A different language is a different vision of life. – Federico Fellini

‘Today, more of the world’s population is bilingual or multilingual than monolingual. In addition to facilitating cross-cultural communication, this trend also positively affects cognitive abilities. Researchers have shown that the bilingual brain can have better attention and task-switching capacities than the monolingual brain, thanks to its developed ability to inhibit one language while using another. In addition, bilingualism has positive effects at both ends of the age spectrum: Bilingual children as young as seven months can better adjust to environmental changes, while bilingual seniors can experience less cognitive decline.’ (V. Marian Ph.D., A. Shook)

Context

At Bromsgrove, our overarching aim is to produce happy, creative moral citizens through an enlightened, disciplined and broad education. We believe that in order to achieve this, our students should benefit from excellent instruction in English, whilst also developing their mother tongue competences.
English is the principal language of instruction at Bromsgrove. All lessons, except Thai, Mandarin and Spanish, are conducted in English. However, there may be exceptions. We are mindful of the value of connections between languages and encourage both teachers and students to link English to students’ mother tongues, if this will lead to a deeper and broader understanding of a concept.
As a British curriculum school with a large population of second language learners, we firmly believe that all of our teachers are language teachers. Our teachers are fully trained and equipped to deal with the needs of students whose first language is not English, so students are supported in their language acquisition and partake in meaningful exchanges both in and outside the classroom.

In practice

We respect that many of our students come from culturally diverse backgrounds, whose primary language may not be English. As part of our aim of creating globally minded citizens, we therefore permit students to use their mother tongue when they are not in lessons, as long as this does not lead to the exclusion of other students. By doing this, we encourage our students to celebrate their diverse language knowledge and learn from each other, not only in a classroom environment.
One exception to this is in the school canteen, where we will expect students and adults to communicate in English whilst they are eating and interacting with each other.
We also expect all adults at Bromsgrove to encourage students to use English, by modelling this in their daily interactions. This also includes all support staff, unless they are working in a situation where every person present speaks their mother tongue.
Given the profile of our learners, it is expected that the majority of student talk in lessons will take place in English. Occasionally, a teacher may make a personalised judgment that mother tongue is the appropriate medium for discussion and will not exclude others; however, this should be the exception rather than the rule.