Audrey Davies is an MFL teacher at Lichfield Cathedral School (LCS) and is incredibly passionate about empowering students to succeed in learning English, while maintaining positive feelings around their native language. LCS is a flourishing coeducational independent day school in Staffordshire. The schools core values include learning, faith, leadership and service, with a purpose to educate and inspire young people to become confident, enthusiastic and responsible members of society.
FlashAcademy® empowers students not to forget their mother tongue
LCS currently have 8 EAL students, speaking a range of languages including Ukrainian, Russian, German and Chinese Mandarin. Being from Belgium herself, Audrey knows what it takes to learn English as a second language and wanted to find the right platform for her students. Audrey notes that many EAL platforms “push away the mother tongue and then once they’ve reached that expected level of English then that’s it, the mother tongue is forgotten about.” FlashAcademy® offers the ability to learn from a choice of 48 home languages, encouraging students to feel independent and maintain a connection with their mother tongue. This is important as the removal of a student’s home language can result in “negative feelings about oneself and about their sense of identity”, Audrey shared.
Audrey shared that some students are encouraged by parents not to use their home languages at school, noting “that’s the first step towards just getting rid of the mother tongue and that split in between the identity and the language, which should not be there.” When deciding on an EAL platform to use at the school, Audrey felt that “FlashAcademy® is the only one that offers access to the mother tongue throughout the curriculum”.
It is often thought that multilingual students are more proficient than monolingual students at school and when referencing this, Audrey suggested that “it’s only if they are given the right opportunity, which is exactly what FlashAcademy® enables.”
“His level of English had improved so much” – Real student examples
LCS has five Ukrainian refugees, two of which arrived in February 2022, one in year six and one in year eight. Neither of the students could speak any English, which was a huge challenge for Audrey who doesn’t speak Ukrainian. Audrey shared how they got started, “At that moment, we didn’t have a FlashAcademy® account yet, so I was just using the amazing free resources on your website, which are just incredible. I just plastered them all over the school and in all the classes that they were in. Even in the nurse’s office, there’s still that little poster with all the body parts.” The school then got access to the FlashAcademy® app through their local authority, and almost 2 years later, using the assessment feature Audrey has determined that the students are now at a level D, going on to E!
Audrey explained how exciting it was to share this news with the students. When they first arrived, the school were worried about them not being able to interact with their peers and how this was affecting both children. When talking about one of the students, Adrey explained “So when I was able to break that news to him, I showed him his results on the Flash Academy® app and his face just lit up. He was so proud of himself and I was so happy because I could see that he was so happy to see that his level of English had improved so much.” Audrey was so excited to share the news with the students’ parents, who were also ecstatic at the progress made by using FlashAcademy®. But it is the students hard work and determination that really made the difference along with the support of the school, FlashAcademy® was the bridge to enable this.
Empowering the students to use their own language has been a huge part of the EAL strategy used by LCS. One student, who was previously ashamed of their own language, is now so proud that he is teaching Mandarin to other students! Audrey shared that, “One of our students became aware of the fact that they’ve got a huge opportunity there to learn a worldwide recognised language, Mandarin, from their peer. I don’t think this would have happened without FlashAcademy® because he would have kept it to himself as he’s a very serious student and he listens to his parents.”
“FlashAcademy® is breaking the barriers. Language is not just a language. It’s not just words. It’s culture.”
Audrey summarised the schools use of FlashAcademy®, “Language is a way of seeing life, of understanding things and that’s what I think FlashAcademy® promotes. For example, in between the lessons you get little notes, one was about how important tea is in English society and I like that. I like the cultural part of the app. FlashAcademy® is breaking the barriers. Language is not just a language. It’s not just words. It’s culture.”