ANDREA PÉREZ WRITES
De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) is carrying out one of the first studies into English language learning in United Kingdom prisons. The university aims to find out what resources and opportunities are available for those prisoners who do not speak English, and to improve strategies and provision, its website reported.
DMU is collaborating with the Learning and Work Institute, which is planning to introduce a curriculum for Esol learners in prisons and rehabilitation settings. The Learning and Work Institute seeks to help prisoners build skills for their future and reduce reoffending. In this project, funded by the Bell Foundation, the Institute wants learners to make decisions on what is most important for them and their future. According to the Foundation, half of all prisoners have no qualifications at all, which limits their chances of finding a job when released. Prisoners will learn English plus maths, financial skills, health, ‘digital and civic capabilities’.
Three prisons and three community rehabilitation projects will be approached to be part of the pilot phase of the project in the first year, DMU reported. The study follows two reports – The Prison within Prison study on the provision of Esol education and training for prisoners and ex-prisoners, and The Language Barrier to Rehabilitation – both carried out and published by the Bell Foundation in 2015. The reports state that there is a lack of knowledge about this area and no data on how many people in UK prisons have English as a second language. They identified literacy training and English language skills as crucial, the university’s website reported.
According to DMU and the Bell Foundation, it is important for UK prisons to tackle this issue because not being able to speak English is a determining factor in how prisoners face day-to-day life in jail and their life after release. ‘This is a very under-researched area and we will be looking to see what can be done to improve the quality of provision,’ said Ross Little, lead researcher on this project.
‘Many people in prisons in this country are unable to communicate well in English, and this impacts significantly on their lives inside and outside of prison. A recent report by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Prisons found that people who do not understand spoken English are much more likely to report having felt unsafe in prison,’ Little added. Due to the increase in global migration and mobility across nationalities, the potential number of learners in prisons needing access to Esol provision is increasing, The Prison within Prison noted.
The UK Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee announced in April that there will be an inquiry into the mass deportations of international students who’d taken the Educational Testing Service (ETS) Toeic test of English as part of their visa applications. The Hindu newspaper gave a figure of 48,000 international student deportations, with the Hindustan Times estimating that 70 per cent of these were Indian nationals. They were accused of obtaining their student visas ‘by deception’ after a cheating scam at a single college led to ETS’s removal from the Home Office’s Secure English Language Tests list.
ANDREA PÉREZ WRITES
The New York City (NYC) Department of Education plans to double bilingual programmes in the city. In total 38 new bilingual courses, including 29 dual language programmes, will start this September, with nearly $1 million in investment in planning grants for schools, libraries and training for teachers and administrators, the department announced.
Carmen Fariña, NYC school chancellor, says that ‘expanding literacy through bilingual programmes is common sense for New York City.'
The University of Northern New Jersey (UNNJ), founded in 2013, had a distinguished-looking coat of arms featuring an opened book and a scroll with the motto: ‘Humanus, Sceintia, Integritas’. Over 1,000 students had enrolled in UNNJ, whose busy Facebook and Twitter feeds notified students of closures for holidays or during blizzards.
But the whole university was a fake, a sting operation run for over two years by undercover agents of US Homeland Security that led to the arrest and indictment of 21 educational agents, student recruiters or ‘visa brokers’ on visa fraud charges.