The predictive effect of not having English as the mother tongue.

We often get questions from families who do not speak English at home, or where other languages are also spoken at home in addition to English. Parents are often concerned and wonder what effect this might have on their chances of getting through the 11 Plus.

“ We do not speak English at home but our child is bright and doing well at school, what effect might this have ?”

Not speaking English at home can have a negative impact on your child’s chances of getting into a Grammar School. Literacy skills, particularly vocabulary, spelling and comprehension ability are one of the biggest differentiators in the 11 Plus exam. Many children overcome this by reading in English every day and have frequent interactions in English outside the home. If English is not your first language within the home then one of the most effective ways of helping your child is to encourage and help them to read for at least half an hour every day. It is never too late to start and even embarking on an intensive reading programme in year five will help. Try to speak more English at home, encourage them to watch some mature programmes on the television (such as the news), encourage reading of newspapers. Do anything you can to increase their exposure to new vocabulary.

Be aware that in many families parents will focus on (for example) Non-VR and Maths, hoping that a good performance in these areas will overcome any weakness in literacy (VR and English). This is not an approach which works well because pretty much every 11 Plus exam in the country is weighted towards literacy skills.

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