Blog entry by Astrid Dinneen

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EMTAS are delighted to announce that we have just started a year-long collaborative research project with Prof Naomi Flynn from the University of Reading’s Institute of Education. In this blog we explain how this will work, what it will produce, and how schools can be part of the action.

What is the project?

The intention of the project is to unite Naomi’s research know-how with EMTAS’ EAL expert know-how in working with Hampshire schools.  This project builds on Naomi’s Talk Rich Teaching Project, which focussed on creating a UK version of a US approach to professional learning for teachers of multilingual pupils. Together we will build new professional learning materials for primary schools who want to enhance the level of talk in their classrooms as a route to raising their multilingual learners’ attainment. Naomi uses the term ‘multilingual learner’ rather than ‘learner with EAL’ because this foregrounds pupils’ multilingualism as an asset.

Why this collaboration?

Naomi has had a long-standing and fruitful relationship with EMTAS since 2007 when she first contacted us to help her PhD research at the University of Winchester. Therefore this collaboration is built on a strong relationship of mutual respect for each other’s work, and this gives the project significant potential for success.

Working with us gives Naomi the opportunity to spread the impact of her research to a wider audience and, for EMTAS, working with Naomi gives us the opportunity to explore new ways of working with our multilingual learners and our schools.

Why develop a talk rick approach to teaching EAL?

We know from a lot of research that multilingual learners need more access to talk in class if they are to make sustainable progress across the curriculum. We also know that the US-designed talk rich approach Naomi works with has led to better language and literacy outcomes for multilingual learners in both the US and the UK.

The approaches common to the professional learning that will be at the heart of our research project are based around:
- planning classroom activities that are inquiry-led,
- which celebrate our children’s identities,
- which involve some small group teaching,
- and where teachers work at saying less in order that children can say more.

There are some clear parallels with the current focus on oracy teaching, so this project is timely and something that can fit in with other whole school initiatives.

Moreover, we also know that this approach to teaching benefits all pupils and not just those who are multilingual. So, this is not something that will be additional to what schools already do, it’s more about re-thinking classroom delivery.

What will the benefits for Hampshire schools be?

Naomi has worked with one very diverse school over four years which rose from an OFSTED RI grading to Outstanding. So, we know that where schools buy into this approach for the long term, the outcomes are more likely to be successful.

However, we will be developing materials with the intention that schools can use them solo and at timescales that suit their school development priorities. These may include face-to-face professional development, but they will certainly be online. Where this project is a process of knowledge exchange, the end of project offering will become clearer over time, and we will keep you updated with regular blogs.

How can Hampshire schools get involved? 

We really need the input of Hampshire schools and teachers to make sure we get the development of these new materials right. Specifically, we are looking for primary schools with at least 10% multilingual learners. There are two ways in which you can get involved:
- You can feed directly into the design of the materials: We will interview your senior leadership team and EAL co-ordinator at a time and place convenient for you during the summer term 2024. We want to know how you currently support your multilingual learners and what you would want to see in online materials you can use as a staff team.
You can pilot the materials with us and give us feedback on how you want them adapted for future schools’ use between Nov 24 and Feb 25.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about this project, you are welcome to contact Naomi by email:

Watch this space for more information and project news 😊

[ Modified: Tuesday, 30 April 2024, 3:19 PM ]