Team up, spread the word

13th June 2008 at 01:00
Teachers who want to help pupils learn a community language, such as Urdu and Somali, but do not have the skills to teach it now have access to a database of contacts
Teachers who want to help pupils learn a community language, such as Urdu and Somali, but do not have the skills to teach it now have access to a database of contacts.

The Our Languages project this week launched a website listing schools which teach community languages, as well as case studies of good practice and websites for pupils. The creators hope it will lead to more partnerships between those running after-school classes and mainstream teachers.

The number of community languages in the UK is uncertain, but a survey in London found 307, and 20 had more than 2,000 speakers.

The Our Languages project, funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, is being run jointly by Cilt, the national centre for languages, the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, the National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education and the Schools Development Support Agency in Leicester.

Sarah Cartwright of Cilt, who is the project's manager, said: "This will be of interest not just to language teachers, but to headteachers who need to think about what educational experiences their pupils are having out of school, as well as to parents and pupils.

"What is important to us is valuing the pluri-lingualism of children, seeing it as an asset."

The first phase of the scheme, which ran from last September to March, involved creating clusters comprising one mainstream and at least one supplementary school in four areas: Manchester, Birmingham, London and Leicester. One partnership includes Madani High in Leicester and local madrassahs Masjid Ali and Masjid Bukhari, which offer classes in Arabic language and Islamic studies.

The second phase will involve creating additional clusters in those areas and in rural or semi-rural areas, using technology to help teach community languages.

To get involved, email alice. harrison@ssattrust.org.uk; www.cilt.org.ukcommlangsour_langs.

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