English Only Vs English Plus
There is an increase of those children in state schools who do not come from English speaking back ground. One in seven children at primary school in England and one in ten at secondary school speak a language other than English at home. A research team from Goldsmiths concludes that using two or more languages deepens an understanding of mathematical concepts and results in a better overall performance in school. Bilingual children are able to access key concepts through both languages, giving them an advantage over monolinguals. Children who speak at least two languages actually strengthen their identities as learners and boost their cognitive development. Researchers say this finding is of particular importance for second and third generation immigrant children. It is important to “embed” mother tongues into daily activities through games, songs and incidental use, such as answering the register and giving praise and simple instructions, familiar stories can be told or acted out in their languages.
In the 60s and 70s, the British education system has destroyed the home languages and the new research proved that the policy was wrong and the British education system is guilty of crime against humanity. It is very important that immigrant parents keep talking to their children in their home tongues as this will give children a valuable tool to access lessons, deepen understanding of key ideas, and enhance overall school performance. Children who led bilingual lives could access their lessons through both languages. The children in the project expressed a strong desire to use their community languages in school. Teachers were able to tap into their pupils’ full range of cultural knowledge.
Children who attended mother tongues classes did better in their National Curriculum tests. Research suggests that bilingual pupils do better than those with just one language. The researcher warns that many second and third generation children are in danger of losing their bilingual skills if they do not have the chance to develop their mother tongue through their school work. Multilingual children may be allowed to use their mother tongue in mainstream classes. Rather than thinking in terms of an “English only” culture we should be promoting “English plus”.
Among all the migrant children, Muslim children suffer more than others. Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models. They need to be well versed in Standard English to follow the National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. They need to be well versed in Arabic, Urdu and other community languages to keep in touch with their cultural roots and enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry.