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Sing Round the World

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Whilst writing songs with children from over 100 schools during our 2012 project Ring Round the World (about all the participating nations in London 2012), it became apparent that there were next to no music resources for teachers, children and their families in the most common languages spoken in London and the UK – specifically, the mother tongues of those children and families with English as an Additional Language (EAL).

As a result, based on research and feedback from teachers and education professionals, we have developed Sing Round the World a 5-year, 5-phase project comprised of two essential ingredients:

  • the collection of world songs through working directly with families and children in UK language-based communities often identified as low achieving and hard to reach: and
  • the creation of a unique, universally accessible, free-to use, bi-lingual, web-based world song resource – for families, social workers, schools, and teachers up and down the country - to help children, not only learn English, but also their mother tongue.

They will be potentially invaluable tools in helping children and communities to overcome significant barriers to learning that they experience and will help accelerate the attainment of children with English as an additional language. Both will be developed into sustainable working models for use over subsequent phases and years.

Phase 1 Pilot (April – Dec 2013) – Camden - Bengali, Somali and Albanian.
Phase 2 (Jan – Dec 2014) - Camden - Chinese, Portuguese, Polish, Spanish, Arabic, French (incl. Congolese Kikongo, Lingala, Swahili and Tshiluba) and Turkish.
Phase 3 (Jan - Dec 2015) - Camden, Barnet, Brent, Harrow, Ealing, Haringey, Enfield, Hillingdon, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster - Akan, Yoruba, Tamil, Gujarati, Panjabi, Urdu/Hindi-speaking school children and communities across other EPOC partner boroughs in London.
Phase 4 (Jan – Dec 2016) – same London Boroughs as Phase 3 - Tigrinya, Malayalam, Luganda, Greek, selected Creoles and Pidgins, Italian, Lithuanian, Pashto/Pakhto, Swahili and non-Congolese variants, Igbo, Kurdish, Vietnamese, Russian, German, Nepali, Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian, Japanese, Nordic, Shona, Amharic, Dutch/Flemish, Romanian, Korean, Sinhala, Bulgarian, Krio, and Ga..
Phase 5 (Jan – Dec 2017) - UK-wide – indigenous UK minority languages and other minority languages in Europe.

Click here to see a table of the 50 most spoken languages other than English by London state school pupils in their homes.  The table also shows the top 10 London Boroughs where those languages are spoken and the numbers of speakers.

The aims of the project are to:

  • help build bridges, through the use of music and bilingualism, between cultures, communities, teachers and pupils, and pupils and parents;
  • create an enduring singing and language resource for the majority of the one million children in UK state schools who speak a language other than English in their home;
  • encourage the use of singing as a tool for breaking down some of the many well-documented linguistic and social ‘barriers to learning’ that these children experience;
  • celebrate the richly-varied musical cultures of the world represented in the recent, and increasing, immigrant populations of the UK;
  • raise the profile of UK supplementary schools and help promote links between them and mainstream schools where there are large communities of children with English as an additional language; and
  • encourage the engagement of hard-to-reach families in both their own learning and that of their children.

With EPOC’s specialist knowledge (music, singing, website building, world music), coupled with the experience of our two principal delivery partners, Camden Music Service (teacher training, access to mainstream schools) and City Lit Community Outreach (family work, access to local language-specific supplementary schools), we have assembled a team with expertise, capacity and experience. All three partners have extensive experience of working in this area – leading, as they have, on three similar (yet relatively under-developed in comparison with Sing Round the World) projects:

  • The World Song Project (1998) – led by Camden Music Service - 76 songs collected from local schoolchildren and their families
  • FAME (2010/11) – lead by City Lit/Camden Youth Service – collected 30 songs from London families
  • Ring Round the World (2011/12) – led by EPOC - 113 songs composed by children about 113 different countries

Although the project has longer term ambition and potential we want to start it small - piloting just three languages Somali, Albanian and Bengali - starting in the school where EPOC is based (a school where over 65% of the children have EAL) and with community groups and other schools in the London Borough of Camden where these languages are the three most common EAL languages spoken. By starting the project in this way we will be able to pilot key methodologies and then, once fully evaluated, establish them as a template model to be rolled out in subsequent phases across additional boroughs and LEAs.

To see some of the existing, still undeveloped, resources on the Ring Round the World website click on the flags below:

Albania Somalia Bangladesh

Did You Know?

  • Research shows that children who learn in their first language progress rapidly in other languages e.g. English. This project supports bi-lingual pupils (for whom English is a second language) in improving their attainment in English as well as their home language.
  • The numbers of children in UK schools with English as a second language is growing exponentially - from 499,000 in 1997 to 995,320 in 2012.
  • The period between 2001 and 2010 saw significant change in the UK's foreign-born population. In particular, the 2004 and 2007 enlargements of the European Union have led to mass migration from the likes of Bulgaria, Latvia, Romania, Poland, Slovakia and Lithuania. The number of Polish-born people resident in the UK increased from 60,711 in 2001 to an estimated 532,000 in the year to December 2010, whilst the Lithuanian-born population increased from 4,363 to an estimated 87,000.  
  • The top 20 mother-tongue languages spoken in London households by state school pupils are poorly represented in many of the resources available to teachers – especially in the realm of music. These 20 languages, alone, account for 269,000 London pupils.
  • 301/440 children at Primrose Hill Primary School (EPOC’s base) have English as an additional language.
  • 9,995/18,650 of Camden’s school children have English as an additional language.
  • 399,210/957,805 of Greater London’s school  children have English as an additional language.
  • 946,580/6.5 million school children In England have English as an additional language.
  • Music and song have long been recognised as an efficient tool in the teaching of languages but Sing Round the World offers more. Having songs in children’s own languages and the involvement of their families, peers, teachers and community, offers access to new dimensions of language learning – dimensions that are of particular importance to the, often, academically low-achieving groups for whom English is a second language.

It’s time for Sing Round the World!