Oy vey! Where do I begin? I’m a born and bred New Yorker transplanted to small-town Essex. I became a teacher by accident. I stayed out of stubborn determination. I succeeded because I used my painful journey of being a foreigner to help kids who were or felt different.
Don’t blunder in with any old EAL resource. Learn what you need to support your students’ stage of language acquisition.
There are a multitude of bilingual resources out there from translated welcome packs and English-language learning lessons to assessment criteria. What do you need? More importantly, where do you find it?
Student E was present during my first interview lesson when I wanted to work in London schools. He had his head on the desk, in the small, hot EAL classroom and seemed generally unwell. I remember stopping the lesson and saying, ‘I might not get the job, but something is not right with this child. Should he go to medical?’ Perhaps it was prophetic. I did get the job, but something wasn’t right with this student.
Student N was a casual admission, i.e., mid-year, and came to our secondary school directly into Year 9. She seemed happy, socially confident and willing to learn, but was extremely slow to acquire English. In the group of students who were all new admissions, she was making the slowest progress out of all of them.
Oral work before written work – always! It is in oral work that language is tried, tested and acquired. Students should always work in pairs or groups for building complex answers. Read on for 15 more strategies!
So, I promised EAL would be made easy…well…easier. EAL students have one big problem and it’s NOT learning English. It’s learning enough academic English, fast enough, to get through whatever exam is coming. Their problem is not actual language acquisition, it’s the speed of acquisition. So providing support to access the curriculum must be done in a way that allows the EAL student to put chunks of useful language to good use right away.
…their problem is not actual language acquisition, it’s the speed of acquisition…
Below is the descriptor for ‘Outstanding’ teaching under the 2013 Ofsted Framework. Educationalists conscientiously tend to focus on the first part of the statement—their subject knowledge, planning and task design—to the inadvertent exclusion of the second—their students’ prior skills, knowledge and understanding.
Are you leaving out your students’ prior knowledge and skills?