Multilingualism brings communities closer together

Feb 10, 2009

Learning their community language outside the home enhances minority ethnic children's development, according to research led from the University of Birmingham. The research, which was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, found that attending language classes at complementary schools has a positive impact on students.

Complementary schools provide out-of-school-hours community language learning for children and young people from minority groups. They aim to develop students' multilingualism, strengthen the link between home and the community, and connect them with wider social networks. The study found that the parents believed that bilingualism had economic benefits for their children as it improved their chances of success in the global jobs market.

According to Angela Creese, Professor of Educational Linguistics, who led the research, there is a growing interest in complementary schools because they are unique, offering students the opportunity to develop their verbal and written language skills across a variety of languages 'It is rare to find an environment where two or more languages are used in teaching and learning,' she explains. 'Teachers and young people move between languages, and our findings show that the children are proud of their flexible language skills. One Turkish boy told us he was learning four languages and loved being able to show off to his friends.'

The research builds on an earlier study of complementary schools in Leicester that found significant evidence of the value of these schools. Consisting of linked case studies of schools serving four of Britain's linguistic minority communities, the study focused on Bengali schools in Birmingham, Chinese schools in Manchester, Gujarati schools in Leicester, and Turkish schools in London. It explored the social, cultural and linguistic significance of these schools in their communities and in wider society.

The findings highlight the general view among minority communities that children need to study language, heritage and culture at school rather than in isolation at home. A Chinese parent told the researchers that children who were taught by private tutors had a limited experience: 'They need to learn with other kids, to see how other children learn, their attitudes and so on. Then they can decide for themselves what kind of person they should be.'

Source: Economic & Social Research Council

Explore further: Best of Last Week – First map of hidden universe, pursuit of compact fusion and new clues about the causes of depression

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

When parasites catch viruses

Nov 07, 2012

When humans have parasites, the organisms live in our bodies, co-opt our resources and cause disease. However, it turns out that parasites themselves can have their own co-habitants.

Connoisseur of chaos

Aug 29, 2012

As a high school student in a Detroit suburb in the 1990s, Russ Tedrake did not fit the standard profile of a future computer science professor. Although he had a talent for math—"I won some of the little ...

Recommended for you

US company sells out of Ebola toys

Oct 17, 2014

They might look tasteless, but satisfied customers dub them cute and adorable. Ebola-themed toys have proved such a hit that one US-based company has sold out.

Social trust eroded in Chinese product-tampering incident

Oct 14, 2014

For about a decade, Chinese consumers weren't getting what they paid for when they purchased Wuchang, a special brand of gourmet rice that has a peculiar scent. The quality was being diluted when less expensive rice was aromatized, ...

The 2014 Nobel Prizes at a glance

Oct 13, 2014

(AP)—All winners of the 2014 Nobel Prizes have now been announced, starting with the medicine award a week ago and ending with the economics prize on Monday.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

frajo
1 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2009
Akrivos etsi einai. :)
Genau, so ist es. :)
This is true not only for local minority communities. On a global scale, we all are members of minority communities.
dirk_bruere
not rated yet Feb 10, 2009
And anyone who does not speak English, the global language, is at a disadvantage.