The Linguist

The Linguist 57,3 – June/July 2018

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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20 The Linguist Vol/57 No/3 2018 FEATURES How one school is reaping the benefits of using pupils' language skills to help new arrivals. By Karl McLaughlin S et in the culturally diverse Crumpsall/ Cheetham Hill area of Manchester, Abraham Moss Community School is one of very few schools in northwest England to operate a formal programme that identifies bilingual pupils and offers them basic training in the skills required to act as language mediators within the school environment. More that 60 languages are spoken at Abraham Moss, which began the programme five years ago with a group of just eight pupils in Key Stage 4 (ages 14-16). Since then it has blossomed into an impressive 'language army' – nearly 40-strong – of 'young interpreters' aged 12-16, who cover languages as diverse as Arabic, Chinese, Hungarian, Italian, Pashtun, Polish, Spanish, Turkish and Urdu. Given the Abraham Moss motto, Ex Diversitate Vires ('From Diversity comes Strength'), its concerted efforts to foster multilingualism and multiculturalism come as no surprise, although the fruits of this latest initiative cannot fail to impress. The school, which has just over 1,700 pupils, receives approximately 80 mid-year admissions of young people from outside the UK every year, including economic migrants, asylum seekers and children of overseas students; children who are fully literate and high achievers in their first language but with widely varying levels of English language, and others who have had no exposure to English at all. To help the newcomers adapt to their new school setting, the young interpreters act as official mentors, passing on crucial peer knowledge of how things work at Abraham Moss. Other valuable contributions include providing support with the admissions process, peer support in lessons, tutor time and lunchtime, and 'reading buddies'. A further function is to help out at parents' meetings and open days, where pupils use their language skills to relay key information to families in real time. The young interpreters also go out and help with admissions meetings and First Language Assessments in local primary schools. The programme earned Abraham Moss a prestigious accolade in 2016 when it beat stiff competition from across the country to lift the TES International Award. The annual distinction is conferred on the school "with the most innovative international strategy, including initiatives to improve pupils' and teachers' understanding of other countries, languages and cultures", with an emphasis on strategies with demonstrable impact across the school and the wider community. Building confidence The junior linguists' work is vital for helping new arrivals to build confidence when entering the unfamiliar and often daunting environment of a new school. "In many cases, without them, the newcomers and their families would be unable to communicate or receive important news and information, so there is no doubt that our young interpreters help them embed properly at school," explains Programme leader and Assistant Head of EAL (English as an additional language) Sharon Collins. Manchester's Language Army To help the newcomers adapt to their new school setting, the young interpreters act as official mentors

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