Exmouth primary pupils become Devon's first school interpreters

PUBLISHED: 13:14 17 November 2008 | UPDATED: 10:01 10 June 2010

SIX pupils at an Exmouth primary school have become Devon's first ever young interpreters in a move to welcome children from other countries to their school.

SIX pupils at an Exmouth primary school have become Devon's first ever young interpreters in a move to welcome children from other countries to their school.

The pupils from the Beacon Primary School will next week have their new-found skills recognised at an award ceremony.

They have completed a course run by Devon County Council's English as an additional language service - and have learned skills to welcome new bilingual children and their families to the school.

Some of the children do not speak a second language but have learned how to use gestures and visuals to communicate with other children who are new to English.

The six pupils and their languages are: Alisha Burns aged 10, English, Bartek Nelkowski, nine, Polish and English, Natalya Plachecka, 10, Polish and English, Angela Roxas,10, Tagalog and English, Helenna Walsh,10, English and Martyn Zorys, nine, Lithuanian and English.

The young interpreters are ready to try out their new skills.

Alisha Burns said: "I feel very excited about being selected and can't wait to do it."

Helenna Walsh said: "I am looking forward to looking after any new children, especially those who don't speak any English. I like being helpful. I'm really proud that I was chosen."

Bartek Nelkowski said: "I'm very excited and glad to be able to help other children."

Angela Roxas added: "I want to help children from other countries. It's really important because I know how it feels to come to another country."

Kate O'Neill from Devon's EAL service said: "The children were chosen because of their ability to be empathetic, caring and responsible towards others, as well as having good communication skills and being good role models.

"It was a great honour to be selected and all the children were keen to be involved. We hope this will help all the children in the school to view bilingualism more positively.

EAL coordinator Di Devon said: "Becoming a young interpreter has helped the bilingual children feel proud of their skills and their culture and it's something very practical and necessary for schools who have increasing amounts of children with English as an additional language but which cannot communicate their welcome.

"The new young Interpreters will now be able to buddy and support new bilingual children and interpret for new bilingual families when they first arrive at the school."

Devon County Council's deputy leader John Smith welcomed the new project.

"This is a new service we are providing for schools through Devon County Council and one that is increasingly necessary as we welcome more families to our schools from across the world.

"It is easy for new children with English as a second language to feel lost or alone in a new school where they don't understand the language -despite the best efforts of the staff and their classmates.

"This is an excellent project which I hope other Devon schools will take up.

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