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Cultural bonanza pays homage to community languages

45A 700-strong audience were entertained at a cultural gala by The Community Languages Service of Tower Hamlets paying tribute to community languages and various cultures across Tower Hamlets.
Under the able leadership of Mr Showkat Khan, Service Manager of Community Languages Service, the International Language Day celebrations took place at York Hall in Bethnal Green and kept the whole audience captivated for the whole two hours.
The event celebrated the achievements of young people from the borough who attends after-school language classes in Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Lithuanian, Mandarin, Somali, Spanish, Urdu and Vietnamese including primary school children who learn a modern foreign language(MFL) in French, Spanish and Arabic through MFL tutors employed by the Community Languages Service.
Awards were also presented to schools, community groups, students and teaching staff who helped the youngsters gain top grades in exams including competitions in Posters, Leaflets and Topic-based creative writing.
The event coincided with International Mother Language Day, UNESCO’s global event remembering the language movement martyrs, who sacrificed their lives 60 years ago campaigning for Bengali as one of the state languages of the then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
Role plays, cultural dancing, drama and singing were just some of the highlights performed by young people on the night in Arabic, Chinese, Lithuanian, Bengali, Panjabi, Spanis and Urdu.
Guests included head teachers, parents, dignitaries from Lithuanian Embassy, Spanish Embassy and other professionals from various academic institutions.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs congratulated students on their performances and handed out certificates at the event.
The Mayor said: “Community languages play an important role in the lives of our young people and helps them to value their background and heritage.
“Tower Hamlets is proud to be home to residents from so many different and interesting backgrounds.”
Cllr Asma Begum, cabinet member for Culture added: “Congratulations to everyone who took part in this fantastic event. I am proud to belong to such a culturally diverse borough.”
Every year, the council’s Community Languages Team supports children to learn mother tongue and celebrate their heritage through after school clubs.
More than 45 after school classes currently take place in the borough catering for over 2,000 children every week in a range of languages including Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Lithuanian, Mandarin, Somali, Spanish, Urdu and Vietnamese. In addition, currently 30 primary schools benefit from using the Modern Foreign Language support provided by the service for French, Spanish and Arabic classes as part of school curriculum.
The council offers students the opportunity to take GCSEs and A levels in Arabic, Cantonese, Bengali, Mandarin and Urdu at ages 11-14 and to learn outside school hours.
Out of approximately 300 enrolled for the Early GCSE classes, only those students are entered in exams who get a prediction of obtaining A*-C. About 150 or more children take part in early GCSEs and A Level exams every year in Bengali, Chinese, Arabic and Urdu, with over 95% per cent achieving A*-C grades, with many pupils excelling by taking their AS and A levels in languages at an early age.