The Linguist

The Linguist 54,2

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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18 The Linguist Vol/54 No/2 2015 What are the challenges for the UK's 5,000 supplementary schools, asks Miranda Moore According to the latest figures, 13% of pupils in England and Wales have a first language other than English. 1 The figures for native English speakers with an additional home language may be even higher, with 20% of young participants in a recent survey claiming to have another main language at home. Given Britain's 'language skills crisis', with successive reports 2 highlighting the fall-out for business, trade and diplomacy, the importance of supporting these 'community languages' has never been greater. The number of supplementary schools teaching language and culture, mainly to children with one or both parents from a non- English-speaking country, has swelled to 5,000 nationwide, according to some estimates, covering at least 53 languages. Yet community language learning continues to take place largely outside mainstream education. The establishment of the National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education in 2007 heralded a shift in attitudes and a more unified approach. But despite initial Government funding, the NRC is now an independent charity, and supplementary provision remains ad hoc, including schools run by embassies, groups set up by parents and community volunteers, partnerships with mainstream schools, and church-run institutions. The majority are fully or partly funded by a local authority and/or attendance fees. Frequency of classes, number of hours offered, class/school size and facilities vary widely. Access is often dependent on location, with most schools situated in London, South Yorkshire, the Midlands and parts of the North West (where language communities are concentrated); and on parents' ability to pay (a 2010 survey 3 found that, at fee-paying schools, tuition costs veer from £50 to £555 a year). Magnus Albert, 7, whose mother is Danish, is lucky: he is able to travel to the Danish Church in Regent's Park for lessons once a fortnight. Although it costs just £50 a year, it is still a major commitment for the family. 'We're there for two hours and it's a two hour journey there and back, so it's a big chunk of time,' says his father, Matt, who has also taken classes at the church. Inspiring the children to go back week after week is a major challenge. Motivation is key, so it's important that Saturday schools are significantly different from mainstream education. Magnus is in an advanced class of 7- to 9-year-olds. 'We do lots of activities. We do games in Danish, like hangman. That's my favourite,' he says. 'But the thing I like about it is, in breaks, you get cake.' At Deutsche Samstags Schule (DSS) Islington, homemade bakeries – on sale during the morning session – are also a big draw. Formed in 1989 by a group of German parents, it now has two sites, in Islington and Hackney, teaching 240 children aged 4-17. 'With our teachers, their first instruction is that the classes have to be fun,' says Managing Director Cathrin Cordes. 'The older ones have rival activities, like football clubs, so if it's not fun, no one's going to come.' In fact, the school – one of 22 German Saturday schools across the country – has a high retention rate. I visit during Karneval. Every session starts with a communal song, but today there is an accordian player, the children are in fancy dress, and later there will be a traditional procession around the playground, ending with teachers throwing sweets. For most of the children, this is their only experience of such cultural traditions, which are an important part of the school calendar. A major objective for supplementary schools is to teach children not only the Schools a class apart "The older ones have rival activities, like football clubs, so if it's not fun, no one's going to come" FEATURES

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