Teachers of all subjects working in UK schools should be trained to support non-native speakers in the UK classroom – according to participants who took part in a key educational event in London this week. At the event – Can’t speak, can’t learn: what’s the impact of non-native speakers in schools? – over 100 specialists took part in a live forum organised by Cambridge ESOL’s parent organisation Cambridge Assessment. Over 90 per cent of respondents said yes to the question: Should every subject teacher be trained to support non-native speakers in their classroom?
The event was organised to encourage an open debate around the challenges and opportunities associated with the rising numbers of migrant children whose first language is not English in UK schools. Language expert Dr Nick Saville from Cambridge ESOL chaired a lively discussion which asked an expert panel: How can the curriculum respond? Dr Saville called for a curriculum-based approach to support teachers and encourage language learning and a much greater use of research findings to support policy decisions.
“There are successful models in many parts of the world which show the positive effect of well thought out curriculum decisions,” explained Dr Saville. “We need to get away from the sink or swim approach of the past and introduce a curriculum backed system which includes appropriately pitched English assessments mapped to recognised standards. This model would help teachers to support their students in their ongoing language learning and allow migrant members of the classroom to reach their full potential.”
Other speakers at the event include curriculum specialist Dr Philida Schellekens author of Teaching and Testing the Language Skills of First and Second Language Speakers (Produced for Cambridge ESOL) – and Prof. Dr. Piet Van Avermaet, Ghent University who brought an valuable perspective based on experience of managing similar challenges in Flanders.
Watch footage from the event here: www.cambridgeassessment.org.uk/ca/Viewpoints/Viewpoint?id=138962