The School Where Pupils Speak 44 Languages

For a child with a passion for languages, you could say it’s the ideal learning environment. A primary school in Surrey is believed to have claimed the record for the largest number of foreign languages – with an incredible 44 spoken by its pupils. The list includes Afrikaans, Aramaic, Filipino, Ga, Kikuyu, Kissii, Kannada, Telugu, Yoruba and Zulu. And of the seven continents, all but Antarctica is represented.

Of the 477 youngsters on the roll at St Matthew’s in Redhill, 178 do not have English as their mother tongue. Head teacher Janet Lightfoot said:

‘Many people see this as a difficulty but we celebrate our differences. ‘It makes the school varied and special.’

The variety of languages at the school is such that staff have been banned from using slang terms like ‘mufti’ or ‘inset’ incase they confuse pupils.
Mrs Lightfoot added: ‘We have to be careful with words that the children don’t recognise, like ‘mufti day’ and ‘inset day’, by calling them ‘non-uniform day’ and ‘teacher training day’.

The 40-year-old Church of England school has always educated a large proportion of non-English children. Those who do not speak English are assigned an English speaking ‘buddy’ and are given individual lessons

Taken from The Daily Mail: 21.07.11