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Children speaking their first language to eachother at primary school

(86 Posts)
languageissues Sat 30-Apr-16 16:07:07

Does anyone have any experience of this? Where there is a handful of children whose first language is not English, who are young (say between 5 and 8) do teachers require them to speak English at school? If not, how do they supervise as they cannot understand what is being said? I am concerned about bullying and not appropriate language being used (my dc is one of the children affected) and I wondered how will the teachers react if we ask them to require that English is spoken while on school grounds? I would be really grateful for views.

gallicgirl Sat 30-Apr-16 16:11:35

I'd tell you to do one! How dare you try to dictate what language my child uses.

I understand your point of view and while teachers can encourage the use of English, I really don't think they can demand it...or at least not outside the classroom.

If your child feels bullied then I would suggest teasing out the reasons for this. Not understanding what peers are saying isn't being bullied, however being deliberately excluded could be bullying particularly if coupled with aggressive speech.

dementedpixie Sat 30-Apr-16 16:12:37

My gut instinct is that you can't require them to only speak English at school. Fair enough in the class but not on the playground

RobotMenu Sat 30-Apr-16 16:13:36

I'm afraid I agree with gallicgirl. Contrary to popular believe, bilingualism is NOT easy and children should be encouraged to use their languages, not forced to stop.

MrsTerryPratchett Sat 30-Apr-16 16:15:24

I lived abroad when I was a child and we were forced to speak one language in school, even the playground. It was shit. Speaking and listening to ESL is really tiring and hard. It wears you down and uses lots of processing power. Kids are tired enough!

RobotMenu Sat 30-Apr-16 16:16:40

Exactly. Sometimes you just need to speak your own language.

Lndnmummy Sat 30-Apr-16 16:16:43

I would be very annoyed if my son was told he cant speak his first language to his friends! (He wont as will be only child speaking this language at his school, but still).

SukeyTakeItOffAgain Sat 30-Apr-16 16:18:53

Good grief. Please Google the history of Welsh children being forced to stop using their language in school.

Op bilingualism is beneficial and not a cause of bullying. Bullying is a different issue and should be tackled certainly.

Look at it this way...if you, an adult, lived in another country and found someone else from your home country at work, what language would you chat in?

Natsku Sat 30-Apr-16 16:19:18

Very unreasonable! I would be extremely pissed off if my DD was banned from speaking her mother tongue because someone is upset they can't understand it!

ALemonyPea Sat 30-Apr-16 16:19:58


Are you assuming that because they're not speaking English that they're saying horrible things? All the time? Is that just certain languages, or are all of them in cahoots with each other?

TheSolitaryBoojum Sat 30-Apr-16 16:20:13

It hasn't been policy to demand that children speak English only in school for decades. I've worked in schools with 17 languages where English was the common tongue and schools where the school languages were Urdu/Bengali and English was a second language for all pupils. And schools where English was the only language.
So no, I wouldn't insist on depriving children of the right to speak their own language, nor would I work in a school where that was expected.
I would work on whole community values and inclusion to build better relationships.

TheSolitaryBoojum Sat 30-Apr-16 16:21:24

Some children swear, say nasty things and whisper in their home language, whatever that might be.
Most don't.

DotForShort Sat 30-Apr-16 16:22:30

A teacher could certainly insist on English being used during lessons. However, under no circumstances should children be forbidden from speaking their home languages when on the playground or in similar situations. Raising children to speak two (or more) languages is not always easy. The school should support and encourage bilingualism, not attempt to squelch it.

If children are being unkind to their classmates, that is a concern that should be addressed, of course. But it should be entirely separate from the language issue.

Toffeecrispy Sat 30-Apr-16 16:22:49

They feel easier talking their mother tounge its not to be rude to anyone. I wish my mum and aunty spoke to me in creole when a child unfortunatly didnt due to not wanting us to feel left out at school now i only know english. Its nice to know different languages.

allowlsthinkalot Sat 30-Apr-16 16:23:35

Plenty of Welsh schools require, or strongly encourage, children to speak Welsh at playtime when their first language is English. Otherwise they don't achieve fluency in Welsh.

I still don't agree with the OP!

Stopyourhavering Sat 30-Apr-16 16:24:31

Dcs all went to Welsh speaking primary school, had my concerns at first as worried I wouldn't be able to help with homework( totally unfounded and I now know a second language) was best thing for them as it gave then so many more opportunities, got an extra GCSE and dd1 got on to post grad TESOL course at Edinburgh Uni because of her experience of bilingualism

WorraLiberty Sat 30-Apr-16 16:24:37

40% of the kids in my local primary school have EAL but this has never been a problem.

If for example a group of kids got together and only spoke their own language to bully/exclude another child, then that is what they would be told off for.

Just the same as if they'd bullied or excluded them in any other way.

Griphook Sat 30-Apr-16 16:24:39

You need to address it along the lines of bullying which it sounds like it is

corythatwas Sat 30-Apr-16 16:24:42

When you say your dc is affected, do you mean what most posters have assumed, that your dc is a child who is not speaking the minority language and worries about being excluded? Or do you mean you worry about your dc not being supervised in their use of the minority language?

languageissues Sat 30-Apr-16 16:24:53

Actually, my dc is one of the children speaking the non-native language! And younger than the others, and being bullied and having sexual and violent words thrown at them. Does that make a difference? I understand fully about bilingualism and how tiring it is, but this situation is pants too. Any ideas how to deal with it?

MrsTerryPratchett Sat 30-Apr-16 16:27:01

Sorry to hear that OP. But surely dealing with it in the same way that bullying out of the earshot of the teacher is dealt with? Your DC tells a teacher and the teacher deals with it.

corythatwas Sat 30-Apr-16 16:27:20

In that case you need to address the bullying. Absolutely.

The language issue is a total red herring: you could not expect a member of staff to listen to every word being spoken by the children at playtime anyway.

You will have to encourage your dd to tell you or a member of staff. There is no way around this for any child, speaking any language. If they are bullies, they will find other ways of bullying: what needs to be done is to make it clear that bullying is not acceptable.

JustABigBearAlan Sat 30-Apr-16 16:27:26

Hold on a minute, I think I interpreted the OP differently. I assumed she meant that her child is one of the ones speaking the other language. She fears her child may be being bullied by the others, but because the teacher cna't understand what is being said, nothing is done about it.

Or have I got that wrong?

corythatwas Sat 30-Apr-16 16:28:00

Should have said: your dd needs to tell a teacher. Ideally straightaway.

JustABigBearAlan Sat 30-Apr-16 16:28:28

OK, cross posted.

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