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Original Message
Forum Muslim Children 
Topic Bilinualism 
Author Iftikhar 
Date Created 06/02/2004 23:09:41 
Message Established 1981
London School of Islamics
An Educational Trust
63 Margery Park Road London E7 9LD
Email: info@londonschoolofislamics.org.uk
Tel/Fax: 0208 555 2733 / 07817 112 667


Bilingual education is a human and civil right. Being bilingual and bi-cultural is an important resource in today’s global economy and the British government should be encouraging this rather than suppressing it. It is crucial that children feel secure in their bilingual identity. A research project at the Institute of Education, University of London, shows that five and six years olds cope well with biliteracy and gain advantages from it. If young people see their community language and culture is valued, they will feel integrated into British society. There is a great demand for individuals fluent in English and mother tongues by educational institutions, TV Channel, radio stations and service industries.

Bilingualism has positive effects on children’s linguistic and educational development. The level of development of children’s mother tongue is a strong predictor of their second language development. Mother tongue promotion in the school helps develop not only the mother tongue but also children abilities in the majority school language. Spending instructional time through minority language in the school does not hurt children’s academic development in the majority school language. When parent’s culture are recognized by the school, their interest and involvement in the curriculum often increase dramatically.

Children’s mother tongue is fragile and easily lost in the early years of school. Language lies at the heart of any culture. The different languages spoken provide clear links with the family and community traditions which enrich British culture. To reject a child’s language in the school is to reject a child. Children cultural and linguistic experience in the home is the foundation of their future learning and we must build on that foundation rather than undermine it. Increased cultural and language awareness could help to combat hooliganism.

Languages, by virtue of their direct contribution to economic competitiveness, intercultural tolerance and social cohesion, should have the status of a key skill alongside literacy, numeracy and ICT. The government should establish a national strategy for developing capability in languages and a system capable of supporting such a strategy. A language supremo should be attached to the cabinet office and have direct access to the Prime Minister. He should persuade the notoriously monolingual British to learn a language. New languages supremo must persuade reluctant Brits to speak something other than English. British society is already a multilingual society. The first wave of immigrants arrived with two or three languages from the sub-continent but its young generation is unable to feel pride in its mother tongue. The government should declare a firm commitment to early language learning for all children at age five. The key to success in business, the law and politics in the future will be the mastry of at least one foreign language. Knowledge of more than one language demonstrates that a candidate has the ability to think across cultural boundaries. Bilingualism enhances children’s development.
Iftikhar Ahmad

Topic Re: Bilinualism 
Author Penny 
Date Created 07/02/2004 11:54:30 
Message This is an interesting turn-round on your previous postings, Iftikhar. I recall that in another letter, you condemned the suggestion that children in primary schools should learn a foreign language! French, I think it was. Now you seem to be saying that a second language is acceptable, but presumably, you mean Arabic or Urdu, and not a European language?  
Topic Re: Bilinualism 
Author The Reverend Peter M. Hawkins 
Date Created 29/07/2005 09:13:00 
Message Dear Iftikar,
you have sent me another rant full of non-sequiturs and grammatical errors.
The Muslim contribution to European/World learning is not terribly clear to anyone. Muslims are not usually notable for their learning as their educational system is closed and not related to the real world. The Feversham School in Bradford is unusual in it's success, at least one Islamic School in Britain teaches only "thieving and fighting", quote from a pupil at Bretton Woods Community School about an Islamic Madrassah in Sheffield. No non Muslim in India would send their child to a Muslim School. By contrast Christian Schools are over-subscribed in India, Pakistan and here.
You do not seem to have grasped the problem of Azad Kashmiri Muslims in this country. They speak Punjabi at home, but they have no means of reading and writing it. In the Mosque, Arabic is taught to be read, but not understood. In the Maintained Schools here in Peterborough, Urdu is taught to be spoken, read and written, but Urdu is rather distant to Punjabi. Education in the maintained schools here is necessarily in English. So it is not that bilingualism is not valued but that any Azad Kasmiri descended child has to cope with four languages, and the result is they do not do very well at all. My fifth son whose first language is Urdu, thinks it is ludicrous that Urdu should be used as a method of Education in Osmania University, Hyderabad, Deccan. In fact English is used.
Identity is something that developes with education. I can pass as French in Southern France and as a Bengali in Southern India. I would not wish to be thought to be a Muslim. I am quite happy with a multple identity.
There is choice in education in England. The responsibilitry for educating a child rests with the parents. They can employ a Tutor, use the private schools or the maintained ones. My children went to private church schools.
I do not think that Bertrand Russell would have supported the establishment of Muslims schools here.
Best wishes,
the Reverend Peter M. Hawkins.
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