Certification exam Non-native speakers are not accessible

A carte blanche from Nadia Echadi, teacher, founder of the non-profit organization Maxi-Lions, a network of Being Good for Children and ergonomic pedaconcepts

The certificate exam period brings the pressure and part of the question where the students enrolled in the FWB school will be the subject. Over the years, so-called reasonable accommodation has been provided so that students with special needs can take exams more quietly. Thus, a child, for example, dyslexic, receives documents printed in large letters and has more time to answer questions. The concept of this system is to meet the requirements of justice and justice provided by the mission decree.

However, a profile of children, although clearly identified as a specific requirement by the FWB, does not benefit from systematic reasonable accommodation. These are allophone children. The problem arises from the fact that there is skepticism among the teaching staff about taking the test and that these children are likely to be allowed access to the translation of the questions and instructions. In the discussion, the main idea that emerges is that allowing the use of a translation tool – a dictionary or a digital tool in paper format – is considered as a form of deception or help that can benefit some from others. However, an allophone child who finds himself facing a questionnaire written in his weak language is already in a predicament and giving him access to translation will only put him in a fair position.

While some teachers only need explicit permission from the hierarchy, others seem to oppose the idea of ​​translating questions and instructions.

But why aren’t they being given these facilities? Several factors seem to explain this “supervision”. First, the definition of the word “allophone” is not very clear and many do not know which children are eligible. Then, one of the handover instructions is that the children will be able to read and understand the instructions on their own. Finally, the difficulties experienced by children are often associated with factors other than their bilingualism.

What is Allophone Baby?

If we refer to the standard definition, an allophone person is a person whose mother tongue is the official language of the country in which they live. Regarding students, we can add that from the moment when they still have to rely on their first language and this allows them to complete their lexical fields, they enter the profile they are talking about. Too often, children learn new languages ​​by immersing themselves with their peers on the playground or in play activities and give the illusion that they have mastered the language of learning and therefore escape our radar. Indeed, there is often a confusion between Acquisition Learning a (mother) language and a language that assumes certain vocabulary, entering into structure. Basically, our general French text forms the language we already speak. The problem with Allophone children is that they need to learn French as a language of communication, but also a language Schooling, Which is a double difficulty. Unfortunately, the mother tongue is rarely considered, Many students find themselves in a situation of failure.

In addition, Scientific research Show clearly that learning a second language in a school context is, in the long run, up to 7 years. Although some children learn the language of communication quickly, they need to continue to rely on their mother tongue for their learning progress. Other studies have shown that children are stronger in their mother tongue Do better in school This allows them to acquire a better second language than others because they can switch from one to the other and thus connect to the perceptual (mother tongue) cognitive (the language of schooling) without establishing a hierarchy between the two.

Proficiency in the language of instruction determines the success of allophone students in the school system, and the lack of vocabulary and syntax puts them in a state of failure, the consequences of which we know:

  • Exile When the child does not show any disorder or deficiency to the specialist,

  • Returning to professional streams that are not in line with students’ preferences or their actual abilities,

Hence the importance of implementing reasonable accommodation to evaluate students more fairly and equitably. Several simple ways can be explored: give extra time or allow the use of the translation dictionary Minister of Education, Caroline Desir,, or FLA or Daspa to bring children together in a room who will handle the translation of questions and instructions. Using an application that scans and translates documents for words, phrases and instant translation saves valuable time.

Maxi-Lions ASBL Set up a welcome and support program for children in recent or past migration situations and have tested systems that have already proven their worth. Among them, a strengthening of the French language and translations of the general text has enabled all children to get their CEB who have benefited from it and are now successfully completing their courses in general secondary education. You can hear Testimony A teenager of Syrian descent, enrolled in the 4th primary course, had just over two years to learn to speak, read and write French, and to update himself in other disciplines.

So if it takes several years to master a second language at an adequate level of school learning, we cannot put Allophone students on stand-by and expect them to become fully proficient in French before continuing their course. (Especially if existing system does not allow access to this control).

Therefore, it is essential to provide them with the necessary tools to advance their education depending on their mother tongue until they are no longer needed. It is a matter of common sense.

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