[MLE] "Bilingual pupils do better in exams, report finds" (UK)

Dear MLE Interest group,
Below an encouraging study!

Karsten van Riezen
Education Consultant, SIL Int.
SIL, South Asia Group.

-----Original Message-----
From: Multilingual_Literacy@yahoogroups.com
[mailto:Multilingual_Literacy@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Don Osborn
Sent: 01 November 2006 04:07
To: Multilingual_Literacy@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [M_L] "Bilingual pupils do better in exams, report finds" (UK)
FYI (fwd from MultiEd-L)... DZO

The Independent
Bilingual pupils do better in exams, report finds By Richard Garner,
Education Editor
31 October 2006

Bilingual children are far more likely to get top-grade passes in exams in
all subjects, a report has found.

A study of Portuguese children at secondary schools in London showed that
those who were encouraged to continue studying their native language were
five times as likely to achieve five top grade A* to C grade passes at GCSE.

The study also found that 11-year-olds in Hackney who speak more than one
language at home were outperforming pupils who only speak English, even in
reading, in their national curriculum tests.

The report, Positively Plurilingual, is published today by Cilt, the
national centre for languages, to coincide with a drive to encourage the
take-up of community languages.

In an introduction to the report, Sir Trevor McDonald - who led a major
inquiry into the teaching of languages in schools and is now Cilt's patron -
says too many schools miss out on the opportunity to ensure bilingual pupils
develop their skills in languages other than English. "Rather than thinking
in terms of an 'English-only' culture, we should be promoting
'English-plus'," he says. "We know that children are capable of acquiring
more than one language and that doing so brings a range of educational
benefits, including cognitive advantages, enhanced communication skills and
an openness to different cultural perspectives."

The report also cites research by Ellen Bailystock of York University in
Canada, which showed that bilingual people were better at multi-tasking than
those who only speak one language. This is because they regularly exercise
the part of the brain known as the pre-frontal cortex which reinforces
attention span.

The report says that more than one in eight primary school pupils in the UK
- about 850,000 children - speak a language other than English at home.

"People who already speak more than one language find it easier to learn new
languages than monolinguals," it adds.

It gives several examples of schools that take advantage of the ethnic
diversity of their children - including Newbury Park primary school in
Redbridge, east London, which adopts a different "language of the month" so
its pupils get a grounding in all of the 44 languages spoken at the school.

Peterborough now offers classes in Italian, Urdu and Punjabi in its primary
schools. "The linguistic map of the UK is changing," concludes the report.
"The number of languages in use is growing and diversity is spreading to
parts of the country where previously few languages other than English were

Dorset County Council, for instance, has teamed up with Tower Hamlets in
east London - where 60 per cent of pupils are of Bangladeshi origin
- to provide distance learning for Bengali speakers. Cumbria offers Saturday
classes in Chinese and Bengali.

More than 200 representatives of schools and local education authorities
will gather at the Polish embassy this morning to promote the teaching of
Polish, in a meeting timed to coincide with the launch of the report.
Children of Polish origin are one of the fastest growing ethnic minority
groups in UK state schools.

Today's drive comes in the wake of the decision by Alan Johnson, the
Education Secretary, to set up an inquiry into the teaching of languages in
schools - following the disastrous slump in take-up of the subject at GCSE
and A-level when compulsory language lessons after the age of 14 were
scrapped. It is to be headed by Lord Dearing, the former chairman of the
Post Office, and is expected to make its interim report in December.

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