Translanguaging in use by schools

Our Romtels resources have helped schools beyond our project team establish a translanguaging pedagogy with their own pupils. This page shares examples from schools. 

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Case study: A rich tapestry of language

Harriet Crossley, EAL Leader at Bowling Park Primary School

Bowling Park is a large inner-city primary school in Bradford. We currently have over 70 children registered as Roma/ Gypsy Roma – this number far exceeds other numbers in the city. We are a place of safety and welcome, and we place an enormous emphasis on engaging with families by having a good understanding of their cultural background. We have learned that having on-site translators has allowed for us to build open and trusting relationships with parents;  we were very keen to explore opportunities to implement a multi-lingual pedagogy which would help Roma children access the mainstream curriculum with deeper understanding and increased enjoyment. The ROMtels project fits the bill perfectly!

Our work began with classroom discussions about language. What languages do you speak at home? What languages do we speak in school? We then opened up the discussion to the wider school community, exploring similarities across different languages. The Roma children were fascinated when they realised many words from their own language were the same as their Urdu speaking classmates! This led us to explore the cultural background of Roma, tracing them back to their Ancient Indian origin. The children used maps and globes to navigate the journeys taken by their ancestors and more recently, of their parents.

Our working wall became a rich tapestry of language. We recorded new English words alongside home language. If the children didn’t know a word in home language, we used pictures and encouraged them to ask their parents as ‘homework’. Maths lessons became more engaging and interactive as children worked in groups to solve problems using a combination of home language and English terminology. Children were free to develop and deepen their understanding using whatever language came naturally to them.

Children were encouraged to explore the grammatical structures of their home languages. They looked at whether the adjective preceded the noun or not, they thought about how sentences changed when they were in the past tense. These activities inspired the children to consider their home languages and English at a more profound level.

We believe the ROMtels strategy presents an enormous opportunity to make our classrooms even more inclusive. We are now hoping to develop the ROMtels project further by training teachers to use a translanguaging pedagogy in lessons to allow Roma children to unlock their academic potential in all areas of the curriculum. In addition to this, we are hoping to invite parents into school to participate in enquiry-based activities alongside their children to promote problem-solving skills, tell stories and learn in an environment which feels homely, safe and accessible.