First Day Back at School, by Ali Harwood

The first day back at school is often a shock. Whether you are a child, a parent or a teacher, that long summer break may seem a distant memory by mid-afternoon on the opening page of the new school year.

The seasons seem to change so quickly…


Who Should Be Teaching The Teachers? by Ali Harwood

This is for parents, teachers and those interested in education and how it works. I read an interesting article in the TES recently – ‘Spare us from the hypocrites who preach about how to teach’ - about the idea and reality of universities running our schools.

Summer Sharing: A-level Results, Languages Spoken in Holiday Destinations, and Back to School...

The holidays continue. (Well, for those of us down here in the south). But there's plenty going on to keep us busy.

Bringing Pupils Together

May here, with a summer missive. How was the end of term?

Getting Lost. Or, Getting Creative

I'm writing this blog-post partly for my own benefit. But knowing that it's useful for me makes me confident that it might be useful for some of you, too.

You see, there's just so much on offer here on the Mantra Lingua website that I sometimes wish I had a summary. I'm doing one for myself now, and you're going to witness my working.

The Multilingual T-Rex

Hands up. Who knows a child who likes dinosaurs?

Next question. Who's heard the news about T-Rex?

Why bilingual literacy is important

Here's a lovely article from last month, by Annabal Bagdi for the Oxford Mail. Words such as 'amazing' and 'eclectic' describe the range of languages that children know. We'd like the article just for that.

New Year Planning: EAL Assessment Frameworks

You and your learners are enjoying the 'home straight'. I shall never forget the smell of my primary-school playing field at this time of year.

Or perhaps you've already finished. (Hey, look at my surname. I may be a southerner for now, but I wouldn't ignore you Scots). 

Grammar Roundup

Sillily, I'm not even sure whether the fronted adverbial that I chose as an opener for this piece is a real word. This article suggests that it is, although some of the public comments at the bottom do question the headline wording.

Our Traditions of Language Diversity

The Mantra Lingua people have been working really hard to support you as you plan and budget for the new school year. They've been making sure you know about the benefits and resources coming from here, which are particularly helpful in the EAL field. I hope it's been useful for you. For this post, I'm taking a slightly different tone. I'm offering a personal philosophical and historical context, to suggest some perspective around what you do and to cheer us all on as we work.

Translation in an EAL Setting

We’re looking at ways in which teachers can support multilingual students and their parents, particularly as we plan ahead for the new school year. Today, I’m going to focus on one particular area: the use of translation. More specifically: translation when you don't know the other language. What do you do?

Welcoming pupils. And parents.

We’re now thinking about how we welcome new pupils at the beginning of the school year. This blog largely exists in order to share strategies, resources and insights connected with teaching students with English as an Additional Language. Now we want to add a very important element: their parents.

Approaches to Multilingual Learning

What was shared at the EAL Conference in Copenhagen recently? How can children be taught in their mother tongue? What is 'message abundancy' and how is it relevant to EAL learners? Where does Mantra Lingua fit in? Using Graham Smith's informative conference report as a catalyst, these questions are explored, with links to relevant locations on the web.

Assessing Writing Assessment: what’s it all about?

Just when you think all the tests are over and the leavers’ assembly, the summer holiday and big school are smiling at you from the near future, what happens? Writing assessment!

Refugees Welcome

When thinking about activities that will help you to explore the refugee experience, start with the Refugee Week website itself.

Celebrating Refugee Week

Our musings lately have been loosely based around special days and celebrations. Now, Refugee Week is coming up. This is an important one.

Eid Activities

On the subject of times and seasons... Eid is coming up.

Democracy. Community.

We’ve been talking a little about marked days and seasons, from sacred festivals to Embrace Your Inner Geek Day (a day to be encouraged in schools, surely). Now, it’s a different kind of important time, for some of us in the UK. Time to vote.

More on friendships at school

We've been thinking about the different forms that school friendships can take.


On the eighth of June, you may well be having discussions about the democratic process. For clear reasons, issues to do with reaching out, love, acceptance, friendship, co-operation, and strong communities feel very important right now. We've been having some big conversations since this post first went up. How do we highlight these issues at school?


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