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Original Message
Forum Muslim Schools 
Topic Monolingualism vs Bilingualism 
Author Iftikhar 
Date Created 18/05/2004 23:26:17 
Message Established 1981
London School of Islamics
An Educational Trust
63 Margery Park Road London E7 9LD
Email: info@londonschoolofislamics.org.uk
Tel/Fax: 0208 555 2733 / 07817 112 667

Monolingualism vs Bilingualism

British society is no longer monolingual; it is multilingual with at least 200 languages spoken by its citizens. Most of the world is bilingual. All those who are Monolingual are in the minority. There are more than 500,000 bilingual pupils in the school population. State schools are very unwelcoming and intimidating institutions for those with less or no English. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, all children must be allowed to speak their own language and practice their own religion and culture. Schools must recognize bilingualism as positive learning resource. Bilingualism should be explicitly valued as a special achievement. The opportunity to use first language will help development in English. Language is a very important symbol of cultural identity and schools should ensure that they value the linguistic diversity.

According to Professor Colin Baker of the University of Wales, the advantages of bilingualism have been identified by research projects around the world. Bilingual children have more fluent, flexible and creative thinking. They can communicate more naturally and expressively, maintaining a finer texture of relationships with parents and grandparents, as well as with the local and wider communities in which they live. They gain the benefits of two sets of literatures, traditions, ideas, ways of thinking and behaving. They can act as a bridge between people of different colours, creeds and cultures. With two languages come a wider cultural experience, greater tolerance of differences and less racism. As barriers to movement between countries are taken down, the earning power of bilinguals rises. Further advantages include raised self-esteem, increased achievement, and greater proficiency with other languages.

Young children benefit from learning to write in more than one language at the same time, according to a research study at London University’s Institute of Education. Learning to read in three languages at the age of five is very common practice in Britain today, according to Watford to Watford-based Ph.D. study, and for the children this result s in social, emotional and cognitive advantages. Tri-lingual 11 years old in Hackney outperforms monolinguals in reading tests. Children attending mother tongue classes have a much higher probability of obtaining grades A. They have a positive sense of identity. Promoting the teaching of mother tongues fosters a positive sense of hybrid identity among children. A study in Leicester found that bilingualism improved a child’s overall educational performance by instilling a more suitable use of language and better communication skills. Bilingualism is an asset in the long run. Multilingualism is wholly positive thing in any child’s life. It is best to start teaching a child a second language from birth. Studies carried out last year, concluded that children who speak two languages do better at school than those who speak only one. Such children display greater comprehension when reading English. They tend to be in higher ability groups; because the skills they acquire and develop in their language use is transferred to other subjects. Biculturalism and bilingualism are increasingly becoming the norm of US society and are also being recognized as part of British cultural diversity. Trilingual children are doing better at school than monolingual peers, according to Dr. Raymonde Sneddon of University of East London. DFEE and the LEAs should make sure that community-languages classes are given resources and support. The price of ignoring children’s bilingualism is educational failure and social exclusion.

Those results support the Government’s aim of introducing more languages learning into primary schools. Young children are very capable of learning different writing systems and this is an excellent age at which to find out how language works. A study in Watford primary schools found that all Pakistani children learnt to read in English, in Urdu and in classical Arabic (the language of the Quran). In Pakistan

Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim Community schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models. The number of Muslim schools is on the increase but majority of Muslim children are in state schools and they are not in a position to educate bilingual children. There are hundreds of state schools where Muslim pupils are in majority, in my opinion all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools, under the management of Muslim educational Trusts or Charities. This demand is in accordance with the law of the land because there are state schools and LEAs under the control of private companies.
Iftikhar Ahmad

Topic Re: Monolingualism vs Bilingualism 
Author Glenn 
Date Created 19/05/2004 09:50:21 
Message I don't know how you got my email address (which is a work email), however i take great offence to being sent this junk spam email by you which only serves to p**s people of to what seems to be your 'mission in life'. If you don't like how the system is here (and many of us don't) then you have the option to go to where you believe it would be better for you and your family..........namely to a muslim country. We all have to put up with things that are not right for us, including the education system for non muslim children. so stop playing the race card to get what you want in this country and leave if you don't like it. no one is forcing you to stay. 
Topic Re: Monolingualism vs Bilingualism 
Author James Watchman 
Date Created 16/06/2004 10:13:52 
Message I agree with Glen's opinion on the last paragraph of Iftikhar's text, if not the tone.

Muslim Community Schools are devisive and rightly or wrongly give the idea that Muslims have no real wish to integrate into general British society.

In addition to this i think the last paragraph is rather belittling to the work of local LEA's work with bilingual children and moreso to the support workers who are already providing excellent bilingual Muslim role models.

I do nonetheless agree in general with Iftikhar's analysis of the benefits of bilingualism - I think in part those benfits also come from a sense of biculturalism which would be lost ina purely Muislim school. 
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