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No support at school for non-english-speaking child?

(24 Posts)
Frieda Thu 27-Jan-05 11:08:15

DS's teacher mentioned to me the other day that a new child who doesn't speak a word of english will be joining the class next week. I asked her what kind of extra support the child would be getting, and she just shrugged and said "nothing". Can this be right?

It's a year 1 class (age 5-6) with 30 children and one teacher (ie, no teaching assistant or anyone extra – they had a f/t teaching assistant plus a teacher and a nursery nurse for reception, but in year one the teachers are 'on their own').

The school prides itself on taking a large proportion of special needs children, and I naively thought that this must mean they get extra funding – presumably for extra support staff. I imagine it must be really difficult and scary for a new child arriving in a large class without being able to communicate with the other kids or understand the teacher – not to mention for the teacher, with 29 other lively kids to manage and teach. I'd be interested to know if anyone else has any experience of this kind of situation and whether this is normal.

lockets Thu 27-Jan-05 11:12:58

Message withdrawn

open Thu 27-Jan-05 11:28:59

A friend of mine is a nursery teacher and they have a Portuguese child in the class who doesn't speak a word of English. I asked her if she was going to learn the Portuguese words for, say, hello, goodbye, toilet - just a few basic words.

And she said no.

I found this unbelievable.

Frieda Thu 27-Jan-05 11:29:34

Thanks, lockets – it's sad, isn't it. But I honestly thought that schools got extra money for supporting kids with additional needs.

Frieda Thu 27-Jan-05 11:32:19

open! It must be so bewildering for those poor little ones. However, I remember a swiss girl at my junior school, who hardly spoke any english when she arrived but ended up speaking fluently (and with a local accent) very quickly.

Gobbledigook Thu 27-Jan-05 11:37:26

I'm just wondering about this - ds1 goes to nursery with a little boy from Mexico (his best mate actually) and when he started nursery he didn't know any English either as his parents are bringing him up to be bilingual so speak to him only in Spanish in the home. I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think any special provision was made for the fact that he only spoke Spanish when he started nursery as half the reason he goes to nursery is to learn English.

Just wondering what extra provision could realistically be made for a non-English speaking child because you can't expect the teacher to be able to speak another language and if you had another teacher/support worker to 'translate' how would the child learn the English.

Maybe I'm just being naive and I don't know much about it so just wondering if anything ever happens in school to accommodate this?

I must admit, if I were the teacher I'd make the effort to learn a few basic words or phrases to make it easier for myself and to make the child feel more comfortable and settled.

Potty1 Thu 27-Jan-05 11:42:45

I work for a literacy charity and visit schools on a regular basis. There are several schools locally with non-English speaking children and IME there is no specific help given. The funding is not available for one-to-one help for these children even for a short space of time.

EnlightenedFlum Thu 27-Jan-05 11:47:16

I used to work as a teaching assistant. Children do learn to speak English v. quickly. Usually they can get by within a couple of months. There was no specific help provided, but I don't think it was really necessary they just learnt from listening to other children and from what was going on in the classroom. Other kids helped them too which was nice.

I don't think it is the responsibility of the school to teach the home language.

I think it is the responsibility of the parents to try and help the children to learn English. But even if they get no help they still learn very quickly.

EnlightenedFlum Thu 27-Jan-05 11:50:49

Really the quickest way to learn a language is just to be surrounded by it. If someone were there to translate it would simply delay the learning process.

A person close to me is a Linguistic in Japan. Most of the English teachers there do not speak Japanese. They simply teach English by speaking, reading and writing English and using games. Using the native tongue merely delays learning.

That is why so few English people speak French even though they study it for a number of years at school.

lockets Thu 27-Jan-05 11:53:52

Message withdrawn

LIZS Thu 27-Jan-05 11:53:54

ds goes to an International School (private) where this problem arises constantly. Yes the kids do learn quickly from the constant expsosure to a new language but for many of them the transition is hard. They start to understand far more quickly thant they can express themselves a similar way to a baby/toddler developing language. Sometimes their behaviour in the meantime is challenging which I feel is neither good for the child nor the rest of the class. There is specific provision made for such children, whereby they have one to one sessions ( with mainly volunteer parents) outside the classroom and if deemed necessary occasionally in the classroom. During their session they'll play games and activities to help build up their vocabulary and confidence. It is a system that does seem to work.

lockets Thu 27-Jan-05 11:55:34

Message withdrawn

EnlightenedFlum Thu 27-Jan-05 11:57:15

Perhaps help with the confusing transistion to a new school/culture. But isn't that a job for the parents?

LIZS Thu 27-Jan-05 12:01:02

It is really hard if the parents don't speak much English either though. They can't readily approach the teacher to discuss any problems or other parents even to arrange a playdate.

Potty1 Thu 27-Jan-05 12:02:41

Many of the parents don't speak English so its a steep learning curve for them too.

EnlightenedFlum Thu 27-Jan-05 12:11:02

True, ltos of the parents don't speak English but most are part of a local community that speak there own language (not always I know). I just meant the parents can talk to the child about school etc.#

I think 'special units' for this would be an unnecessary and inefficient use of educational resources. The aim is for children to integrate quickly and well. The quickest way for children to integrate is to make them part of the class.

Any new thing is difficult and I'm sure many of you remember your childs first term at school as being difficult transitionary period. But do you think a 'special unit' for 'new'/'different' children would have helped or would it just have served to make them feel more 'different' and therefore more unsure.......slowing the integration process.

EnlightenedFlum Thu 27-Jan-05 12:12:00

Good lord - for there read their and countless other illiteracies - i obviously didn't listen enough at school

Chandra Thu 27-Jan-05 12:18:16

Well, with respect to the original post. I have lived in multi-language comunities (or better said I have been an expat since a long time ago). I have a child that is being raised with 3 languages (mine, my husband's and we are sending him to the nursery to avoid the problem of he getting to school with no English at all). However, from what I have read it is advised that you only speak to the child in your native language and from the experience of many people I know, it's better if the school is monolingual and only speak in the language of the region to them, why? because that helps them to learn the language more quickly (though it would be frustrating at first, children at that age learn terribly fast, the child of one of my friends was communicating perfectly in Spanish after being exposed full time to the language for less than a month. other friends' daughters managed English well and with a good native accent in less than six months). It also helps to avoid confusing the child further and to avoid language mixing which unfortunately is really frowned upon in certain communites... So it is not bad at all, I suppose...

Hausfrau Thu 27-Jan-05 12:23:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LIZS Thu 27-Jan-05 12:28:11

EF, that may be true of some children in UK, but less likely here or in the case of the child at Open's friend's nursery or Frieda's school mate.

I'm not sure I'd agree with special units, but certainly additional language support within the school environment. The main problem I'd envisage with a specialist unit is that if there were several children with a first language in common they would tend to revert to that, in the playground for example, rather than develop their English language and social skills.

monkey Thu 27-Jan-05 12:32:38

sad but true, no help ime.

I live in Switzerland too, like Lizs and both me & dh are English, so speak only English at home. Our children speak English. In August my ds started in the Swiss Kindergarten, so unlike Lizs, we don't use the international school. I think it is very hard for my ds to be constantly surrounded by Swiss German. It has affected him inasmuch as he's a quiet boy anyway, and it's really hindered his integration, not being able to speak to the other kids. After a bit of pushing (it wasn't automatically offered) he has one lesson of Swiss German per week, so he still doesn't have any English input but has a specialist teacher playing simple games & in small groups to really help him get a grasp of the language. He is much happier since he started getting these lessons.

I used to work in a secondary school in London where this was very common. Kids coming in with no English & no support. I really felt sorry for them. Usually their 1st words, within the week were f**k off and your mum

Obviously it will delay learning if taught in mother tongue, but I do think small group work etc would be beneficial both linguistically & psychologically. Moving to a new school is hard enough without the added problems of different language etc.

Chandra Thu 27-Jan-05 12:35:15

That's true Lisz, the university I first attended had a special program for students who needed help with their English and although it helped a lot to avoid getting behind in the studies (they will have the basic course options offered in Spanish) it meant that you made most of your friends at that group so you ended up speaking Spanish through out all the studies, besides, it formed some kind of clique where spanish speakers wouldn't mix with English speakers. I know far too many people who graduated from the U. (whish is in the U.S.) with a very insecure use of the local language.

Chandra Thu 27-Jan-05 12:37:38

whish???? dear!!! a clear example of what I am talking about.... meant which of course!

AuntyQuated Thu 27-Jan-05 12:50:50

well i thought our aothority was a bit lacking but obviously not

we have a special unit where (at least) one parent and child go for minimum of a term before placed in a school, they rae then supprted in school but i don't know how often. this is the case with asylum seekers mainly.

isolated late arrivals have some support - ME.

i visit them once a week, drop of appropriate resources for the class teacher to use during the week and do some language work with them for 30 mins!!! not really much support but slightly better than nothing.

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