Anyone else encountered this regarding a child who doesn't speak English

(51 Posts)
MrsCampbellBlack Wed 14-Nov-12 18:06:26

Basically ds is in reception and recently a child has joined the class who speaks no english and so every day his parent and a translator accompany the child and stay all day with him.

Its a small class - only 15 children and I've never encountered this before and wondered if it was usual?

It seems to be unsettling for all concerned hence my query? I just wondered if anyone had experienced it how long it went on for . . .

sparkle12mar08 Wed 14-Nov-12 18:09:56

Are they both CRB checked? Not that they're worth anything more then the paper they're written on, but I'd feel very uncomfortable with two unknown adults in the class all day every day.

mrz Wed 14-Nov-12 18:10:27

It's unusual in my experience for a parent and translator be there every day.

GateGipsy Wed 14-Nov-12 18:13:46

never heard of it! Lots of children start at son's school with no English. They basically learn it as they go, mostly by playing with other children, and with a little bit of extra support from the school. Is this child particularly well off? Who pays for the translator!?

SchrodingersSexKitten Wed 14-Nov-12 18:14:22


no over-reaction there!

HecatePropylaea Wed 14-Nov-12 18:18:00

Perhaps the parent is there in the short term while the child adjusts a bit, gets to feel comfortable with their surroundings and the translator and eventually it will be just the translator until the child can understand english?

Sounds very strange to me, I live in the Netherlands and my dd 4 started school in January speaking no Dutch, she does extra Dutch lessons but certainly does not have a translator. How old is the child? DD has picked up the language very well she often complemented by her class mates and their parents obviously she still has a long way to go just like her mother.

CindySherman Wed 14-Nov-12 18:18:23

I think that is absolutely ridiculous !
I went to school in Italy for 3 years as a child and just got thrown in - you soon learn...

MrsCampbellBlack Wed 14-Nov-12 18:21:50

Well I think its odd but the child is apparently hysterical if the parent even goes to the loo - kicking/screaming etc.

I feel very much for the child and the parent but it just seems odd to me. Also very hard on the teacher.

TigerFeet Wed 14-Nov-12 18:21:57

There's LOADS of children round here that start school with no English, there's a big transient Eastern European population. No translators or parents in class, god it would be chaos, there could be ten children with five different languages between them in each class, can you imagine!!

I think that the fairest thing for the parent to do would be to teach English at home, ideally before they start school. Otherwise I would imagine that total immersion at school would be the quickest way to learn. Certainly dd's friends learned quickly and now speak English as well as their peers.

MrsCampbellBlack Wed 14-Nov-12 18:22:48

Teh child was only 4 in the summer so young for the year too and I totally get it must be very unsettling - new school/country/language etc.

gwenniebee Wed 14-Nov-12 18:25:23

That sounds most unusual. I've taught lots of kids with no English in a mainstream class. Two adults seems doubly ott hmm

MrsCampbellBlack Wed 14-Nov-12 18:30:05

I'm glad its not just me who thinks its strange. The teacher said it will go on for as long as necessary so we'll see. It also wasn't communicated to parents and I only sort of realised after my DS started wanting me to stay and I began to wonder who the 2 random people in the class were.

HecatePropylaea Wed 14-Nov-12 18:30:12

But if a child knows no english - how do they access the curriculum? They're basically sat there for god knows how long a time, day in day out, not understanding a thing.

Far better to have translators in the short term, imo.

MrsC, perhaps there are additional things, not related to the language barrier? My sons behaviour has been known to be rather extreme grin - they have autism.

It could be this child has additional needs.

It could equally be they're simply terrified. New country. New people. Everyone's speaking gobbledegook...

MousyMouse Wed 14-Nov-12 18:30:21

maybe the child has sen?

MrsCampbellBlack Wed 14-Nov-12 18:37:49

Could be but the school is umm not known for having many children with SEN needs there (its private if that makes a difference)

Hecate - the teacher has said she's just carrying on as normal with the curriculum so yes I did wonder how much use it was to the child. But then in my eldest's class last year we had a boarder who spoke very little enlish but she picked it up very very quickly.

AnAirOfHopeForSnow Wed 14-Nov-12 18:41:07

I would go with what ever works for the best with my child. If the child is happy and doing the work great.

I would wounder if the two people are really bodyguards and what the child has been thru to be in the UK but im great at make believe.

As long as your child is happy at school i dont see the problem.

MrsCampbellBlack Wed 14-Nov-12 18:43:08

Well my child hasn't been happy this last week - hence me probing a bit to find out what had changed. He wants me at school, screaming at drop off and he's not the only one.

But and this is a big but - we can manage this and its fine but I guess I'd have appreciated a little heads-up from the school about what was going to happen.

TigerFeet Wed 14-Nov-12 18:43:39

I wondered that myself Hecate. I have no first hand experience but I know that children in dd's class don't seem to have suffered long term because of it - although the majority started in Reception where I suppose it isn't quite so critical if a child can't immediately access the curriculum. I'm sure there have been non-English speakers entering higher up the school and also at secondary, that must be far harder. Polish, Lithuanian, Lativan etc wouldn't be so bad as there are plenty of children fluent in both languages but speakers of languages that are less common would obviously struggle.

I think it's so hard on the children, which is why I wonder why parents dont teach at least a little English before the child starts school.

That said, I have a mate who went to a French speaking Swiss school aged 8 or so, she told me that she found the first few weeks hard but soon picked up the language and is now fluent in about 4 or 5 European languages, so it's actually been an advantage for her in the long term.

AnAirOfHopeForSnow Wed 14-Nov-12 18:56:34

But this happens all the time in Wales.

The council open a Welsh specking school in an English speaking village and then fill the new school with all the children in the village and surround area to increase the number of Welsh speaking adults. The down side is the parents cant help with homework or read the school reports but the children pick it up fast and help the adults learn Welsh as well.

It must be hard at 3 but then all the other children are learning how to talk write and read as well so i dont see the need for the parent to be there. Parent or translator but why both?

anothercuppaplease Wed 14-Nov-12 19:03:32

DH works in a primary school and the child has access to translator for the first few weeks, part time, to help with settling in.

He told me that the only time he'd ever expect a parent and a translator to be in would be if the other parent had died, and the child is particularely upset, or the other parent is very ill. It is unusual, but he's had this in his class a couple of years ago. Year 1, a mum had moved to the UK after the dad died in a country affected by conflict, and their little girl was very unsettled so she had both her mum and a translator to help with the process. There was also other support in place.

ClareMarriott Thu 15-Nov-12 09:01:42

Mrs C

What nationality is the child and their mother ? If the mother is accompanying her child daily , is it because she has difficulty with English hence why the translator comes too ?

lljkk Thu 15-Nov-12 09:06:39

In a private school doesn't sound odd at all to me, OP, DS went to a private school with high levels of SN and many of the parents helped out in own child's class(es).

Why is it so unsettling?

Czech language & Welsh school example: that's totally different, many children are joining with a common language (English or Czech) and the teachers are dealing with similar language needs & deficits.

LadyMargolotta Thu 15-Nov-12 09:11:21

I've never heard of this happening. I do wonder if SEN are involved. I wouldn't expect the parents of the other children to be informed.

I think it can be extremely intimidating for a small child to go into a school full of strangers and not understand a word they are saying. Many adults are too scared to do that.

Having said that, the main problem is, if the child has a translator, then this may stop them learning the language.

CheungFun Thu 15-Nov-12 09:11:52

My DH had a translator at school when he returned to the UK as he didn't speak any English. I can't imagine a child not knowing the language and not having a translator either, I'm not sure I could learn a language just by hearing it [ confused]

CindySherman Thu 15-Nov-12 09:58:52

This must be so unsettling for the other children.

LadyMargolotta Thu 15-Nov-12 10:00:27

I don't see why it would be unsettling? Many classes have teaching assistants and many children need one to one help.

PiedWagtail Thu 15-Nov-12 10:03:07

Unusual ime. A boy joined my ds's reception class last year speaking no English and was on his own from day 1. And he managed fine, bless him.

Do you know for sure that it's the mum and a translator? To me, it sounds more like a bodyguard situation.

nailak Thu 15-Nov-12 10:10:54

a lot of kids start school with no English, they can still access the curriculum, as they can count, do motor skills, learn phonics, learn to write and so on...

under 7 the brain works differently so they find it easier to pick up new languages.

Also many people learn languages by being immersed in it! like all the people who come to England!!

nailak Thu 15-Nov-12 10:11:17

well not all, but some.

CindySherman Thu 15-Nov-12 10:11:54

The child has his mother sitting with him all day in Reception that is totally different to a TA and the OP says all the children are crying at drop off now.
They need to be pacing it down by now its November.

LadyMargolotta Thu 15-Nov-12 10:16:12

She doesn;t say all the children are crying at drop off.

TBH it's normal for some children at this age to cry at drop off, and will cause other chidlren to cry as well. It depends on how the parents handle it.

rrbrigi Thu 15-Nov-12 10:16:41

I think it is better for the teacher and your child as well. Because the teacher does not need to deal with that child behaviour, the parent can do this job. Imagine if the parent would not be there and the child would scream and cry the whole day, the teacher would not be able to teach your child at all.

CindySherman Thu 15-Nov-12 10:19:40

She did say her and other children were finding it unsettling that was the point of the OP.
I am not surprised. Children are going to be confused why their Mums can't sit with them all day. The child is screaming if she leaves for a few moments. It needs to be managed differently.

LadyMargolotta Thu 15-Nov-12 10:20:23

Anyway it doesn't sound like we are getting enough information to make a valid judgement.

We just don't know if the child has SEN or severe emotional problems. We don't know if the child is getting help outside of school.

HanSolo Thu 15-Nov-12 10:25:25

I have never come across this in state nor independent sector (beeen working in schools for almost 20 years). V unusual.
Quickest way for a child that age to learn is full immersion id have thought.

nailak Thu 15-Nov-12 11:50:33

where is the child from? what language do they speak?

WitchesTit Thu 15-Nov-12 11:58:28

So did the other kids in the class get an explanation why there were suddenly 2 adults in class, whispering in a 'strange way' to the new kid?

Sounds nightmarish if you're only 4 and hardly likely to help the new kid assimilate.

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 12:22:31

Maybe the child has other difficulties beyond not speaking English. I'm sure the headteacher has sanctioned this arrangement and wouldn't have done if she didn't think it was necessary.

botandhothered Thu 15-Nov-12 13:00:34

Is the child russian?

MrsCampbellBlack Thu 15-Nov-12 13:15:37

The child is Russian and I was told by the teacher it was the parent and translator. It is a small class and has been very settled - there is one teacher and normally 2 other TA's.

The child would presumably have done some type of assesment before joining the school or at least most children do so I'd be quite surprised if its a SN issue but of course I don't know for certain.

I'm pretty laidback but again this morning my child was very upset and so was another. And my child has been at the school in the nursery class etc for nearly 2 years and this is the first time I've ever had tears at drop-off so I guess I'm guilty of putting 2 and 2 together.

I'm not going to do anything - I do trust the teacher and the school but I did just think it was a bit odd and I do really feel for the child joining the class halfway through the first term and not being able to speak the language etc.

MrsCampbellBlack Thu 15-Nov-12 13:17:54

I'm not sure what the class were told exactly - my 4 year old is not terribly reliable in giving me info about what's happening at school - he just seemed to have the impression that some mummies were staying and why therefore wasn't I. And of course I didn't realise what was happening as nothing had been mentioned to the parents and I'd just thought the extra adults were students/nannies doing drop off etc.

MrsCampbellBlack Thu 15-Nov-12 13:19:20

God I really hope I'm not sounding pfb because truly I'm not - I really guess I just would have liked to have been told what was happening so I could have chatted to my child about it which we have been doing more now, eg, importance of being kind to the new boy and how scared he must be etc etc

gwenniebee Thu 15-Nov-12 16:03:29

I think, particularly when the child is only aged 4, you should have been told beforehand so that you could explain in the way you said in your last post.

With reference to this being common practice in private schools which was mentioned upthread, I can say that ime of teaching in private schools I have never come across this situation, although I have taught many children who have been landed in my classes with no English.

With reference to the question about how the child accesses the curriculum, "differentiation" is and has been a buzz-word for a while now in teaching, basically meaning that the teacher modifies their teaching towards different needs of pupils in the class. This applies to children with English as an Additional Language (EAL) pupils too. It's pretty hard work for the teacher, but you can manage to help the child through the use of images etc. It is preferable to having a translator because the child has to begin to use the new language rather than relying on it being translated for him.

It may be, of course, that the school felt uncomfortable about sharing information about the new child - after all, if a child had other sen and had one-to-one help a letter wouldn't go home to all parents.

I think the school should explain a bit better so the children understand why the other adults are there.

We had a boy join DS2's class part of the way through YR who spoke very little English (Arabic speaker) and he didn't have any formal help. However this might have been because a couple of the staff (and DS2) all speak Arabic so there was informal support in place.

Elibean Thu 15-Nov-12 16:10:38

There is a non English speaker who started in Reception at dds' school last term, and a Mum (not his) who speaks his language has been in some of the time every day to facilitate transition. She has become part of the scenery for the children, and doesn't disrupt class at all - quite the opposite! (state primary, if it makes any difference)

I totally get why a just-4-year-old would need extra support at the beginning - but do think mum PLUS translator is unusual. Unless there are additional needs there.

botandhothered Thu 15-Nov-12 17:27:35

I have a little experience with Russian families. They are very PFB and hugely ambitious for their children.

This is unusual for the UK but they will think nothing of throwing thousands of pounds away to ensure their child is not left behind! Translator must be costing a fortune.

One russian mum I knew decided the pre school her child was at, wasn't clean enough, however as it was the best in the area, she chose to pay for a cleaner to go in and do extra cleaning,not in the UK, incidentally.

I imagine it is disruptive to have a child there with it's parent, but they won't care about that!

sleeplessinderbyshire Thu 15-Nov-12 18:38:20

Are you sure the translator isn't a bodyguard?

MrsCampbellBlack Thu 15-Nov-12 18:44:20

She'd be a very unlikely looking bodyguard but that certainly adds a frisson more excitement to the situation smile

botandhothered Thu 15-Nov-12 19:53:52

mrscampbell, yours must be a vair nice school if the Russians are moving in!!
From a financial point of view the head must be bending over backwards to satisfy their whims!

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