AN international pilot project to teach children English is being trialled in a Glasgow school.

Pupils at Holy Cross Primary in Govanill are taking part in the study alongside children in the US, Australia and Spain.

More than 50 youngsters at the South-Side school do not speak English as a first language - making it ideal for the trial.

Researchers from Glasgow University worked at the school during May and June to find out how picture books can teach English as an additional language.

Holy Cross teacher Hagos Sinkie is carrying on the trial. He said: "Children who come from other countries already have language skills but it can be frustrating for them not to be able to answer questions or take part in classes.

"Working with the picture books helps break down those barriers because children are already familiar with and can understand them, no matter what their first language is."

Children taking part in the project are given two books to study. Both are made up entirely of drawings. They are asked to talk about the pictures and make up their own version of what's happening.

Then they carry out activities such as drawing, writing and taking photographs of places they want to share with other pupils.

More than 60 international academics met over the weekend to present their findings on the study. Dr Evelyn Arizpe, a lecturer in children's literature and researcher working on the Holy Cross trial, helped organise the symposium.

She said: "The books are very effective because they can be interpreted any way - there is no right or wrong. That helps cut down the fear factor and makes children enthusiastic about learning so they pick up vocabulary without realising it."

In Glasgow more than 10,500 children and young people speak English as an additional language - almost one in five.

A total of 110 different languages are spoken and four-fifths of these youngsters need direct support to boost their English. Holy Cross pupils come from a range of countries, including Somalia, the Philippines and Malaysia.

After the year-long trial, backed by the UK Literacy Association, it is hoped the picture books will be rolled out to other schools.