A primary school where more than half the students do not speak English recently became Britain’s first to provide every child with a computerized translator, Asian News International reports. The program, called “damaging and dangerous” by critics, will enable 60 percent of the 384 pupils to communicate with teachers using the software. Children type questions into the computer in their native language, which are translated out loud into English for the teacher. Teachers type instructions for pupils, which can be translated back into 25 different languages. English-speaking pupils also can use the translator to communicate with foreign classmates. Manor Park Primary School in Aston, Birmingham, is the first in the U.K. to give the “Talking Tutor” software to every student. Developed by EMAS UK, the software translates English into 25 languages, including Polish, Urdu, and Chinese. A further 200 can be translated on-screen. Head teacher Jason Smith said: “Just because English isn’t a pupil’s first language, it doesn’t mean they aren’t academically gifted, so this allows us to assess them in their own language while helping them with their English at the same time.” But some, like Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, are unhappy with the move. “Surely it would be better to give foreign-speaking youngsters an intensive course in English before they start school,” he told the Daily Express, adding: “There is a danger that this computer translator will keep children within their own social group, which could be damaging to their future prospects.”

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Maya Prabhu