dutch, but when his father came home they spoke English together.

The child was fluent in both languages but odd words, such as 'vacuum cleaner' he did not know in English because his mum did the cleaning in the day and his dad never talked about vacuuming.

Additionally your perception of what he does and does not know may not be accurate.

I have a friend who lived in Spain for a few years. Herr son was in nursery but he would never tell her what he had been doing at nursery.

Until she asked his uncle to ask him in Spanish, and he would chat a way.

We think it was just too much effort for him to translate Spanish to English.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now