UK

JK Rowling Delivers Lesson To Daily Mail’s Andrew Pierce On Kids Who Speak English As Foreign Language

Author didn't think much of columnist's argument.

04/09/2017 17:01 BST | Updated 04/09/2017 17:06 BST

World famous author (and former English teacher) JK Rowling has delivered her own lesson to a Daily Mail columnist, who claimed schools are under a “strain” because of children who speak English as a foreign language.

Pro-Brexit Andrew Pierce tweeted that 1.3 million children “do not speak English as a first language, underlining strain immigration puts on schools”.

JK Rowling, who taught English as a foreign language in Portugal before finding fame with Harry Potter, said speaking English as a second or third language didn’t actually mean children were’t fluent in it.

Rowling agreed with one teacher who pointed out that those who don’t speak English as a first language often have a stronger grasp of it because they “learn from the roots up”.

Many pointed out that children who did not learn English as a mother tongue could, in fact, speak it better.

Sam Freedman, executive director of Teach First, went a step further. He pointed out that children with English As An Additional Language (EAL) in London did better at maths and English in GCSEs last year - than those for whom English is their first language.

The answer for Freedman, was pretty straightforward:

The truth may lie in a a 2016 report by the Education Policy Institute.

It found EAL pupils “make significant strides” throughout their teaching and they are less affected by poverty, meaning they “perform consistently better than others and the difference between the two groups widens as they become more acutely disadvantaged”.

It noted EAL children’s progress during Key Stage 4 - which ends with GCSE exams - was equivalent to advancing half a grade in each subject.

The reported noted they were outperforming native English speakers in GCSEs and called them a “are a success story in educational progress and performance”.