It is difficult for children coming into a class where they don’t know anyone, it is even harder when that child has little or no English. While lots of children adapt brilliantly to the new culture, the first while can be challenging when they are not able to communicate and join in with the rest of their class. Marion Stempczyk and Kayee Chui from Falkirk’s Bilingual and Traveller Pupil Support Service (BaTPSS) explained to us the importance of being able to meet with the children and their family before they started school- to give them the opportunity to assess the children’s English level, explain how things work in the Scottish education system and so that the BaTPSS team can help the school get ready for the new students.
We have heard some wonderful stories about teachers who taught the class how to say “hello” in Chinese, so that the new student would be welcomed in his own language and straight away get a feeling of belonging. However, as Marion explained, a lot of teachers are unsure how best to work with students who arrive from a different culture, with limited English and different experiences of school. How can teachers make sure that a child feels included in the class when they don’t have the language skills to join in?
This is where the BaTPSS team come in, as well as helping the children develop their English, Marion and Kayee work with the teachers to help them understand what it is like for the children and how they can support them in the classroom. English as an Additional Language services are only able to support children for a limited period of time and it’s essential that the classroom teachers have the skills to be able to support children who have English as an additional language in their learning.
Here is Marion talking about the work they do with teachers