Language expert Dr Nick Saville from Cambridge ESOL recently called for the UK to move away from a 'sink or swim' approach to EAL. “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.”
Dr Nick Saville's comments came during a debate organised by Cambridge Assessment to look at the lack of appropriate assessment of EAL in UK schools. The debate posed the question: 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. During the debate 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 by Cambridge ESOL’s parent organisation Cambridge Assessment 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. More than 100 people including teachers, assessment experts and journalists attended. The debate was streamed live and more than 1000 people watched online.
Presenters included: Lee Donaghy, Park View Business & Enterprise School, Birmingham; Phil Woolas, former immigration minister; Dr Sandra McNally, London School of Economics and Political Science; Dr Philida Schellekens, consultant, author, teacher and teacher trainer; Prof. Dr. Piet Van Avermaet, Ghent University; Tim Chadwick, consultant and teacher trainer and Dr Frank Monaghan, NALDIC's vice chair.
Dr Monaghan provided an excellent counterpoint to comments made by Phil Woolas during the first sessions of the debate, as well as illustrating how (and how not) the UK should proceed in its response to linguistic diversity. Colleagues who missed the debate, including Frank's presentation and a complementary view from Flanders by Piet Van Avermaet can catch up at Policy Review TV at http://www.policyreview.tv/podcast/708/6738