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Text from Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Text from Brick Lane by Monica Ali

The right to learn English

Unblocking stalled progress in English and opening opportunities for young writers

Migrants should learn English. I agree. It is a right to learn the local language. Proficiency in it gives access to participation in the society. Not being able to communicate in a local language makes us powerless and isolated.

Also native English speaking pupils can have their entire educational achievement stalled by poor English language development and problems with reading and writing. Native language is first and foremost a tool for thinking and self-expression. It is at the heart of learning.  

Contemporary life requires sophisticated literacy skills. Children from any background may struggle to develop them. All children have the right to become competent writers in the language of their society.

English is a set of skills in a context

Often we think of English as an "academic subject". I suggest it would be more helpful to think of it as a skills subject that is learned in a social context. Literacy skills can get stuck in a way that we do not see in knowledge subjects. Pupils lose faith in their ability to learn. Teachers become frustrated. Joy of writing flies to some other planet.

Are you passionate about developing learning in English? Do you wonder how to unblock learning for pupils who seem to make no progress in writing? Ask what I've got in mind. 

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