A couple of weeks ago I wrote a slightly tongue in cheek post that mentioned my third year class H3P (mostly 14 year olds). The post referred to how they sit down the back of the classroom, seemingly trying to get as far away as possible from me, which in the Covid classroom is, in some ways, quite welcome.
But H3P deserve a mention today for a completely different reason. They are just over two years into their bilingual education. About 70% of all their timetabled lessons are taught not in their native Dutch, but in English. We work hard at school with our classes to break through the tendency pupils have to slip out of English and back into Dutch. Being a native speaker of English my own use of English is 100%, but even with that sort of input, some classes have to be pushed, cajoled and bullied into full participation.
Today during my lesson with H3P at the end of the afternoon I had to pop out of the room to go to the copy machine. On returning to the art department I entered the corridor, the door was open and from the far end of the corridor I could already hear the class. They can be a rowdy and chaotic bunch, especially when they think that I am not looking! I crept up to the doorway to have a listen to hear what all the noise was about before entering the room.
The class seemed to be shouting and arguing with each other. Nothing too heavy, it was all good humoured. I listened on. It was fascinating to hear my group of fourteen year old Dutch children arguing with each other in English, shouting to each other in English, joking in English.
Two years ago I traveled to England with the very same children. A trip that we use to try and help the children over the psychological barrier of daring to speak their first English words and broken sentences. And now, two years on, the same group is arguing amongst themselves in English. I stood outside for a while, it was fantastic to hear!