Easing the culture clash

16th March 2007 at 00:00
English schools have been educating immigrant children for decades.

Recently, however, new arrivals from Eastern Europe have brought challenges to schools in counties such as Lincolnshire that are unfamiliar with teaching children whose first language is not English.

An activity pack to help immigrant children new to life in Britain has been developed by Cilel Smith, of Paramount Training Education and Development Centre.

The pack contains a board game, teacher's handbook, two activity books, an audio CD and reading cards.

It grew out of Cilel's research for her PhD at the Institute of Education on the learning experiences of refugee children before, during and after migration, for which she interviewed 40 children in London schools.

"I discovered that all immigrant children have similar issues of adjustment to deal with," she says. "Some cannot speak English and some have not even been to school before."

The materials are designed for 10 to 16-year-olds and are available in English, French, Arabic, Bengali, Farsi, Polish, Somali, Tamil, Turkish and Urdu. A pack for primary pupils and more languages will be available soon.

Different levels include introducing pupils to their new school, classmates, teachers, rules and subjects, and assessing what they know.

Although every school is different, Cilel says there are enough similarities for the pack to be appropriate anywhere. The word "detention", for example, may mean nothing more than a minor inconvenience to many children in the UK but can have sinister connotations to a child brought up in an oppressive state.

Included in the pack are tracking sheets - suitable for photocopying - and assessment materials

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