Primary school where 850 pupils speak 41 different languages

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London, Mar 11 (UNI) Ever heard of a school where students speak 41 different languages? Well, it does does exist in London.

Children at The Newbury Park Primary School in Redbridge, East London, learn key phrases in more than 41 languages, all spoken fluently by one or more pupils.

They can say something in everything from Afrikaans to Hebrew, Japanese to Norwegian. Teachers said Newbury Park's ''language of the month'' programme has also helped tackle the sense of alienation felt by newcomers to the school.

In little more than a decade, the proportion of pupils at the school who do not speak English at home has doubled to 80 per cent.

The biggest ethnic group are Tamils who have fled the civil war in Sri Lanka.

''You have 250 Tamil children in the school. It is just polite to greet them in their own language and recognise their culture,'' said teacher Joe Debono, who runs the language scheme.

''And it is a way of celebrating the ethnic diversity of the school and not seeing it as a problem,'' she added.

Languages covered under the programme and spoken by at least one pupil include Spanish, Swahili and dialects originating in India and Africa, Ms Joe informed.

Some of the pupils already speak more than one language. Many came to Britain via other European countries including Norway, France and Germany, adding to the diversity of the ''language of the month'' list, she added.

Under the scheme, a child is selected every month to present lessons in their native tongue. Mr Debono researches the language with the pupil's parents and films the child speaking it.

This can then be used in every class in the 850-pupil school, which accepts children aged four to 11.

''It gives the children a lot of self-esteem and they are quite proud they've done it,'' the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.


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