Monday, 30 March 2009

My colleague Pete Thurlow sent me this article from the Yorkshire Evening Post, Beeston section on Saturday....

"IT WAS a heartwarming ceremony which helped secure a bright future for Leeds's famous cosmopolitan culture. And the event, at South Leeds Learning Centre, Beeston, marked the determination of 42 children to embrace the language and way of life in their adopted city.All the young people have made great strides in their efforts to speak, read, write and understand English since arriving from their native nations.They are taking part in the English as an Additional Language scheme, the Education Leeds course which offers new arrivals a helping hand to find their feet in a foreign land.As the number of countries from which immigrants travel to Britain has grown, so has the debate over the need for people settling here to learn English.To congratulate the pupils, tutors laid on yesterday's special presentation morning, at which the youngsters were handed a certificate and then given the keys to the games consoles.They queued up to play a Nintendo Wii on a huge, cinema-style screen, while others belted out Hannah Montana and High School Musical favourites on a hi-tech karaoke machine.

Kerry Platts, a study support mentor, said: "This is about thanking them for their hard work and marking their achievements."They are all at different stages of learning, but all have been really committed."Some had very little English when they arrived, and they are from many different countries, but you only have to listen to the chatter to hear how well they're doing." Despite the young friends being from nations as far apart as France and Malaysia, with many more in between, the chatter was all in English. Some had even picked up the beginnings of what will blossom into a broad south Leeds accent.

Lisa Koranteng, of Ingram Road Primary School, in Holbeck, said she wanted to use her English to become a pop star.The eight-year-old said: "It helped me make friends. Now I want to sing like Hannah Montana." Chris Walton, Lisa's deputy headteacher, said: "Four children come from our school, it is great for their reading skills and confidence. It is an excellent programme."

This is yet another brilliant initiative and the impact is just incredible. Thanks to everyone involved.

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