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UK school has students speaking in 31 languages

india Updated: Jun 08, 2012 12:40 IST

A primary school in England has pupils who speak 31 different languages between them. The English Martyrs' Catholic School in Birmingham has 414 pupils speaking in their mother tongue, and children at the school who speak English as their first language are in a tiny minority.

The other languages include Lingala and Yoruba, both spoken in parts of Africa, Mirpuri and Hindko, both from Pakistan, two forms of Bengali, Czech and Sudanese, the Daily Mail reported.

Despite the challenges facing teachers, the diversity appears to have improved results at the school in Sparkhill.

New head Evelyn Harper attributes top SATs scores to the value many of the pupils' home cultures place on learning.

Last year 91 per cent of pupils achieved the benchmark level four or above in English, and 89 per cent in Maths.

The majority of pupils come from a Pakistani background and the most common first languages spoken are Urdu and Mirpuri.

In order to deal with the range of languages spoken, teachers are all trained to teach English as an additional language.

The school sometimes uses translators, as well as a buddy system where new students are paired with one already at the school who has the same mother tongue and can help them to start picking up English words.

Languages spoken at the school are: Afrikaans, Arabic (Iraqi), Arabic (Lingala), Arabic (Sudanese), Arabic (Yemeni), Bengali (Bangla), Bengali (Sylheti), Czech, Dutch, English, Gaelic, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Hindko, Jamaican Patois, Kachi, Lingala, Mirpuri, Nepalese, Pashto, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Somali, Spanish, Sudanese, Swiss French, Tamil, Urdu and Yoruba.

Figures obtained by the Birmingham Mail revealed that more than 120 languages spoken across the city's schools.