JK Rowling may be better known as the brains behind the Harry Potter saga, but her social media takedowns on Twitter are becoming stuff of legend.
So when Daily Mail columnist and Brexiteer, Andrew Pierce, claimed British schools are under “strain” because of children who speak English as a second or third language, Rowling bit back.
1.3 million children do not speak English as a first language underlining strain immigration puts on schools— Andrew Pierce (@toryboypierce) September 3, 2017
And as a former English teacher (Rowling taught English in Portugal before penning Harry Potter) the author knows a thing or two about learning a second language. Pointing out that if a child’s first language isn’t English doesn’t mean they aren’t fluent.
And, of course, social media users were quick to comment. One teacher pointed out that children who learn a second language often have a stronger grasp of it because they “learn it from the roots up”.
From my POV as a teacher, most second language English children have a stronger grasp of the language. They learn it from the roots up.— Jumping the snark (@Dani_L_P) September 4, 2017
And Rowling backed them up by saying she found that to be true when she taught English as a second language.
Some users pointed out that it’s not unusual for children to speak English better than native speakers:
Possibly because as a second langague, we learn the grammar instead of just pick up vocab & sentences - no one teaches that to a toddler.— Jen K ☕️🍀 (@froggydarren) September 4, 2017
Why is that? Crazy that German people have a better mastery of your native language. That's just not fair!!— Gary Forster (@GrandpaGAF) September 4, 2017
And then Sam Freeman, executive director of Teach First, stepped up to the plate with a lot of winning statistics in hand.
Nationally the average "Attainment 8" score for EAL pupils was higher than native speakers. Progress 8 was much higher.— Sam Freedman (@Samfr) September 3, 2017
And as if we needed any more evidence, but a report published in 2014 found for the first time ever that primary school pupils whose first language wasn’t English outperformed native speakers in central London.
Furthermore in 2016 a report from the Education Policy Institute found that pupils who speak English as an additional language were making “significant strides” throughout school.
2nd generation immigrant families tend to be pretty aspirational...— Sam Freedman (@Samfr) September 4, 2017
Yeah, they’re pretty aspirational indeed. And, once again, Rowling rules the internet.
Images: Rex Features