Computer translator for pupils who can't speak English

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A school where 60 per cent of pupils speak English as a second language has invested in electronic translators for every child so they can communicate with teachers.

Manor Park Primary in Aston, Birmingham, which has 384 pupils of 32 different ethnicities, is the first school in Britain to provide translators for all of its children and to make the tools an integral part of every lesson.

The technology enables teachers to type messages to pupils which are then translated into the 19 native tongues of children with no English.

Headmaster Jason Smith said the software had transformed his school and given staff the opportunity to communicate with children.

"We have a very diverse school - at any one time there are upwards of 30 different languages. We have always found this the biggest barrier to integrating a child into the school."

The technology could soon become a permanent feature in many more schools as figures double from those of ten years ago to one in six primary pupils now speaking a different language at home.

However, critics say that giving pupils computerised translators could be 'damaging and dangerous'.
Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: "Surely it would be better to give all these foreign-speaking youngsters an intensive course in English."

The technology entails the teacher typing a message into a computer and the virtual tutor then reading the message out to the pupil in their native tongue. The pupil types a response which is read to the teacher by the tutor.

The 'Talking Tutor' can verbally translate English into 25 languages including Polish, Urdu, Pakistani and Chinese.