Earlier this year, a report showed that in 1 out of 9 British schools, English is no longer the language spoken at home for the majority of students.
Now, in a proposal that’s sure to get people talking, a secondary school in Leeds has announced that they plan to teach English as though it were a foreign language to everyone – even students born and raised in Britain.
City of Leeds School’s student body is quite diverse, including 55 different nationalities. Students’ families come from all over the world, with some of the largest groups being Pakistani, Czech Roma and Traveller. According to the Yorkshire Post, less than a quarter of the students have English as a first language.
The school is rated as “requires improvement” by Ofsted, though that’s not entirely unexpected considering the challenges faced by its pupils.
Head teacher Georgiana Sale explained the problems faced by the school to the Yorkshire Post:
“Many of our pupils are not only new to English but they are not even literate in their own language. In some cases we are the first people to put a pen in their hand…Around half of our children are new to the country within four years. It is generally thought it takes five years to properly learn a language and that is when you have total immersion it. A lot of our children don’t have that because it is not being spoken at home.”
But what about the English students? Apparently, having parents who speak English doesn’t guarantee that a student will speak English well enough to excel on the GCSE exams. So, the instructions will aim to help these pupils improve in spelling and grammar. Ms. Sale told the Telegraph,
“The demands on the formality of language and the standards of spelling and grammar in GCSE exams are getting higher and higher. The level of language written and talked by the vast majority of our native English speakers would not be high enough to get A grades…It won’t be taught like you or I learned French. It’s going to be differentiated according to what they need and a lot of my children need to be taught English as a language.”
What do you think of this plan?
Photo credit: Some rights reserved by James Sarmiento