The Daily Mail published an article last weekend on how migrant school children are putting “huge financial strain” on teaching standards in UK schools, suggesting that the education of native English pupils is floundering as a result.
As a company that knows the important a role language and culture play in making the United Kingdom a business superpower, admired by other nations, we at Today Translations felt that there were a few issues in this article worth considering.
The article states that the cost of educating a child whose first language is not English is an estimated £30,000 a year to educate, compared to the £5,000 it costs to educate a native pupil.
To cover the cost, the article goes on to say that the UK Government will have to spend roughly £5 billion by next year to ease the crisis.
Here are four reasons why we believe migrant school children make up an essential part of the classroom.
A non-native speaker does not mean non-speaker
Simply because a migrant child does not speak English at home does not mean that they are unable to speak English, full stop. Of course, their English skills will not be flawless on the first day of school, but by being educated in English, they are spending most of their days in an English-speaking environment.
At a young age, learning a new language is seamless when compared to at an older age. It is therefore difficult to imagine younger students struggling with English in the classroom for more than a mere couple of months.
Older students, meanwhile, we expect will most likely already have a good grasp of English. Statistics released for 2013 by Euro Stat show that roughly 75% of primary school pupils in Poland, the Baltic States and Bulgaria are learning English. These nationalities make up roughly 70% of all migrant school children in the UK.
Migrant kids are desperate to speak English
Hailing from Lithuania, our founder and CEO, Jurga Zilinskiene, is an engaged member of London’s Lithuanian community, spending a lot of time with fellow migrants and their families. She says one thing that always strikes her is how quickly their young children pick up the language. They’re excited by the prospect of speaking English, always striving to improve and often going as far as picking up the local dialect and slang.
Let us remember, many migrant children are living the British dream that many natives have forgotten.
Polyglots thrive – fact
When it comes to foreign language learning, the UK Government’s education policy is frankly anything but ideal. Overreliance on the notion that English is the world’s language is foolhardy and, as we have previously written, leaves Britain at risk in the long-term.
Should migrant children consider adopting UK citizenship, Britain should be happy that it will be able to boast a proportion of the population that speaks at least two languages. Britain has some catching up to do in this area. By contrast, in most of the European Union multilingualism is the rule rather than the exception.
The natives stand to benefit as well
London is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, a trend that shows no signs of yielding. Like it or loath it, that is the changing face of the city and many of its cosmopolitan counterparts. There are many benefits to embracing the cultures that surround us.
To keep the next generation as pioneers of the global society, we must equip them with the right skills and understanding to proper. The only way do this is to engage with and learn from one another, and what is a better way to begin than in the multicultural classroom?