A UK school that teaches its kids in 40 languages

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London, Mar.10 : Newbury Park Primary School in Redbridge, north-east London, has acquired a reputation of sorts.

Here, its 850 pupils reportedly learn phrases in 40 languages by the time they transfer to secondary school.

According to The Independent, the school has adopted a policy of teaching each language spoken by the 40 ethnic groups among its pupils.

Joe Debono, who runs the "language of the month" programme, was quoted by the paper as saying that this scheme has tangible benefits, as it can help children who may be refugees to overcome the sense of alienation they might feel in a new school.

It may also encourage pupils to study in more depth one of the languages they have encountered at Newbury Park when they transfer to secondary school, where language learning is compulsory for 11 to 14-year-olds, he added.

Debono says he selects a child every month to present lessons in their native tongue. He researches the language with their parents and films a video of the child talking their own language that can then be used in every class in the school.

In introducing the new language of the month, every class starts by greeting each other in the language to be learnt. In consultation with the pupils, Debono draws up a list of a dozen or so phrases they feel it would be useful to learn in each language. The pupils then go on to recite them.

The pupils go on to play games to further their knowledge of the language, with teachers placing cards with words on their heads. They have to guess what the words are by asking their pupils questions. The pupils then shout out "yes" or "no" in the language of the month.

This month, it is the turn of seven-year-old Aneeka Bhattarai, whose family is from Nepal, to be the school's latest foreign language teacher.

Under new government regulations, every primary school will have to ensure that all its pupils start learning a language from the age of seven by 2010.

Newbury Park's pioneering project has aroused interest among teachers from other schools in ethnically diverse areas who have visited it to see if they might be able to implement a similar project in their own schools.

The scheme has also won international acclaim, with visits from Finnish and Danish schools and a twinning project with a school in Barcelona, and has helped to boost community involvement in the school, particularly among parents who might otherwise have been bashful about becoming involved with their children's education because of their own poor English.

The school has also doubled in size in the past six years as the borough of Redbridge plays host to thousands of new immigrants. The biggest ethnic group at the school are Tamils who have fled the civil war in their homeland, Sri Lanka.

The school is considering the introduction of Latin as another language of the month.

Newbury Park's language lessons

1. Albanian

2. Arabic

3. Bengali

4. Cantonese

5. Catalan

6. Dari

7. Finnish

8. French

9. German

10. Greek

11. Gujarati

12. Hebrew

13. Hindi

14. Italian

15. Japanese

16. Kannada (Indian dialect)

17. Lingala

(a Bantulanguage from Congo)

18. Lithuanian

19. Mandarin

20. Mauritian

21. Creole

22. Nepali

23. Norwegian

24. Polish

25. Portuguese

26. Punjabi

27. Romanian

28. Russian

29. Sinhala

30. Slovak

31. Somali

32. Spanish

33. Swahili

34. Tagalog

35. Tamil

36. Thai

37. Turkish

38. Twi

39. Urdu

40. Yoruba

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