Could languages be the key to unlocking inclusivity and promoting culture? Under a new schools policy aiming to do just that, 'home' languages will be used in the classroom more in future and greater emphasis will be placed on revitalising Jèrriais.
Published by the Department for Children, Young People, Education and Skills (CYPES), the Language Policy is part of a wider reform of Jersey’s education system and aims to bring the island "one step closer" to a more inclusive society.
Ahead of the World Day for Cultural Diversity and Dialogue on Saturday 21 May, Express took a closer look at the policy...
The Language Policy provides all Government-funded schools with a framework to improve support for multilingual learners, and encourages the learning of other languages, including Jèrriais.
The aim is for Jersey schools to have a consistent approach to language learning that will create a "socially cohesive community" based on mutual respect and appreciation of cultural diversity.
Pictured: More than 25% of students in Jersey schools are multilingual learners with English as an Additional Langauge (EAL).
Children and Education Minister, Deputy Scott Wickenden, said that the policy had been created to help teachers understand and support language learning in all schools.
“Speaking different languages and recognising cultural heritages will not only improve the well-being of our multilingual learners, but it also means that all pupils benefit from an increased awareness of diversity," he said.
There are currently 62 different languages spoken in schools across the island. Recent figures show there are 3,062 multilingual learners from nursery to Year 13, representing 26% of the school population.
As part of the Policy, each school and college will be required to develop a unique language profile, including both students and educators.
CYPES hopes this will help inform school action plans and guarantee that no student is ‘left out’, ensuring their education needs are met in terms of learning, progress and well-being.
While the majority of multilingual learners currently in Jersey schools were born in Jersey and have attended school since Nursery, the Policy document states that a ‘sizeable portion’ arrived as ‘International New Arrivals’ with differing levels of English proficiency.
“In an increasingly globalised world, students need to have highly developed English language skills by the time they leave education and enter the workplace,” CYPES says.
Pictured: The three most spoken languages of multilingual pupils in Jersey are Portuguese, Polish and Romanian.
To improve support for learners with English as an Additional Language (EAL), schools and colleges will be encouraged to recruit bilingual or multilingual teachers who have the ‘knowledge and good practice of language learning’.
All schools will also adopt an agreed-upon assessment framework for tracking and reporting on EAL proficiency.
According to the Policy document, EAL learners benefit from having their home language included and ‘leveraged’ in their education.
“A child’s first language provides the roots to learn additional languages, and parents should be encouraged to continue to use their home languages to strengthen and support their children’s language proficiency,” the Policy states.
“Students must be encouraged and supported to value their home language and continue to develop proficiency in them, inside and outside the classroom.”
In line with the school language profiles, teachers should understand the ‘linguistic repertoire’ of their students along with the competence of their home language.
This Policy says this could be through home visits or induction sessions.
Pictured: The Policy mission statement highlights that a ‘key element for success’ is empowering children to value their own language and cultures, and those of their peers.
Deputy Inna Gardiner, who offers support to EAL communities, said: “We need to create a system that recognises first languages and gives students a choice of alternative languages to study at school.
“The Language Policy for Education is where we will create this pathway and having a policy and celebration that recognises, reinforces and celebrates the cultural diversity of our island is good for everyone and all cultures."
While English remains the primary language for teaching in Jersey schools, the Language Policy wants to give all students the opportunity to learn and engage with other languages, especially those spoken in the wider community.
Learning these languages will help build ‘cultural bridges’ and provide natural opportunities for language development.
Wherever possible, schools are asked to broaden their teaching to include the languages spoken by significant numbers of Jersey students, as well as teaching Jèrriais.
The new Policy also encourages the use of different languages throughout the island’s physical and digital environment, including having signage in multiple languages.
Lastly, the Language Policy wants to ‘revitalise’ Jèrriais learning in schools, giving children the chance to become ‘new speakers’ of Jersey’s indigenous language.
The aim is for Jèrriais to become fully integrated with Jersey’s curriculum, with the potential for students to be taught through the medium of Jèrriais.
CYPES also hopes that Jèrriais will become more audible and visible in and beyond educational settings, and will instil a sense of belonging in islanders from all backgrounds.
The Language Policy will be reviewed every three years to ensure it continues to ‘meet the needs’ of students.
Director of Education, Seán O'Regan, added: "The promotion and development of language is essential to identity and inclusion, so it's the aim of our new Jersey languages policy to provide a consistent framework to create optimal conditions for students to achieve and reach their full potential."
The Language Policy was launched at the end of last month, with students coming together to celebrate different cultures...
Pupils share a snippet of Polish dancing
A traditional Irish jig
French poem, La Fourmi
(Videos courtesy of Nichole Moore)
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