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Newly released figures from the Department for Education show that 43.8% of teenagers who speak English as an additional language achieved strong passes in their GCSE English results.
In comparison, just 43.2% of native English speaking children achieved the same 5-9 grades in the subject (equivalent to A* to C under the old grading system) during last summer’s GCSE exams.
In comparison to the previous year, children who speak English as an additional language have improved by 0.5%, whilst results for native English-speaking children have dropped off by 0.2%.
Responding to the astonishing new figures, Thomas Bak, a cognitive neuroscientist who specialises in multilingualism at Edinburgh University, told The Times:
“This might seem surprising, as it goes against the widespread belief that there is a competition for space in the brain and learning other languages damages English and leaves no space for maths or other subjects”
“Modern research shows exactly the opposite. Learning other languages not only improves attention and the ability to take other people’s perspective: it also leads to a better understanding of one’s own language.”
Given that debate around immigration and the ability of immigrants to speak English has raged since the Brexit referendum, many were quick to point out the irony of the new results:
Sorry, but if the English can't be bothered to learn English then they shouldn't be here pic.twitter.com/jzSs82e3H0
— Michael Deacon (@MichaelPDeacon) February 7, 2020
BUT ITS ARE LANGUAGE
— Goo goo ga joob (@No__nononono_) February 7, 2020
Bloody immigrants, coming over here and learning our language.
— Future migrant (@robinkellett) February 7, 2020
Hilarious. Their parents are probably the ones shouting 'Speak English ' at foreigners.
— Ax (@axyl2010) February 6, 2020
The news come just days after images of a racist, and ironically grammatically erroneous, poster demanding that people living in a council tower block in Norwich should ‘speak only English’ went viral across the country.
Someone I follow just shared this photo of a sign he saw attached to a front door in a block in Norwich.
Brexit has encouraged and emboldened these people. It will get worse.
Do whatever you can to support immigrants who face this shit. We all need to stand strong against it. pic.twitter.com/9IbB3ztOkO
— Simon Price (@simon_price01) February 1, 2020
The racist poster was pinned to fire doors on every floor of the block, and stated:
“As we finally have our great country back we feel there is one rule to that [sic] needs to be made clear to Winchester Tower residents.
“We do not tolerate people speaking other languages than English [sic] in the flats.”
“We are now our own country again and the Queens [sic] English is the spoken tongue here.”
“If you do want to speak whatever is the mother tongue of the country you came from then we suggest you return to that place and return your flat to the council so they can let British people live here and we can return to what was normality before you infected this once great island.”
“It’s a simple choice obey the rule of the majority or leave [sic – no colon].”
“You won’t have long till our government will implement rules that will put British first. So, best evolve or leave.”
“God Save the Queen, her government and all true patriots [sic – no Oxford comma].”
Police are currently investigating the poster, which was entitled ‘Happy Brexit Day“, as a racially aggravated public order incident.
Elsewhere, the new GCSE figures also showed that the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their wealthier classmates rose for the second year in a row – jumping 0.4% on the previous year.