English for Immigrants (1963)

This pamphlet gave advice on the teaching of English as a foreign language to immigrant children and adults.

The complete document is shown in this single web page. You can scroll through it or use the following links to go to the various sections.

1 Introduction (page 1)
2 Immigrant children in our schools (3)
3 English in schools (12)
4 English for adults (22)
Bibliography (33)

The text of English for Immigrants was prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 2 May 2022.

English for Immigrants (1963)
Ministry of Education Pamphlet No. 43

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1963
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.


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[title page]

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION PAMPHLET No. 43



English for Immigrants








LONDON
HER MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE
1963


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Contents

Page
CHAPTER 1 Introduction1
CHAPTER 2 Immigrant children in our Schools3
CHAPTER 3 English in Schools12
CHAPTER 4 English for Adults22
BIBLIOGRAPHY33







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CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

For many years it has been a not uncommon sight, especially in Liverpool and Cardiff and some other places, to see in our schools children whose appearance proclaimed their foreign origin. It was always perhaps a slight shock to hear that those children, the Chinese boy in a Liverpool school or the Indian boy in Cardiff, not only spoke English fluently but spoke it with a marked local accent. For those children had been born in this country and grew up often speaking English as well as, if not better than, their own mother tongue. Here was a vivid reminder of the fact that during the first half of the present century Britain has been no stranger to the task of absorbing into the community immigrants from many other countries, not only from Europe but from countries more distant.

But it is the wave of immigration flowing in during the past twelve or fifteen years from different parts of the Commonwealth, from the West Indies, India, Pakistan, Cyprus and West Africa, which from the point of view of numbers has presented our society and not least our schools with the greatest challenge. Some of these immigrants come already equipped with English either as their mother tongue or because in their own country English is widely used as a second language or taught as a foreign language. In such cases it is important to remember that for a variety of reasons English has developed differently in different countries, both as regards pronunciation and as regards structure and vocabulary. Because of these almost inevitable differences the English of our visitors may sometimes appear to our unaccustomed ear difficult to comprehend. But many of the immigrants have come with no English and one of the first tasks which confronts them in the complex process of settling down in their new environment is to learn something of its language, for economic as well as for social or cultural reasons.

Since the immigrants often bring their families with them, the number of children of overseas parentage in our schools has vastly increased and in some areas is still increasing - and that


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not only in cities or towns where such children have long been an accepted feature of many schools but also in areas where the problem is new. And it is a problem, though by no means insoluble, since so many of these children now come to school speaking little or no English. So we have significant numbers of Pakistani children in Birmingham, of Italian children in Bedford, of Indian children in some parts of Middlesex, of Greek-speaking and Turkish-speaking Cypriots in many parts of London - to mention only a few examples - in addition to the many West Indian children who are to be found in many different parts of the country. In some areas the increase in the percentage of children of overseas parentage in certain schools has been little short of spectacular, rising sometimes within two or three years to forty or fifty per cent or even more. In other cases the striking feature is not so much the number of children from overseas as the number of different countries from which they come. One education authority in Greater London could recently boast of having representatives from no less than 58 different countries in its schools.

As a result, many schools and a great many teachers have had in recent years their first experience of receiving into their midst considerable numbers of pupils from overseas. It is perhaps appropriate to record here that the schools and the teachers have taken this new responsibility most seriously and conscientiously. They have proved themselves adaptable and resourceful in conditions that are often extremely demanding and have received their new pupils with kindness and sympathy and often with a real affection. They have over the past few years built up a most valuable body of knowledge and experience in dealing with the new situation presented to them, and it is on this experience and on their best practice that the points raised and the suggestions made in the following two chapters are largely based.

Chapter four considers the teaching of English to adults who wish to learn the language or to improve their knowledge of it. Immigrants are of course only one section of the adult community wishing to learn or to improve their English. There are large and constantly growing numbers of full-time students from Asia and Africa who are seeking to improve their English either as a preliminary to further study or while actually engaged on it. There are large numbers of au-pair girls and some young men from the countries of Western Europe and full-time students as well as short-term visitors from many parts of the world.


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Representatives of all these groups may meet in the English classes organised in colleges of further education, in technical colleges, in evening institutes or in the many independent schools which offer English courses for foreigners. In some areas there may be classes specially organised for immigrants with their special needs and circumstances very much in mind; in others the immigrant must make what use he can of existing classes planned for some other purpose. The problem is a somewhat complicated one, since the needs of these various groups tend to be different, the standard of teaching is exceedingly variable, the claims of work may make regular attendance difficult, and in any case a class attended only once or twice a week does not make for rapid progress in acquiring a language. Nevertheless, the many teachers engaged on some aspect of teaching English to immigrants and other adult visitors from overseas may find the suggestions discussed in chapter four useful and stimulating.

CHAPTER TWO

Immigrant Children in our Schools

The motives of immigrants in coming to Britain may be varied, but it is certainly true that the attractive picture of well paid jobs, painted more or it may be less accurately by friends and relatives, has had much to do with their decision to tear up their roots and migrate, either with their families or in the hope of being joined by them later. Thus, the men who emigrate tend to be younger rather than older and those who are married usually have children of school age and are indeed anxious that their children should derive every possible educational advantage from going to school in Britain. The problems which arise in receiving immigrant children into school and in helping them to become adjusted to the new community in which they find themselves are obviously not rendered easier when the children - and their parents - have little or no English. This will not of course apply to the West Indians, who share our language with us even though they use it rather differently, especially in colloquial speech, but the great majority of children from Pakistan and India and Cyprus come to school without any


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knowledge of English and must learn it as rapidly and effectively as possible if their education is to progress; this particular aspect of the problem is considered in the following chapter. Here we must remind ourselves of some more general considerations.

In the education of our own children we consider it necessary to understand as fully as possible the home environment from which they come. It is an even more demanding responsibility to understand the environment which surrounds our immigrant pupils in their homes, in the street, in the neighbourhood in which they live. In their own homes the children will be loved and cherished by their parents as are our own, but this affection may well show itself in ways which we find not only different but somewhat perplexing. We must frequently remind ourselves that the parents of these children come from countries with social and cultural backgrounds different and often widely different from our own, in which the attitude to such things as family ties and obligations, marriage, position of girls and women, as well as the more mundane matters of food and dress may be radically different from and even at variance with our own. It is equally important to remember how dangerous it is to generalise. For example, it is probably true that more attention has been paid to the study of West Indians in Britain than to any other immigrant community, but the knowledge and experience so derived cannot be applied to our visitors from Cyprus or from India or from Pakistan. Each country possesses its own distinct cultural heritage, of which its representatives are naturally proud, and generalisations about immigrants and immigrant children are likely to be entirely misleading.

So the immigrant child who comes to our school will almost certainly come from a home where the whole pattern of inherited tradition and family organisation is quite different from that with which we are familiar in the case of our own children. The school must be exceedingly careful not to set up or to aggravate tensions between the child and his parents, particularly the mother who is more likely to distrust this new way of life and its effect on her children than the father who has deliberately chosen to expose his children to it. And the very warmth and kindliness of the welcome so often extended to the little stranger from overseas may so quickly win his confidence that he is indeed anxious to please his new friends by modifying his habits of dress and eating and hair style even at the risk


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of his parents' displeasure, ignorant of the anxiety that he may be causing them and not understanding the subtle problems involved in the clash of two different ways of life. This is perhaps an important point often overlooked or underestimated by many who talk eloquently about "integration".

So arises the first large problem, and in some ways a very fundamental one, for the schools. To what extent can or should they expect their immigrant pupils to conform to the school's way of life? In some quite elementary matters such as use of toilet facilities, handkerchiefs, care of apparatus, and so on, careful training has often to be given for the benefit of everyone concerned. But even the most gentle pressure over conformity in matters of dress, food, and so on, requires careful thought, the more so when conformity is willingly accepted and indeed enjoyed by the immigrant pupil but may lead to tension with disapproving parents, who do not wish their traditional ways of life undermined by school influence. Perhaps we should remind ourselves more often of the attitude likely to be adopted by British parents who for one reason or another found themselves in another country and their children going to school there. It is part of the school's general responsibility to assist its pupils to become adjusted to the environment in which they find themselves, and indeed its success in so doing will largely affect its success in its more specifically educational objectives. But the extent to which adjustment demands conformity, the kind of conformity that a too narrow interpretation of "integration" would seek to impose, is a matter for rather more careful deliberation than it sometimes receives and perhaps for more extensive consultation with individual parents.

This problem has three further aspects which deserve mention. In the first place, it cannot be taken for granted that the immigrants intend to settle permanently in this country and to adopt the British way of life. Indeed, the explicit aim of many who come to this country is to save enough money to be able to return home within a few years with some prospect of economic security. If such men have their families with them, they are more likely to want for their children what they regard as a fundamental education rather than the trappings of school uniform and so on, and may be extremely suspicious of their children becoming too "anglicised". Secondly, many immigrant parents who come here with every intention of settling do not wish their children to forget or abandon too much of their


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traditional culture. They may even arrange for their children to attend special private classes in the evenings or at weekends to study the religion, or history or language of their own country. Such competing demands on the time, energies and loyalties of the children must be fully recognised by the schools, and when possible consultation with parents is likely to be advantageous to everyone concerned, not least to the children themselves. Thirdly, it is only fair to remember that teachers are concerned not only with immigrant children but with all the children in the school; it is not always easy to reconcile what may be the very special needs of a group of immigrants with the general aims and objectives which a Head has set before himself. The presence of the considerable number of immigrant children in a school or in a class cannot but affect the nature of the problem with which a Head or a teacher has to concern himself, and cherished aims or familiar methods may require considerable modification. As long as the number of immigrant children in a class or in a school is reasonable in proportion to the number of British children, this problem is by no means insoluble but is rather in the nature of a stimulating challenge. But when, as has sometimes happened, the immigrant children begin to outnumber the British children, the problem may for a number of reasons become exceedingly complex and difficult.

It is perhaps difficult to imagine what kind of experience it is for a child to be transported bodily not so much from one country to another as from one cultural environment to another so radically different that in the early stages at least there seems to be no point of similarity to help to establish some confidence and feeling of security. In this country we devote a great deal of attention at various stages in a child's development to preparing him for the next stage, whether it be the fairly straightforward task of getting him ready to start reading or the more complicated process of transferring from one school to another. Let us realise quite clearly how little preparation the immigrant child has for the immensely more complex move that is thrust upon him. And hardly has he set foot in the amazing new country before he is bustled off to school, away from the sheltering companionship of his own relatives and from the support of people who speak his language. For the more adventurous child it can be a stimulating experience and many children in our schools obviously find it so. But an adventure which continues day after day without respite may well become a rather strained test of endurance; never to be able to relax during the whole


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school day, always to be surrounded by strange faces and an unfamiliar language, always to be conscious of being a stranger in a strange land, can be a severe trial even for the most adventurous spirit.

The school which receives immigrant children into its midst must therefore be kindly and sympathetic, but that is not all; goodwill is not enough. It must be understanding first in the sense that it must possess some knowledge of the country or countries from which its new pupils come and of the religious, social and cultural habits and traditions which have so far influenced their upbringing. Secondly, it must be understanding in the sense that it can exercise discretion in controlling the pace and the extent to which these children are exposed to the unfamiliar or terrifying or over-exciting or unsettling aspects of their new environment. There are perhaps more books available to help in acquiring this knowledge than is sometimes realised: a sample bibliography appears in an appendix to this pamphlet. In order that teachers may be kept fully up-to-date - because for obvious reasons books do not always keep pace with the rapid rate of modern developments - pamphlets and other material are often available from interested parties, either from Government Departments, from the High Commissions in London or from the various voluntary bodies concerned with the problem. Many local educational authorities have organised, sometimes with the co-operation of the Ministry of Education, extremely valuable conferences in order to provide such background knowledge, and this very welcome kind of assistance could well receive more attention from the many other bodies concerned with the provision of courses for practising teachers.

The immigrant pupil will, of course, be able to relax in his own home life, surrounded by the affection of his relatives, hearing his own language, eating familiar food, and behaving in the old ways which he thoroughly understands. Let us not think it unreasonable that parents should continue to speak their own language with their child in their homes, despite the school's wish that he should practise his English! It may do very much more good than we realise merely by providing some relief from possible tension. But the homes from which our own children come are not always free from anxieties of one kind and another, and we know some of the effects that may manifest themselves in children's behaviour and attitudes in school. The home of the immigrant child is equally likely, perhaps more likely, to have its share of uncertainties and anxieties, which


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are bound to have some effect, at least on the older children. It has sometimes been argued that most of the problems which confront the immigrant, problems about a house, a job, health, relations with his neighbours and his workmates, and so on, are not peculiar to immigrants. This may well be true, but it must be added that in the case of the immigrant the problem is always emphasised, often complicated and sometimes distorted by the very fact that he is an immigrant, perhaps because he is not familiar with our customs and modes of procedure, perhaps because he does not understand our language very well, perhaps because his every-day habits are different from ours, perhaps because his skin is another colour.

It is often the case that immigrant parents, when faced with some apparently baffling problem such as the interpretation of a regulation or a visit to a hospital or a piece of business with a government department, turn to the school for guidance and help. Certainly many Heads of schools seem to spend a considerable amount of time and energy in helping the parents of immigrant children to deal with their social and domestic problems. But there is this danger that such Heads, with the best of intentions, are being to some extent distracted from their proper function of keeping a careful watch on every aspect of the school's life and work and giving help and guidance in the classroom. The more immigrant children there are in a school or in a class, the more guidance will be required by teachers who may have had little experience of the particular problems now presented to them. Here again there is need for much discretion. Obviously no Head would want to erect a barrier between himself and parents, and his willingness to help them in a purely private difficulty may play an important part in winning their confidence and breaking down their suspicion and reserve. On the other hand, many local authorities have appointed special officers to their staffs or have financed their appointment to a voluntary body for the sole purpose of devoting all their time to the problems of the immigrant community; in addition, a number of voluntary bodies and committees are constantly meeting and evolving new means of helping the immigrant to settle down harmoniously. Each Head should be well briefed about the various bodies which operate in his area and have clearly established lines of communication with them, remembering always that such bodies are much more likely to give the expert help required than the well intentioned amateur. If the school has to spend time in giving advice and help to some more pressing


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cases, then there might well be a case for the appointment of welfare assistants who could relieve the Head from at least some of this time consuming and often extremely wearing responsibility.

Some distinction has already been made between the problems which arise for the immigrant as they would arise for anyone else simply because he is living in our society at this particular time and those which are complicated by the fact that he is an immigrant. It is perhaps understandable that some immigrants should consider all their problems as in the second category and attribute them to some kind of racial discrimination. As far as the school is concerned, whenever it is desired to treat immigrant children in a rather different way from our own children, for example by putting them in a special class for intensive English teaching, the parents should be briefed as fully as possible about the school's purpose; otherwise it may be cited as an example of racial discrimination. As has been suggested above, over hasty "integration" may cause some quite difficult problems, none the less important because they may not be immediately obvious. On the other hand, "integration" that appears to be proceeding too slowly for some people's liking should as far as possible be fully explained and the educational reasons given to those closely concerned; otherwise problems of a different kind may result.

Several references have already been made to the need for a school establishing communication with the parents of its immigrant children. For a variety of reasons this is not always easy. For example, the most obvious difficulty may be that of language. A mother, shy about contact with strangers in any case and perhaps quite unaccustomed to it, may be finally deterred from visiting the school because she has little or no English. The working hours of many fathers and even of some mothers may make a visit to school difficult or impossible. Very often when father or mother does finally make the effort, the language barrier proves insurmountable and much time is wasted to no particular effect. Schools have had recourse to a variety of procedures to overcome this difficulty. Some Heads have provided themselves with questions written out in another language, which can be used when the parent or relative first brings the child to school. Others have arranged to let it be known amongst a particular immigrant community that on certain occasions in the week a suitable interpreter will be in attendance at school - sometimes a parent who possesses both


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languages, sometimes a teacher from the Commonwealth, and even on occasion a pupil or a former pupil. Some Heads have found it advantageous to ensure that all written communications to parents shall be translated into their own language. whether it be Greek or Hindi or Bengali or some other tongue. Others, again, have arranged special evening meetings for parents, again with an interpreter in attendance, so that the lack of English may not prove an embarrassment. But however it is done, these lines of communication must be established and kept open, and a little thought and organisation can often prevent great loss of time for the school and considerable discouragement to the parent. Whatever policy of "integration" the school may adopt, it will obviously be easier and more effective if it has the understanding and co-operation of the parents concerned and indeed of the whole immigrant community which the school serves.

Invitations may of course be sent to the parents of immigrant pupils to attend any school function which is normally attended by parents in general, but the school should not be too disappointed if they come only in very small numbers either because of shyness or because of language difficulties or for some other reason. School concerts or exhibitions of work or open days are more likely to attract than other kinds of meetings, and it will always be helpful if invitations to the immigrant parents in their own language explain what is to happen. British parents, whether they meet the immigrant parents at school functions or not, will naturally be aware of the presence of immigrant children in the classes attended by their own children, and will probably want some reassurance, especially in those schools where there are large numbers of immigrant children, that the progress of their own children is not being impeded. But the school may well be able to play an even more positive part in building bridges between the older residents and the new-comers from abroad by arranging a programme of lectures and discussions to assist the older residents in understanding the reasons for the presence of the immigrants in our midst and in appreciating the contribution they are making to our society. In view of the complexity of the British attitude towards strangers, a complexity for which our imperial past has been largely responsible, it is certain that in many if not most areas where immigrants have settled some kind of re-education of the older residents may be necessary. The school is often well placed to assist in this task, if only by giving both the older and the newer residents an


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opportunity of hearing each other's point of view. Particularly is this true if there exists prejudice arising from differences of colour.

It can fairly be claimed that such prejudices are rarely found in the schools themselves. Younger children seem to be quite unconscious of colour differences and there is no more pleasing sight than to watch in some of our primary schools groups of children of different racial origins working and playing happily together. Here has been created quite naturally and effectively the kind of social climate in which differences of race or of colour are accepted as a matter of course and are simply not noticed. In general, much the same situation exists in the secondary schools, though at this stage the prejudices and dislikes of parents may begin to affect some of the older boys and girls. Yet even here a somewhat curious state of affairs is sometimes revealed. Older boys and girls may repeat in school the expressions of prejudice or dislike which they hear being bandied about in the out-of-school environment; and yet their dislike seldom extends to the individual coloured pupils who share their work and play in school. It is easier for those youngsters, as perhaps for many of their parents, to be prejudiced against a more or less abstract idea than to dislike a real living person whom they know as somebody so like themselves.

But even so the schools cannot afford to rest on their laurels. They must rather consider sincerely whether they are taking sufficiently positive steps to equip their pupils with knowledge about the countries from which the immigrant pupils come and the contributions which they are making to our society, so that the young people who on the whole have been reasonably free from racial discrimination in school may not succumb on leaving school to the irrational prejudices which they may encounter in the adult community. Some indeed would argue that all the children should be introduced in their science lessons to the biological aspects of race and in their civics or current affairs to some consideration of race relations. However that may be, it is certainly true that the presence of these immigrant children can give an added immediacy and meaning to many of our geography and history lessons; their contributions from the arts of their countries can add interest and variety to many school occasions; their differing religions, customs, dress and food can provide most useful and immediate material for the inculcation of at least some measure of international understanding. The presence of our visitors from overseas can cause problems,


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especially if they come with little English and more especially if they come to any one school in very large numbers; but they also present challenging opportunities which a great many schools, both primary and secondary, have been quick to recognise and to accept with mutual advantage to British and immigrant pupils.

CHAPTER THREE

English in Schools

The presence in the schools of children with little or no English presents a problem of some magnitude, not least when classes are already large and teaching staff in short supply. In such conditions it is not easy to make the special provision that these children require. It is often said that if there are only two or three such children in a class, then there is no problem; simply leave the children to absorb the English they hear being used round about them and they will soon pick up the language. This is probably true in the case of overseas children in infant classes, but much less true of older children. Certainly by mere exposure to the language the children will pick up a good deal of English but largely at a social level; while they may be able to respond in English to everyday commonplace situations and problems, it will be a very long time before they acquire in this way sufficient English to enable them to pursue their studies in the more literary subjects of the curriculum, even at the junior stage and particularly in the secondary school. Thus, when there are comparatively few overseas children in a school, the problem is in some ways aggravated since it will be more difficult to make special provision for them; a larger number would merit special facilities in the way of staffing, accommodation and equipment.

When children come to enrol at a school immediately after their arrival in this country, the Head is at once confronted with the language difficulty. In all probability, the child will be brought to school by a parent whose own English is either very limited or non-existent, and it will be difficult if not impossible to find out much about the child, apart from his name and age. Whether or not he has already gone to school,


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what progress has been made, whether he is literate in his own language - all may remain unknown elements in the situation for a considerable time. Some schools, particularly in areas where the overseas children all come from the same country, have made good use of interpreters, not only at preliminary interviews in gaining useful background information but also for writing letters of instruction and guidance to the parents in their own language and for taking part in parents' meetings to ensure their full co-operation with the school.

As further background to the problem certain generalisations can be made about these children. For one reason or another the spread of native ability may not be exactly the same as in a corresponding group of English children. But there will certainly be amongst them children of all levels of ability, high as well as low. Further, the standards of literacy amongst them will vary much more widely than in a corresponding group of English children, especially if they come from a country with a less developed system of education than our own. Some may in fact never have gone to school in their own country. It should therefore never be assumed that because the children speak English little or not at all, they are backward and that their appropriate place is in a backward class. The extent of literacy in their own language - if it can be determined - may or may not be an indication of their intelligence; their knowledge of English when they arrive in this country is certainly not. If they are already literate in a language with a structure similar to English and with a Latin alphabet, they will have the less difficulty in learning to read English. But in any case the content of their English lessons may be difficult not for linguistic reasons but because of the very different cultural background of the pupils. It is important, too, to remember that children from other countries may be very different from English children in their emotional behaviour. It has for example, been observed that in primary classes which contain a significant proportion of children from Mediterranean countries the children generally become more excitable. and rather more difficult to control. Finally, pupils from abroad may come from a country where young people mature physically and emotionally more quickly than do pupils of the same age in this country, a fact which can be responsible for various complications not only in the task of learning English but also in general behaviour and attitude. These complications are especially likely to occur when the


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child has already finished school in his own country and is legally compelled to return to school when he arrives in this country.

What special provision should be made in schools for children who come with little or no English? Naturally, the problem is simplest at the infant stage, because the younger the child is, the less English he has to acquire to catch up with his fellows. But though it be less, it is certainly not negligible. One or two children from overseas in a normal class will absorb a good deal of English simply by participating in the ordinary life and work of the community with perhaps a little special attention from the teacher as opportunity presents itself. But this process of learning can be speeded up and rendered more effective, especially in the early stages, if the overseas children from several classes can be regularly taken out into the hall or playground, perhaps by the headmistress, and encouraged by specially devised games and play to learn and practise simple English which is already very familiar to the English children themselves. This method of attack will be most successful when the overseas children are distributed in small numbers over several classes. When any one class contains more than about one third of such children, the problem becomes more complex; such a class should certainly be kept small and much of the work in which language is important might well be done in two quite separate groups. Since a child from overseas will learn much from sitting beside an English child for at least some part of the day, tactful care should be taken to see that the overseas children do not form a little clique of their own. A new arrival may be attached at first to another child who speaks the same language, but the attachment should not be regarded as permanent. It is certainly true that the atmosphere of informality which today characterises most infant classes is conducive to the easy learning and absorption of language, and the demonstrative and realistic approach commonly adopted for acquiring the mother tongue is also most appropriate to the learning of a second language. Most overseas children who have spent a year or more in an infant school which tackles the problem on these general lines should in future have no greater difficulties with language than their English classmates.

Children who come with little or no English to a junior school present a rather more complex problem, if only because they have so much leeway to make up in order to compare with their English classmates. At the secondary school stage the


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leeway to be made up is even greater. It is perhaps easy to underestimate the extent of this leeway and to overestimate the rate of progress in making it up, simply because we tend to judge the child's grasp of English by engaging in normal conversation with him and not by testing systematically his comprehension of the sustained and complex English of, for example, the geography or history lesson. As compared with mere exposure to the English of a normal classroom, a carefully and intelligently planned intensive course, making full use of modern methods of language teaching and of appropriate audio-visual aids, can equip the child from overseas with a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the language which will enable him in a reasonable time to take his due place in an appropriate class, and, let it be repeated, not necessarily a class for backward children or slow learners.

It is for these reasons that careful consideration should be given to the possibility of allocating children with very limited English to special reception classes, preferably of not more than twenty pupils, in selected schools until such time as they have attained at least the minimum control of the English language necessary to enable them to be assimilated into a normal class. Experience would suggest that pupils need to spend at least a term in such a reception class. When numbers of such children are small in any one school, it may be possible to group children from several schools in order to form a class; such concentration of pupils is for obvious reasons simpler at the secondary school stage than in the case of junior pupils, since older pupils can be expected to travel longer distances. When such a concentration is for one reason or another impossible and when individual schools are required to handle only a few children, possibly in different age groups, an attempt might be made to withdraw them from their normal classes during lessons where the verbal content is particularly important and difficult e.g. English itself, history, geography, etc. They could then be given some kind of intensive course in English, possibly taught by the Head of the school, which would in due course enable them to be absorbed in their appropriate class. It should be emphasised at this point that such special classes should be staffed by teachers with some knowledge of modern methods of teaching English as a second language and provided with suitable accommodation and equipment. Teachers undertaking this work for the first time might well visit a good infant school, particularly to note how pupils often work together in small groups.


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Heads of schools have on occasion expressed the view that special provision of this kind amounts to a policy of segregating the overseas children from the rest of the school and that accordingly they would prefer to integrate the children into a normal class from the very start. It seems however that such immediate integration will be difficult and for a long time incomplete because of the language difficulty, and for the same reason the general educational progress of the pupil will be severely hampered. It is surely preferable to ensure by a preparatory intensive course that integration, where it does come, shall be accomplished more quickly and cause less concern and anxiety to a class teacher who has in all probability enough problems to contend with without the presence of one or more children who speak no English. Heads will be sensible enough to ensure that members of the special class do have an opportunity as seems appropriate to take part in the life of the school, e.g. by attending morning assembly, participating in games, etc., so that even a temporary segregation is by no means complete. There is one further argument in favour of the special reception class. Children who have just arrived in this country are bound to feel many features of their new environment different, perplexing and even frightening. Their membership of a special class in the early stages in the company of other children like themselves and under the tutelage of an understanding teacher can provide them with that element of stability and affectionate sympathy which is one of their prime needs in the process of readjustment.

As the English of the pupils in such a special reception class improves, they may individually be gradually absorbed into the life and work of the normal class deemed appropriate for them. This absorption can perhaps best be done in two stages, first only for activities such as music, art, craft, physical education etc., subjects in which the problems of language are less acute, and then later for all the work of the class. But even at this latter stage some kind of special provision is likely to be needed, as it may also be needed for foreign children whose English on arrival in school was not so limited as to merit a period in the special class. The language needs and difficulties of these pupils, even when they speak English quite fluently, will probably not be exactly the same as those experienced by the ordinary members of the class and in particular they are likely to have special difficulties with written work. It may therefore be desirable to withdraw them on several occasions in the week


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for special tuition in English or as an alternative to give them special work in the English class lessons. Teachers of subjects other than English who have in their classes children with limited English should never lose sight of this fact and do what they can by occasional individual help, by a different kind of written work or homework, and even perhaps by special tuition. Teachers should realise that in the early stages at least their subjects are more useful to such pupils as a vehicle for the learning in English than for the subject matter itself.

The main task which confronts the teacher appointed to teach a special reception class must be to gain the confidence of his pupils, to stimulate their interest and enthusiasm for learning English, and himself to provide a good model of English speech by which his pupils will be constantly and often unconsciously influenced. It has sometimes been thought advisable to appoint for this task a teacher of the same country and language as the pupils themselves. Such teachers have often made a most valuable contribution by acting as interpreters in times of need, by assisting the school in its contacts with the parents, and by helping the children to settle down in their new environment, both in and out of school. But simply as teachers of English they have sometimes been less successful, not through any lack of energy or good will but because their own English was not quite exact as regards such things as intonation and rhythm and because they experienced the same difficulties as did the children in the peculiarities both of pronunciation and of structure which make English so different from their own language.

Whatever organisation is adopted to deal with the problems discussed in the preceding paragraphs, the same general principles apply in regard to the actual methods of teaching. The subsequent section of this chapter concerns itself with suggesting possible lines of approach and possible techniques, all of which have been tried out in practice and proved to be of some value. A list of suggested reading for teachers is contained in an appendix to this pamphlet.

Let us start with the speaking of English, which is of paramount importance and should be accorded priority over reading and writing. We do not expect our own children to read and write until their speech is fluent. Further, the overseas child's ability to communicate with members of the new society in which he finds himself, whether inside or outside the classroom, depends largely upon this medium. Indeed, if an older pupil is below average ability, it can be argued that, for the purpose


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of school and later his job, good oral language is the important thing, reading being less important and writing less important still; aims may have to be differentiated to suit different levels of age and ability. The teacher, through his own clear and natural speech should set a constant example of the normal intonation, rhythm and pitch of ordinary conversation, using pictures, objects, actions and improvised dialogues to ensure comprehension and to enlarge vocabulary. The pupils should be expected to imitate what the teacher says, preferably in whole sentences, with as reasonable a standard of pronunciation and intonation as it seems appropriate to expect. But they should also be given the opportunity to try to express ideas of their own, with sympathetic correction from the teacher. Chorus work, organised frequently for short periods and preferably in not too large a group, can often help in practising and committing to memory essential patterns of speech; indeed such methods may be particularly valuable with older children who have lost something of their earlier delight in sheer imitation and may be self-conscious about their individual efforts.

Most teachers experienced in the teaching of English as a second language would stress the importance of basing oral work on a carefully graded vocabulary and carefully introduced sentence patterns. In this connection, it is as well to remember that the teaching of English to overseas children in this country is not exactly the same problem as if they were being taught English in their own country. For here, although they will probably use their mother tongue in their home, they will hear and absorb outside the classroom a good deal of English which will certainly not concern itself with graded vocabulary or selected sentence patterns. Even inside the home English will be brought to them by the radio and even more effectively by the television programmes which they see, and presumably they will find their way on occasion to the cinema. The pupil's whole environment will force English on his attention as a spoken language, thus causing for the teacher both complications and opportunities.

Reading should not, as it sometimes does, take precedence over speaking the language. Nevertheless, subject to the proviso already made about the pupil's ability, it is important not only for its own sake but also because it consolidates and extends what has been learned orally. It will obviously help the teacher to know firstly whether the pupil is literate in his own language


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and secondly whether his own language has a western type of script. The first exercise will be the reading of sentences already used in oral work. When the pupil turns to books, reading aloud and silent reading should at first be practised side by side. Reading aloud is a complex and difficult exercise; it is probably best done as an individual task or in quite small groups without the rest of the class being required to listen to incorrect pronunciation and intonation. But, with this proviso, reading aloud to the teacher helps the pupil to speak more clearly, and individual difficulties can be cleared away. Silent reading should occupy more and more of the pupil's time as he progresses. His vocabulary will thus be widened and his interest aroused, and he becomes familiar with difficulties more often encountered in books than in speech. Silent reading, moreover, gives the teacher opportunities to deal with individual pupils while allowing children of differing abilities and standards of attainment to read at their own pace. At the same time it should be remembered that a bright pupil already literate in a language with a Latin alphabet will learn to read quite easily and indeed his reading may develop ahead of his oral expression; hence the need to make sure by appropriate oral and written work that the vocabulary acquired by silent reading is not lightly absorbed and easily lost. With pupils who may be illiterate in their mother tongue, the teaching of reading will start as it does in the infant school, but with others it should start with graded passages of prose, after due oral preparation. This oral preparation, with questions and answers from teacher to pupils and from pupils to each other, and constant use of the blackboard to reinforce aural impressions, is of great importance as a preparation for reading and for writing. The same techniques, together with mime and acting, can be used for discovering whether pupils have understood what they have read to themselves. The books should, of course, have good clear type, plenty of colourful illustrations, and grading of vocabulary and syntax. A large number of short books, as well as a few longer ones, are needed. Attention might well be given to some of the books which have already been read, in history or geography or other subjects as well as in English, by the normal class which the pupil is sooner or later to join.

The writing of English is likely to be the most difficult aspect of the work for the overseas pupil, since, if he is sooner or later to take part in the work of a normal class, considerable demands will be made on his ability to use a variety of writing techniques.


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There are many pupils from abroad in secondary schools who can just about keep up with the oral work of their class but fail very badly when it comes to written work. And any significant examinations which they may wish to take will be written, not oral. In the early stages written work, if prepared orally and on the blackboard, will contain few mistakes. But copied or over-carefully controlled writing should give way as soon as may be to a freer style of writing, still based to some extent on oral preparation but presenting opportunities for individual composition. Paragraph and story writing, reproduction of material heard or read, descriptions, the keeping of a record or a diary, written work arising out of special projects or centres of interest, all have their due contribution to make. As the time comes near for a pupil in a reception class to be absorbed in a normal class, special attention should be given to the techniques of writing which he will be expected to attempt - and this special and possibly individual attention should continue after his transfer.

In the early stages of the course the teacher will use linguistic material that he has made himself, borrowing many of the techniques used in the primary school. Since for one reason or another translation methods will be impossible or undesirable, the pupil must learn the meaning of a word by seeing the real object or a picture of it or by seeing and himself doing the action involved. Hence the need to prepare and collect specimens, illustrations, models, etc., as well as apparatus and exercises designed to ensure mastery and progress. As the course progresses, a text-book will probably be found helpful. There exists a considerable variety of books specially designed for the learning of English as a second language, and one or other of these may prove useful, for example by supporting the teacher in the selection of material, by illustrating the importance of graded vocabulary, and by suggesting methods of dealing with structural difficulties. It is important, however, to remember the point already made in a preceding paragraph that the teaching of English to overseas children in this country is not the same problem as teaching it abroad. Accordingly, books designed for the latter purpose may have to be used with some modification in this country. The value of an attractively varied selection of books to tempt the pupils to read and to encourage them in such a habit can hardly be overestimated. In particular, attention may be drawn to the several series of books which


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are written in a simple style with a carefully controlled vocabulary and structure and yet which contain material likely to interest older children.

Most schools are today well equipped with a variety of audio-visual aids, blackboards. pictures, charts, slides, flannel-graphs, film strips, silent and sound projectors, record players, tape recorders, radio and even television. Not all the material prepared for these various media is suitable for the pupil learning English as a second language. But they can all be most valuable aids to the teacher of such pupils, and there is scope for much imagination and ingenuity, first in choosing the material that is suitable and then in presenting it in the most effective way. None of these aids can replace the teacher, but the film strip or the record player or the tape recorder can provide valuable occupations for small groups of pupils while the teacher's main attention is engaged elsewhere. In particular, the "twin-track" tape recorder enables pupils to work at the improvement of their pronunciation and intonation, often largely or entirely on their own; with such an aid pupils are able to undertake private study of the spoken word as they now undertake private study of the printed word. Since in this type of recorder the upper and lower tracks can operate simultaneously, the pupil can, for example, listen to a phrase recorded on the upper track, record his own imitation of it on the lower track, and then play back the two versions in order to compare his attempt with the correct version; or he can answer simple questions or practise grammatical "drills". These machines are easy to operate and quite young children have learned to use them without difficulty. The installation of several "twin-track" machines, each in a sound-proof booth with headphones for each pupil and with a direct connection to the teacher's "console", makes possible the language laboratory, which though expensive is now being provided in some schools and colleges, not as a substitute for the teacher but to provide pupils with the opportunity for sustained practice of language work first introduced by the teacher and to be followed up by him.

The presence of children from abroad in our schools is an interesting and challenging circumstance. Whether their stay here is to be short or long, they are affected by the law of the land and, if of compulsory school age, they must be educated according to their age, their ability and their aptitude. Their presence in our midst and their contacts and friendships with our own children can do much to foster international friendship


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and understanding - and not only on one side. But there is always the danger that pupils from abroad who have not been so long in this country that they speak English like a native will be handicapped throughout their whole career in school because of language difficulties. It is therefore extremely important that a most careful eye be kept on the English of such pupils who are being expected to tackle ordinary classwork, in order to ensure by such special attention as may be necessary that their English, whether in speech, reading or writing, is adequate to the demands being made on it and that their real ability is not being masked by language deficiencies. It is easier to over-estimate than to under-estimate the amount of English really mastered even by pupils who have lived in this country for several years.

CHAPTER FOUR

English for Adults

In recent years practice and thought and research have led to certain conclusions about the principles that should govern the teaching of a foreign language. Complete unanimity among modern language teachers and specialists in applied linguistics about methods of instruction has not of course been reached, and even generally agreed principles will vary somewhat in application according to the often widely differing needs, abilities and circumstances of the adult student in this country. But experience of inspecting the teaching of English to adult students from overseas in various classes and institutions in this country has shown that even the broad and established principles are as yet by no means universally accepted, with consequently disappointing results and unduly slow progress, especially in the early stages when efficient techniques of instruction are of paramount importance. The advice offered in this chapter is based on observation of the best work being done in this country, and accords with the main conclusions so far reached by those studying the principles of language learning. These principles are of course in essence the same for adults as for pupils of school age, and have already been stated or implied in the


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preceding chapter, but the application is sometimes different. In any case they are of such importance that repetition, albeit in a different context, is inevitable.

However important the techniques of instruction may be, it must be emphasized at the outset that the teacher of English, and the institution in which the teaching takes place, can play a vital role in influencing the attitude to this country of the overseas student. A sympathetic and helpful approach by the teacher will create a more lasting impression than any number of lectures on the British way of life, useful though these may be. A friendly reception in the institutions where the lessons are held, invitations and encouragement to take part in social activities and to attend classes in cultural and practical subjects, can do much for international relations; this can also provide occasions for learning and practising a wider variety of vocabulary and speech patterns than may be possible in the English lessons proper. Much of the best work is being done by teachers and institutions who have given thought to such matters. The British Council takes a particular interest in the welfare of overseas students who are in Britain for the purpose of full-time study and who intend to return to their own countries at the end of their courses. A wide range of social and cultural activities is available at Council centres in most large cities.

Unless the teacher is fortunate enough to work in an institution where the number of overseas students learning English is large enough to allow careful grading into several classes, he may have to cope with a wide variety of nationalities, abilities and stages of proficiency in English. If all the students are to take an active part in the lesson, a considerable amount of group work has to be organized. For part of the time the teacher might well concentrate on oral work with one group while a second group is reading, a third writing, and a fourth, if facilities are available, using some teaching aid such as a gramophone, a film-strip, a film, or a tape-recorder. On the other hand, it is desirable at some time during the lesson to have the whole class together for such activities as drama, singing, and even the kind of general conversation which can be conducted by a skilful teacher so as to suit a fairly wide range of proficiency. It is obvious that such work requires careful preparation in advance and will make considerable demands on the teacher's time and resourcefulness. The smaller


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the class the easier it is to do efficient work, and every effort should be made by all concerned to keep classes down to a reasonable size.

The fact that there may be in the class a variety of mother-tongues need not embarrass the teacher, because the only methods possible with such a class in the earlier stages are fortunately those which do not involve translation and are yet the most efficient. It is true of course that some students find the pronunciation and intonation of English harder than do others, but the skilful teacher will try to understand the particular difficulties of each student, and will know how to provide extra practice for him. Like all teachers of foreign languages the teacher will find a knowledge of the way in which sounds are produced by the vocal organs to be of great value in helping his students, and especially those whose powers of mere imitation are insufficient to produce the correct sounds.

It would be not only misleading but wrong to suggest that there is only one effective way to teach English as a second language. The phrase "direct method" is not meant to indicate a detailed method as much as a general approach, an attitude on the part of the teacher, a determination to use English as much as possible without an intermediary language and to give the students every possible opportunity to hear, speak and write English. New material can be introduced in various ways so that the meaning is clear. Meanings can often be demonstrated by real objects, by pictures, by drawings on the blackboard. or by mime. "Money", "my money", "your money", "my money is in my pocket", "your money is on the table" can be successively demonstrated without difficulty. A teacher need not rely on a text-book for such an approach, but the most careful preparation is required. Whenever possible, the sentences should be realistic and useful. It is an illuminating exercise to examine the sentences given for practice in many text-books, and to try to imagine real-life situations in which they could be of any conceivable use.

The superstition that one must know the grammatical rules and terminology of a language before being able to speak it dies hard, and overseas students themselves fall into this error. It is true that our appreciation of a language which we can already use may be deepened by an understanding of its grammatical structure, and the more able students at the later stages may find it helpful to co-ordinate their knowledge; it is equally


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true that for many students grammatical terminology and explanations are of no practical value at any of the stages they may reach. The stress must be on oral and written practice of English in everyday usage, with appropriate reading at each stage, and with the sentence as the unit of speech. Whatever their ability and knowledge, the students can only acquire proficiency in speaking the language and in writing it easily and idiomatically by actually using the language and not by grammatical analysis. Many students who arrive in England with a "book" knowledge of English are pathetically inarticulate and may be almost unintelligible for want of training in pronunciation and intonation. The orderly and progressive presentation and practice of speech patterns in groups which have structural or idiomatic similarities should shape the course, and the teacher will have grammatical structure very much in mind. But in the earlier stages of learning, grammar as an analysis and codification of a language already known has obviously no meaning and is a waste of valuable time.

The wise teacher will take care, especially in the early stages, to use a limited active vocabulary and to enlarge it at a carefully controlled rate. Whenever possible, a new word should be introduced in such a way that it becomes fixed in the memory by an active or a visual method, e.g. by the performing of an action or by the seeing of an object or its picture. Practice should then be given in the use of the new word in sentences so that it becomes an active and not a passive element in the student's expanding knowledge. The building of families of related words enlists the valuable aid of the association of ideas, an essential function of memory. In such ways a series of interesting and vital topics or centres of interest can be planned and vocabulary enlarged in a systematic way, with frequent oral revision to consolidate the ground already won. In considering the vocabulary to be introduced at any particular stage the teacher will obviously pay attention to the needs and interests of his students. On the other hand, limitation of active vocabulary demands a certain ruthlessness, since the very process of limitation is reminding us that we cannot teach everything at once, however necessary or desirable it may seem to be. In this limitation of vocabulary the teacher may be interested to refer to the essential vocabularies which have already been compiled by various experts in the field of semantics and are the foundation of the better text-books available.


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While the active vocabulary must be limited and systematically built up, with constant rehearsal of what has already been introduced, there is no harm in the student increasing his passive or "recognition" vocabulary at a rather faster rate. In any case the student living in an English environment will constantly be hearing and seeing English words over which the instructor has no control. Provided there is an active core of controlled vocabulary which has been thoroughly assimilated and can be used fluently and correctly, the more extensive vocabulary of recognition will be drawn into the controlled patterns without undue confusion. In the later stages, of course, every effort should be made to encourage and guide the student in enlarging his vocabulary and his feeling for shapely expression by reading widely and with discrimination. The reading in the very earliest stages will be limited to the words and sentences mastered orally.

It is evident that mere knowledge of individual words does not result in an ability to speak a language. Very often the student from overseas who has amassed a knowledge of single English words presents a greater problem to the teacher than the veriest beginner, just because the growth of his vocabulary has so far outpaced his, understanding of sentence structure. The structural pattern of a typical English sentence, the way in which individual words are fitted together to convey as exact a meaning as possible, is often surprisingly like and often disconcertingly unlike the sentence structure of the student's native language. So in this sphere as well the wise teacher will make use of a limited range of structural patterns in the early stages, seeking to establish each type by constant practice and revision and introducing new types in a controlled and systematic manner. For example, the earliest sentence patterns which must be learned are of the type "I am a ....... , he is a .......", "my name is ......., my address is .......", and so on. Then might come the very typical English sentence "I am putting my book on the table", subject, verb, direct object, adverbial phrase. We may note in passing how the negative and interrogative forms of the sentence entirely change the structural pattern and hence present frequent sources of confusion to the beginner. The teacher will find it interesting and illuminating to listen carefully to ordinary conversation and to read some colloquial English with a view to analysing the structural patterns involved. Such an analysis will be an invaluable aid to the process of teaching them systematically and organically.


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Conversation, which is sometimes given a whole period in time-tables, requires much thought and ingenuity on the part of the teacher if it is not to be desultory, boring and of little lasting value. Questions which are received in a numbed silence and answered only after a long and painful pause by one bright student can hardly be described as conversation. If questions are asked, they should be so framed as to elicit an immediate response from the majority of the students; this means that the teacher should be certain that the class have had ample practice in the vocabulary and speech patterns involved. When the students have once mastered the ordinary forms of questions, they should be encouraged to ask questions of the teacher and of each other. Topics of conversation might well be prepared by the students beforehand. Forewarned is forearmed, and the cut and thrust of conversation could thus be much more lively than it often is.

On the other hand, it should be remembered that the question presents a quite different sentence pattern from the ordinary statement and some teachers do not expect the student to use it in the early stages. Further, the question may elicit a brief one- or two-word answer, which is not always the best type of practice in the early stages. While the student's command of vocabulary and structure is still limited, oral practice and commentaries may be attempted on matters that are not intrinsically interesting, for example, an exchange of statements about a situation existing in the classroom or illustrated in a picture. It is likely that the student's satisfaction at his growing mastery over the spoken word will be sufficient to compensate for the apparently trivial subject matter.

As the student's command of English becomes more extensive, interesting subjects for conversation can be provided by wall pictures or by good illustrated magazines. The better students can be encouraged to discuss an interesting picture at some length, while even the weakest members of the class can contribute a sentence or two, even if it be only a repetition of something already said. The oral reproduction of simple stories and anecdotes told by the teacher is often a successful exercise, and many other subjects will suggest themselves to the teacher who gets to know the interests, mentality and occupations of the members of the class. Preparation by the students themselves of brief talks or lecturettes on everyday topics can be useful and stimulating; students can attempt them with success surprisingly early in the course.


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Dramatization in its various forms can be a useful teaching aid. In its most elementary form a dramatic method will be employed when the teacher demonstrates the meaning of such a sequence as "I will (or I'll) take, I am taking, I took my hat off the table" by appropriate actions and when the student gives a similar running commentary on his own actions. Incidentally, it is interesting to observe how often the doing of an action can distract the student from his natural nervousness in handling the language element.

At a more advanced stage the performance of everyday scenes from real life can be a most profitable and pleasurable activity, and there need be no fear that the students will consider such lessons childish. "Playing shops", to take but one example, with patient training in the correct and natural English required, and practical experience in the use of weights, measures and money can provide a stimulating and amusing lesson. Other possible situations are the purchase of a railway or theatre ticket, a visit to the doctor, or an interview for employment. In fact the good teacher may have to provide a variety of apparatus for topics that he wishes to introduce. A good deal of English can be learnt in the singing of well chosen songs, and singing can help to make the lesson varied and attractive. On the other hand, it should be borne in mind that the vocabulary and sentence structure of some song material is often complex and idiomatic to a degree.

Whatever the attitude of the students to written work, it is certain that some written work is a most valuable complement to the oral lessons as long as the teacher is careful to avoid the formal and artificial type of English exercise which is still too prevalent. The teacher who devises his own material along the lines already suggested will have no great difficulty in determining the most useful type of written work to accompany it. Probably the most useful form in the early stages is the committing to paper of the new vocabulary or new speech patterns introduced in the oral part of the lesson, and the students should be encouraged to memorise what they have noted. Short dictations of work already mastered orally can vary the lesson and are an excellent exercise from many points of view. The latter part of more advanced lessons could sometimes be devoted to free composition, the students writing on one of the topics dealt with earlier in the lesson. This work gives the instructor the opportunity of taking another group, or of giving individual help, especially to the weaker students.


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A lesson on letter writing is of practical use to many students, and practical instruction in the filling up of forms will often be gratefully received; to the earlier stages the teacher can devise his own form, so that it may be a useful exercise on the material he is teaching.

For practice in reading, apart from the material referred to earlier and devised by the teacher in the preliminary stages, there is useful material in some of the manuals and supplementary readers available, but they should be chosen with care. Another source of material is the reader originally devised for the older English pupil who is backward in reading; there are several of these readers on the market, containing interesting subject matter treated in simple English. The enterprising teacher who has given thought to an approach depending on a carefully controlled intake of vocabulary and structure patterns will no doubt be prepared for the further enterprise of composing reading material which takes account of his own systematic methods.

The more advanced students will welcome guidance in wider reading. Recommendations by the teacher of authors whose style is the best suited to the student's needs and stage of proficiency can be most valuable. The student's oral proficiency can be much improved by reading and study at the appropriate stage of such masters of simple yet idiomatic and realistic dialogue as Shaw, Galsworthy and Priestley, and of the best of the contemporary writers. The introduction of idioms at work in a dramatic context is much to be preferred to their presentation in abstract isolation, as they so often are in a manual. On the other hand, advanced students should be warned against the use, in conversation and writing, of inappropriate English culled from the classics that they may be studying for examination.

The cheapest and most easily obtainable of all visual aids is the blackboard. "Stick" men and the most rudimentary sketches and diagrams (to illustrate, for example, the notion of positive, comparative and superlative) can overcome many difficulties in comprehension in the early stages and can afford no little amusement. New words and new structure patterns are better remembered if they are written on the board or otherwise presented to the eye after being heard and spoken. Since learning a language is largely a matter of memorization in the earlier stages, every means of impressing new material on the student's memory must be used. The memories of ear, eye,


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speech and action must all be enlisted. The teacher should have the use of an episcope, a film-strip projector or even a cine-projector; with these aids the lesson can be much enlivened, and the picture or linguistic material on the screen can stimulate commentary or conversation and can provide useful material for written work. It has been noticed that the tension which often inhibits fluency in class is much relaxed when students are fixing their attention on a screen and are speaking in the dark.

The tape-recorder is a most valuable aid in learning a foreign language, and its use is rapidly developing in this country. For training in pronunciation and, equally important, in intonation, it can be invaluable and can bring home to a student the mistakes indicated by the teacher in a way that is most convincing. It is a mistake, however, to allow students to use tape-recorders unsupervised before they have acquired good speech habits. At a later stage the recorder can take over from the teacher some of the drudgery of repetition for memorization, and can be used by students for practice when the teacher is engaged with other groups. The time is coming when systematic courses built up on text-book, filmstrip projector, and tape-recorder or records will be more easily available. When they have been tried, in America, Russia, France, and increasingly in this country, the progress of the students in the early stages of learning a foreign language has been surprisingly rapid. Meanwhile the principles on which these aids are based can inspire the teacher even when he has not all the equipment at his disposal. The use of the twin-track tape recorder has been explained and advocated in the penultimate paragraph of the preceding chapter.

The record-player is a useful aid for students who wish to do extra work alone, or for accustoming the students to a new English voice. In a homogeneous class it can be used for following a graded course, but is no substitute for the friendly and resourceful teacher.

At this point it is interesting to record the conclusions on audio-visual, aural and visual aids generally reached by the members of a seminar on the teaching of Modern Languages held in London under the auspices of the Council of Europe in March, 1962, and attended by delegates from fifteen European countries. They considered that these aids do not replace the teacher but may well make it possible for him to enrich the material of his courses and may lead him to modify his technique


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of teaching. It is most desirable that teachers should find out all they can about the aids and their possible uses, and local and central authorities should make a point of seeing that teachers can get the information that they need. Many of the aids are evidently very well suited for use with adults learning a foreign language, especially perhaps television transmissions and radio broadcasts if they can be linked with the work of organized classes. Such transmissions, broadcasts and twin-track tape recorders would do much to overcome what is otherwise an almost inevitable handicap to work in evening courses, namely, the comparative infrequency of lessons with the teacher.

Although a few references to more advanced work have already been made, much of what has been suggested so far is concerned mainly with the earliest stages. As the students make progress certain difficulties become less important, but other considerations need to be borne in mind. The need for guidance by the teacher in the choice of books to be read by the student has already been mentioned. A substantial number of more advanced students study for examinations in English, and there is a tendency to concentrate on book work at the expense of oral practice; this tendency should be resisted, if only because incisive and progressive oral work can do much to improve the student's fluency and command of idiom in writing. It is sometimes taken for granted that, once a student can understand every-day words and sentences, further comprehension of English can safely be left to wider reading and the use of a dictionary. In fact, however, many students need help from the teacher in comprehending passages of English: even when the words and idioms are known, the thoughts expressed may need discussion and elucidation because they are foreign to the student's own modes of thought.

It is at the advanced stages, when the students have achieved a reasonable mastery of colloquial English, that some study by the student of the structure of the language may be profitable and helpful, but even so a course of grammar should not be followed at the expense of practice in using the language. Nevertheless, specific instruction should be given in the use of English idioms, many of which defy grammatical explanation. Stress on meaning in context, which lies at the heart of all significance in language, can be and is often a vital part of the instruction at the advanced stage. Play reading can be of great help here and can afford a mine of examples in action. The caution required in teaching grammar is also needed in allotting


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time to a study of phonetics, which, although valuable to the teachers, and useful to explain difficulties in pronunciation, can lead to a great waste of precious time if the students are expected to transcribe passages into phonetic scripts, or read passages written in it. The writing of coherent and lucid English in free composition or essays is a skill, or perhaps an art, that cannot be acquired without much help from the teacher. Time spent on composing, with the class and on the blackboard, a paragraph or short composition on a given topic is time well spent indeed: many of the students' mistakes or clumsy expressions can be dealt with before they are firmly established by being committed to paper. The suggestions offered by the more able students can encourage and enlighten the others. Careful correction by the teacher of the written work and subsequent discussion with the class of the more important points should complete the process.

In conclusion, it might be well to summarize briefly the principles of language teaching that are explicitly formulated or are implicit in what has gone before. In the early stages oral work should precede reading and writing, and should accompany them throughout the course. Constant drill on limited vocabulary in speech patterns is essential. The student should hear the normal intonation and rhythm of the language from the start. At all stages intuitive learning through ever widening listening and reading should accompany the more restricted active use. Speech patterns to be drilled should be used as meaningful communication and not as an empty linguistic exercise. The text-book should be an aid and not the master in the classroom, and teachers should prepare and grade their lessons to suit the students. Translation from the mother-tongue into the foreign language is best avoided until a later stage. Written work should consist of learning to write what has been mastered orally and of practice in using it in composition of increasing individuality. The memorization of new material, where possible in playlets and scenes, can give a heartening sense of mastery and can encourage fluency. It is ironical that the ancient adage "Practice makes perfect" should be the essence distilled by the latest research on language learning and should be the simple idea behind the most elaborate electronic language laboratory.


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Bibliography

The following list of books may be found helpful; it does not pretend to be exhaustive, nor does the omission of any book imply that it is inferior to those included.

A Books about principles and practice of teaching English as a second language:

Language Pamphlet No. 26 Ministry of Education H.M.S.O. 1954
Problems and Principles Abercrombie, D. Longmans 1956
Teaching and Learning English as a Foreign Language Fries, C. C. Ann Arbor Press 1945
Teaching English Frisby, A. W. Longmans 1957
English as a Foreign Language Gatenby, E. V. Longmans 1944
The Teaching of English as a Foreign Language Gurrey, P. Longmans 1955
The Art of Teaching English as a Living Language Morris, I. Macmillan 1954
The Teaching of Oral English Palmer, Harold E. Longmans 1940
The Teaching of English Palmer, Harold E. Murray 1930
The Teaching of English (Studies in Communications - 3) Quirk, R. and Smith, A. H. (Eds.) Secker & Warburg 1959

B Books which provide some background knowledge of the countries or areas from which many immigrants come:

The Living Commonwealth Bradley, Kenneth (Ed.) Hutchinson 1961
Jamaica Henriques, F. Macgibbon & Kee 1957
My Mother who Fathered me (a study of community life in Jamaica) Clarke, Edith Allen & Unwin 1957
With a Carib Eye (an account of life in the islands of the Caribbean) Mittelholzer, E. Secker & Warburg 1958


[page 34]

Dark Strangers (a study of West Indian Immigrants in Brixton) Patterson, Sheila Tavistock 1963
They seek a Living (a study of West Indian Immigrants in the United Kingdom) Egginton, Joyce Hutchinson 1957
India: Mirage and Reality Schmid, Peter Harrap 1961
The Heart of India Campbell, A. Constable 1958
The Pakistani Way of Life Qureshi, I. H. Heinemann 1956
How People Live in East Pakistan Johnson, B. L. C. Educ. Supply Association 1961
Young Pakistan Khan, A. M. and Stark, H. S. O.U.P. 1951
West African City (a study of tribal life in Freetown) Banton, Michael O.U.P. 1957
Cyprus Luke, Sir Harry Harrap 1957