Languages: Education

Department for Education written question – answered on 26th February 2016.

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Party Chair, Co-operative Party

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many students were entered for (a) GCSE and (b) A levels in (i) Arabic, (ii) modern Greek, (iii) Japanese, (iv) Urdu, (v) Bengali, (vi) modern Hebrew, (vii) Punjabi, (viii) Polish, (ix) Dutch, (x) Persian, (xi) Turkish, (xii) Albanian, (xiii) Cantonese and (xiv) Mandarin in (A) total and (B) each region in (1) 2011, (2) 2012, (3) 2013, (4) 2014 and (5) 2015; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

It is not possible to identify pupils entered for Mandarin Chinese from data held by the Department. The Department does hold information on the number of entries into GCSE Chinese which includes Mandarin Chinese and other Chinese subjects, including Cantonese.

There is no GCSE or A level qualification in Albanian.

The table attached provides information on the number of GCSE and A level entries for the stated subjects in each region between 2010/11 and 2014/15. [1][2]

[1] Coverage is for all state-funded schools (including academies and CTCs) in England.

[2] Figure has been suppressed due to low numbers (1 or 2 pupils) or where secondary suppression has been applied.

Number of A level entries (Excel SpreadSheet, 44.79 KB)
Number of GCSE entries (Excel SpreadSheet, 44.79 KB)

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Iftikhar Ahmad
Posted on 27 Feb 2016 3:06 pm (Report this annotation)

Muslim children must learn and be well versed in standard English to follow the National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. At the same time they must learn and be well versed in Arabic, Urdu and other community languages to keep in touch with their cultural heritage and enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry. This is the main reason why Muslim community would like to send their children to state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers. The needs and demands could be met only through Muslim schools with Muslim teachers, otherwise, they would be lost in western jungle.

Studies suggest that giving bilingual education to children can provide long-lasting benefits, like delaying dementia; teaching better self-regulation skills needed for focus and self-control; increasing children’s awareness of new sounds like the ones they hear in the second language; and boosting creativity.

English is not a peace building language for the Muslim children in British schooling. Majority of English speaking Muslim youths are extremists, find themselves cut off from their cultural heritage and are unable to enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry. One can find English speaking Muslim youths in Syria and Iraq, in prison and in the mental hospital. Thanks to English language. English is the economic language of the Muslims while Arabic , Urdu and other community languages are the social and emotional languages of the Muslim community.

Bilingualism has positive effects on children’s linguistic and educational development. The level of development of children’s mother tongue is a strong predictor of their second language development. Mother tongue promotion in the school helps develop not only the mother tongue but also children abilities in the majority school language. Spending instructional time through minority language in the school does not hurt children’s academic development in the majority school language. When parent’s culture are recognized by the school, their interest and involvement in the curriculum often increase dramatically.

Children’s mother tongue is fragile and easily lost in the early years of school. Language lies at the heart of any culture. The different languages spoken provide clear links with the family and community traditions which enrich British culture. To reject a child’s language in the school is to reject a child. Children cultural and linguistic experience in the home is the foundation of their future learning and we must build on that foundation rather than undermine it. Increased cultural and language awareness could help to combat hooliganism.

Languages, by virtue of their direct contribution to economic competitiveness, intercultural tolerance and social cohesion, should have the status of a key skill alongside literacy, numeracy and ICT. The government should establish a national strategy for developing capability in languages and a system capable of supporting such a strategy. A language supremo should be attached to the cabinet office and have direct access to the Prime Minister. He should persuade the notoriously monolingual British to learn a language. New languages supremo must persuade reluctant Brits to speak something other than English. British society is already a multilingual society. The first wave of immigrants arrived with two or three languages from the sub-continent but its young generation is unable to feel pride in its mother tongue. The government should declare a firm commitment to early language learning for all children at age five. The key to success in business, the law and politics in the future will be the mastery of at least one foreign language. Knowledge of more than one language demonstrates that a candidate has the ability to think across cultural boundaries. Bilingualism enhances children’s development.

After the Second World War migrants from the Indian sub-continent started creating pockets by settling in all big cities of the United Kingdom with a spoken language known as Urdu by Muslims and Hindi by Hindus. It is impossible to find any Asian who cannot speak or understand this language. Majority of the movies, radios and TVs programs are in Urdu/Hindi. We can easily say that it has become a lingua francia of the Asian community.

Arabic, Urdu and other community languages are taught in all secondary schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. But the curriculum is so basic that the pupils are unable to read a newspaper or write a letter. The tradition of British education is that it never took the teaching of foreign languages seriously, therefore, the standard and the quality is poor. It does not matter for the English pupils to take a foreign language with interest but it is a question of life and death for the Muslim and especially Pakistani pupils, otherwise they will be cut off from their roots. Majority of Muslims are from Pakistan, they also need to learn and be well versed in Arabic as a religious language and Urdu as a social and emotional language. The teaching of Arabic Urdu and other community languages should be introduced from Nursery level; otherwise there is a danger of its extinction.
At present the Muslim community from the sub-continent is confused about so many issues regarding Urdu language. Sooner or latter they have to get rid of the confusion for the sake of their future generation and for the future of Urdu language. The Muslim youths are unable to enjoy the beauty and charm of their language. They are incapable of enjoying the emotional, mental and spiritual pleasures of Urdu language. The intellectuals of the Muslim community are worried that the dominance of English language will destroy the cultural heritage of Muslims from the sub-continent. Now they are thinking very seriously to devise ways and means to avoid the natural death of Urdu language.
Iftikhar Ahmad
London School of Islamics Trust