16 DECEMBER 2015

First Language English and English as a Second Language

First Language English and English as a Second Language

Initially we need to dispel the myth that first language English is ‘better’ than English as a second lanuage: they serve different purposes. First language English is for native English speakers wishing to master their mother tongue and emphasises literature and the appreciation, analysis and response to wide ranging genres of fiction and non-fiction texts. Second language English is for non-native speakers wishing to master English in an academic or school environment and focuses on effective use of English, building a wide range of vocabulary, and the skills necessary to communicate effectively through speaking, listening, reading and writing.

We should next learn to think of first language English as ‘Mother Tongue English’ and English as a second language as ‘Academic’ or Global English: they require different teaching strategies, are aimed at different groups of learners, but the ultimate outcome of both approaches is competence in English.

Primary learners wishing to access first language English materials at stage one are expected to be able speak English fluently and possess simple reading and writing skills. Learners taking stage one Global English are not expected to have fluency in English, but should be able to understand simple commands, and have some skills in letter and word recognition and formation.

Learners completing the Mother Tongue English course will develop a good understanding of, and be able to respond to a wide range of different types of texts, and gain an appreciation of the major writers of English fiction.

Learners completing the Global or ‘Academic’ English course will develop a good understanding of, and be able to respond in correctly structured English to a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts, and will develop the vocabulary and skills to access and respond to the major academic or school subjects.

Finally remember an A is an A no matter what the subject!

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