English as a second language: a success story

Peter T. Howe, Principal of UWC Atlantic College, writes about how he does not see the linguistic diversity in classrooms across the UK as an obstacle but rather as an opportunity.

UWC Atlantic College was one of the first schools in the world to offer an IB programme and educates around 360 students each year, representing over 90 different nationalities.

Today over 300 languages are being spoken across classrooms in the UK and many wonder how schools will be able to cater to all students equally. Howe explains how his school – where English is not the first language for the majority of his students – has embraced linguistic diversity by seizing “the platform to turn challenges into opportunities that benefit all students.”

He asks: “Regardless of whether English is their first, second, or third language, why can’t native English speakers be encouraged to learn about the mother tongue and cultures of their classmates?

An inclusive approach is important and labelling students as having “additional learning needs” can have detrimental effects on self-esteem and development, Howe writes. “Instead of looking at native, second and third languages to define our differences, we should be looking to use and develop language skills to unite our classrooms and communities,” he notes.

Find out more about research on the benefits of learning in two languages in this blog post and about how hope can help learning in an English as a second language classroom in this blog post.

 

Read the full article by Peter T. Howe here.