On the 8th May 2017, we met at the Hull Trinity House Academy. This was our third meeting. Much grateful to the school for hosting us and having the amazing cake on offer!
The theme was A Whole School Approach to EAL. Nicola Chidlow, our host for the event, kicked us off with a presentation and talk/discussion on the same theme. Speaking about how the first language is used at Hull Trinity House, she said that the approach is to try English first and then the first language. The school runs its multilingual club (with food made by mums!), include a teacher-led session once a month. There is a global EAL folder, including bilingual word and glossaries, that any teacher at the school can access.
Nicola told us that there are active attempts to try and incorporate languages other than English in school lessons – for instance, teaching all learners to count (Maths) in Polish. The current thinking is to move from EAL training being voluntary to established one – seemingly in recognition of the growing need for EAL awareness amongst teachers.
At this point, Kamil mentioned the SEGfL Online background collation tool for new arrivals (http://newarrivals.segfl.org.uk/) . This admission tool, which can be used at that first interview with parents / learners when schools ask about the previous educational history of a student, their proficiency at languages other than English, religion and any potential medical issues, is translated into 16 languages – and it’s free!
Nicola also spoke about a scheme for interpreters, at which point Kamil mentioned Hampshire EMTAS Young Interpreters Scheme, which allows to train young people who have EAL to participate in translating between their language and English at anything from parents evenings and admission meetings to classroom situations when a new pupil arrives. The website for the Scheme is at: http://www3.hants.gov.uk/education/emtas-2/goodpractice-2/hyis.htm
Kamil Trzebiatowski was next up with his presentation on The linguistic needs of EAL and English native speaking learners: what language should we actually teach in secondary English? This was, in essence, a report on his action research at his school where he used a writing analysis tool to examine the language use of 20 EAL learners vs 20 non-EAL learners in English books, looking for differences and similarities. Particularly similarities as the intention was to find areas of language that English teachers could teach to all learners regardless of their mono- or bilingualism. The areas found were:
- the use of complex punctuation (e.g. dash or semi-colon)
- comparative adjectives
- nominalisation (e.g. “to create” changed to “creation”)
- more complex tenses (e.g. perfect tenses or conditional sentences)
These areas were severely underused by both the EAL learners and non-EAL learners in the sample, with some, like comparative adjectives, practically non-existent.
Kamil then suggested several strategies that could be used to address these issues:
- teaching defining (e.g. This is the book which I wanted – no comma present) and non-defining clauses (e.g. My father, who is 69, is an engineer – a comma separating a relative clause giving additional information). Here, we can suggest you look at Kamil’s blog (http://valuediversity-teacher.co.uk/drawing-sentences/) where he expands on this idea.
- Use Scramblinator (http://www.altastic.com/scramblinator/), which allows you to scramble (the word order of any) sentences or words so that your students can focus on grammatical structures.
- Comparative adjectives can be taught in one of the two ways:
- by using a Vocabulary Cline (see below): a teacher provides several words differing in strengths (e.g. deranged, unstable, unhinged, irrational, crazed) and the students need to arrange them on the cline from the weakest to the strongest
- by using substitution tables to promote comparative adjectives’ use
- idioms: Kamil suggested to use websites such as Busy Teacher (http://busyteacher.org/) and islCollective (https://en.islcollective.com/) for resources related to idioms as well as insisting on students using idioms in their writing and using Google Images to search for visual representations of phrases such as “to burn a candle at both ends” or “to sit on a fence”.
Next up for Lisa Cook, who is a Science teacher at Hull Trinity House. She gave a short presentation on Bilingual guide mats in Science. ‘Bilingual mats’ refer to the kind of terms as you can see in the image below, translated into the first languages of the students Lisa teaches. Lisa differentiates between the kind of language she is likely to use in every Science lesson and the language that will be specific to particular unit. I believe in literature this is called Content-Compatible Vocabulary (less specialised but important to subjects) and Content Obligatory Vocabulary (essential to mastering the understanding of single lesson or, as Lisa says, a unit).
Lisa uses Google Sheets, which can be programmed in such a way that entering a phrase in one box in English can be instantaneously translated into several languages (however many different languages you have spoken in your classroom) – all at once.
Finally, Catherine McDonnell, who works at Malet Lambert School as an EAL Coordinator, presented on Basic Literacy Across the Curriculum for New Arrivals – A Whole School Responsibility. The central part of her talk was showing us and talking about a booklet for newly arrived EAL learners that she has produced. The booklet includes pages on the structure of the school day, school uniform, school rules – just 3 rules: don’t use phones in lessons, be kind to others and be punctual! – and key words for different subjects.
However, I think we were all impressed by the last couple of pages to do with Food Technology (see the image below), which clearly uses the strategy of graphic organisers for teaching grammar to learners.
Catherine made a strong point whilst presenting her resource to us that before (mainstream) teachers can even consider talking about the content of their subjects, the kind of basic language that she included in her subject keywords has to be taught first – otherwise, content simply cannot be accessed by learners.
In the last 5 minutes of the meeting, Kamil spoke about a few online resources varying from free online courses (MOOCs) to online EAL teaching programmes. These are listed below:
- Course: Multilingual Practices (University of Groningen): https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/multilingual-practices/
- Course: Multilingual Learning for a Globalised World (University of Glasgow): https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/multilingual
- Course: Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching (Lancaster University): https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/dyslexia
- Course: The Bilingual Brain (University of Houston): https://www.coursera.org/learn/bilingual
- Course: Teaching ESL/EFL Reading: A Task-Based Approach (University of London / UCL): https://www.coursera.org/learn/esl-reading
- Teaching Programme: Language Garden: http://languagegarden.com/ (parts of speech and sentence structure presented in a colourful mind-map visual way – free to use.
Participants received certificates of attendance at the conclusion of the event.
Until the next time, then!