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UK school that speaks Bengali, Tamil, Punjabi

world Updated: Jun 09, 2012 22:51 IST

PTI
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A British primary school is virtually a league of nations as the students speak an astonishing 31 different languages, including Bengali, Sylheti, Tamil, Punjabi, Urdu and Gujarati besides English.

The 414 students at the English Martyrs’ Catholic School in Birmingham speak an incredible 31 languages between them and the pupils who speak English as their first language are in a tiny minority, the Daily Mail reported.

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, the Mail said.

Other languages spoken at the school are Afrikaans, Arabic, Czech, Dutch, Gaelic, Hindko, Jamaican Patois, Kachi, Lingala, Mirpuri, Nepalese, Pashto, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Somali, Spanish, Sudanese, Swiss French and Yoruba.

Despite being a Catholic school, the majority of pupils at English Martyrs hail from a Pakistani background, with Urdu/Mirpuri the most common dialect spoken by youngsters in the home.

Latest government figures show pupils who speak English as their first language are now in the minority at more than a quarter of Birmingham schools.

Department for Education records showed a majority of students at 117 of the city’s 430 primary and secondary schools listed a different language as their mother tongue.