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KESS - LANGUAGE IN EDUCATION

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Parliament Buildings

Stormont

BT4 3XX

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1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome and Opening Remarks

1.45pm - Dr Sharon Jones (Stranmillis University College) - Languages in Primary Schools in Northern Ireland

The current deficit in skills in modern languages is economically detrimental (Foreman-Peck and Wang, 2013), not least to the growth of the export base (Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, 2014). Evidence suggests that learning a modern language should begin at primary school (Lenneberg, 1967; Jones and Coffey, 2006) as this increases self-esteem, enthusiasm, and positive attitudes to later learning (Hawkins, 1974, 1999; DfES, 2002; Jones and Coffey, 2013). As Northern Ireland’s primary schools become increasingly multicultural (Kernaghan, 2015), intercultural education facilitated by modern language learning is increasingly relevant (Richardson and Gallagher, 2011; Purdy and Ferguson, 2012; Jones, 2015), addressing racial prejudice early (Sharpe, 2001, p. 35). While primary school children in Scotland and England will learn at least one additional language, Northern Ireland has “the shortest period of compulsory foreign language learning in Europe” (British Council, 2015). This presentation draws on recent research into current practice and teacher and pupil views in primary schools across Northern Ireland (Jones et al, 2016), to conclude that foreign language learning should be made a statutory part of the Northern Ireland Curriculum, thus affording the opportunities of modern language learning to our young people, and its economic and cultural benefits to our region.

2.05pm - Mr Ian Collen (QUB) - Transition from Primary Language Programmes to Post-Primary Language Provision

As in England, entries for GCSE and A-level languages in Northern Ireland have declined annually since 2004 (CCEA/JCQ). To redress this decline, languages are now compulsory from Primary 5 to Primary 7 in England. In Scotland, two languages will be compulsory at primary level from 2020. This has led to a focus in educational research on transition in modern languages (Chambers, 2014; Courtney, 2014). In Northern Ireland, there is a patchwork of schools offering various modern languages at primary level (Purdy, Siberry & Beale, 2010), but recent research (Collen, McKendry & Henderson, 2016) indicates that: primary pupils perceive modern languages to have a low status; there is no evidence of effective transition in modern languages between primary and post-primary schools; and, there is a need to make language learning statutory at primary level, if our pupils are to be afforded the same opportunities as pupils in England and Scotland, and be prepared to compete in a globalised employment market.

This presentation draws on recent research into models of delivery of primary languages, taking cognisance of the need for effective transition to post-primary education, and suggests ways in which statutory modern languages should be introduced in Northern Ireland.

2.25pm - Prof Kieron Sheehy (OU) - Inclusive Practice through Keyword Signing – Addressing barriers to accessible classrooms

This presentation sets out evidence that having an accessible communicative environment is the core of inclusive educational practice, facilitating positive outcomes for diverse groups of learners (Sheehy et al. 2009). One effective communicate approach is keyword signing (KWS), which typically samples the manual signs of a country’s Deaf community. For example, British Sign Language is the basis of the Makaton vocabulary used in Northern Ireland. KWS signs accompany only the key word(s) in spoken sentences and so provides sign-supported communication, rather than a sign language. There is extensive evidence of the educational and social benefits to support using KWS. It has also been seen as a potential way to give some children a voice within the criminal justice and safeguarding system (Bunting et al. 2015), addressing the mental health needs of people with learning difficulties (Devine & Taggart 2008) and a professional training need for school staff (McConkey & Abbott 2011). However, there are significant barriers which impede its use in schools and communities. This presentation illustrates the nature of these barriers through research undertaken to develop KWS Signalong Indonesia (Sheehy & Budiyanto 2014). It discusses how these difficult barriers could be tackled and the challenges this presents for policy makers with an inclusive agenda.

2.45pm – Discussion

3.15pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks

3.20pm – Networking and Refreshments

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Long Gallery

Parliament Buildings

Stormont

BT4 3XX

United Kingdom

View Map

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