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Anyone in the world


Part-time PhD student Sarah Coles is currently researching UK-born children’s lived experiences of growing up in more than one language.  In this blog, she considers the place of the home language in the linguistic landscape of bilingual children from linguistic minority communities.   


My research focuses on the development of both first language (L1) and English (L2) of bilingual children growing up as members of linguistic minority communities in an L2 context.  It’s a longitudinal study that follows a small sample of bilingual children through their first year of schooling.  Using picture sequences, I elicit stories from each child, one in L1 and another in English, their L2.  This will be done once at the beginning of the fieldwork phase and again at the end.  In this way, I hope to be able to identify how the children’s two languages evolve over time and to document any shift in dominance from one language to another that may occur.  I will also work with each child to explore their lived experiences of growing up in two languages.  Additional contextual information, including the detail of their own language use, will be gathered from the children’s parents.  Ultimately, through the children’s own narratives, I hope to deepen practitioners’ understanding of bilingual children in the Foundation Stage and to pinpoint some practical ways in which support for such children might be tailored to improve their engagement with their learning.



Setting the scene: two broad-brush models of bilingual development


Across the globe, monolingualism is not the norm for all children; exposure to more than one language and bilingual development from an early age is in fact more prevalent than a monolingual model.  Children may experience different routes in their journeys to bilingualism dependent on their immediate family contexts.  Some children will be born into households where each parent speaks a different language and the child has access to both from birth.  This might be described as simultaneous bilingualism.  Other families may be part of a settled immigrant community and the child may experience a monolingual start, being exposed to a minority language at home and, later in their development, the majority language outside of it. This would describe sequential bilingualism.

     
The outcomes for children growing up in bilingual settings are varied.  Some will go on to develop comparable skills - receptive and productive – in their two (or more) languages and will be able to function in different contexts – school, home, community – equally well in both/all.  At the other end of the spectrum, it is just as possible for a child to have exposure to two (or more) languages yet to learn to speak only one themselves. 



The possible impact of differential linguistic prestige


There are various factors that may influence the course and outcome of a bilingual child’s language development.  One that seems to be significant relates to people’s perception of the relative prestige of the child’s two – or more - languages.  A child from a linguistic minority community may experience a monolingual start to life with exposure to the minority language in the home from their main care-givers from birth.  Later, and because it is the language of schooling, the child is required to develop a second, additional language, English.  For such a child, the second language is where the cultural capital resides, it being the language of the majority community.  Because of its sociocultural dominance over the minority language, it is often the case that this second language becomes the child’s preferred one, eventually replacing their first, minority language.  


This is a scenario experienced by many children of Hampshire’s UK-born ethnic and linguistic minority communities.  They may, in their early years, be exposed to – let’s say – Nepali at home but later, when they start school, English.  From that point onwards, families may notice their child gradually ceases to use Nepali, preferring to respond in English even when addressed in first language (L1).  This end result is sometimes referred to as ‘passive bilingualism’ although as De Houwer (2009) notes there is “nothing passive about understanding two languages and speaking one”.



The possible impact of quantity of input experienced 


A second consideration is the quantity of language input experienced by the child.  In a monolingual context, the language of the home is the same as the language of the wider community and – often – of education too.  Everywhere the child goes and everyone they meet speaks the same language.  Hence the child has multiple models of the same, single language.  In contrast, linguistic minority children born in the UK may have exposure to L1 at home and L2 (English) outside of it.  Hence their overall exposure to L1 is – in most cases - reduced. 


The impact of reduced exposure to each of the bilingual child’s two languages has been explored by researchers with an interest in child language development.  One thing that’s emerged is the observation that a child’s lexicon (the words they know and use) in each of their languages reflects the amount of exposure the child has to each language – which is typically less for each language than the total exposure to their one language experienced by a monolingual child of similar age.  When their vocabularies in both languages are combined, however, the overall picture of these bilingual children’s lexical development has been found to be on a par with their monolingual peers.


Further, research has identified that if the words known by a bilingual child are listed, only about one third represent words that are translations of each other; i.e. two thirds of the words a bilingual child knows in one of their languages are known only in that language and are not shared with the child’s other language.  This is likely to be directly related to differences in the contexts in which each language is used and the communicative purpose being served.



The possible impact of context 


Some researchers have found there to be discrepancies between UK-born bilingual children’s skills in L1 (the heritage language) compared with those of children of comparable age but growing up in a monolingual context.  They suggest that the L1 skills of bilingual children growing up in the UK are unlikely to reach a level comparable to monolingual children growing up in country of origin.  This, they say, is largely due to reduced exposure to the heritage language from adult L1 models who may themselves be experiencing language loss due to lack of use.  The overall outcome, some have suggested, is likely to be ‘incomplete L1 acquisition’. 

Elsewhere in the literature, the notion that ‘incomplete first language development’ exists at all attracts criticism.  Some have argued that all intergenerational first language transmission, including that which takes place in monolingual settings, evidences change.  According to this view, what others may see as ‘errors’ in L1 in fact represent “normal intergenerational language change accelerated by conditions of language contact” (Otheguy, 2016).  According to this view, in immigrant populations new L1 norms will naturally develop, resulting in divergence between L1 use in an L2 immersion context compared with L1 use in a monolingual, home country context.  Hence context has a bearing on the language models to which a bilingual child might be exposed. 



The possible impact of the language modelled 


Another important consideration when it comes to a child’s language development is the nature of the language models to which they are exposed.  Typically, linguistic minority parents themselves do not function in a monolingual context and this can have an impact on their everyday language practices.  The result is often an incremental increase in both code-switching (characterised by swapping from one language to another at word/phrase level) and code-mixing (combining grammatical structures from both languages) where in their speech they move in a fluid, natural way between languages, swapping a word or a phrase here and borrowing a grammatical structure there. 


In the literature, code-mixing and code-switching are identified as common linguistic practices amongst bilingual populations.  Having been found to be rule-based and systematic, code-switching and code-mixing are these days viewed in a favourable light as opposed to the deficit view that prevailed in the past that stigmatised them as “…the haphazard embodiments of “language confusion” (MacSwan, 2017). 

Although limited in terms of the number of empirical studies into the impact on bilingual children’s language development of code-switching and code-mixing by their parents, research suggests that bilingual adults frequently engage in these practices in interactions with their children.  This is in line with trends identified in the broader sweep of studies into bilingual code-switching and code-mixing.  What it means for a child growing up in more than one language is that they are likely to experience code-switching and code-mixing in language inputs modelled by family members and other significant adults around them.  This may in turn prompt them to code-switch and code-mix themselves in their own speech.  


Code-switching and code-mixing in parental inputs appear to influence L1 development in children growing up as members of language minority communities in other ways too.  Some studies have found a negative correlation, with higher rates of code-switching and code-mixing by parents resulting in lower comprehension and production vocabulary sizes in young children.  Others have identified that code-switched input, arguably more challenging to process than input in a single language, has positive outcomes but only for those children with greater verbal working memory capacity who are capable of processing it.



What this means for my research 


To draw to a close, the above whistle-stop tour illustrates that bilingual language development is a complex, multi-faceted phenomenon.  It is affected by multiple influences, each impacting in different ways and to different degrees on the individual child in their own specific context.  Through my research, I make space for a small sample of UK-born bilingual children to explore these differences and to focus on their first-hand experiences of growing up in more than one language.  Once this has happened, any findings relevant to practitioners working with young, UK-born bilingual learners will be shared so that all bilingual children in Hampshire schools and settings receive a Year R experience that is sensitive to their developmental needs.   
 


References

De Houwer, A. (2009). Bilingual first language acquisition (1st ed., Vol. 2). Multilingual Matters.
MacSwan, J. (2017). A Multilingual Perspective on Translanguaging. American educational research journal, 54(1), 167-201.
Otheguy, R. (2016). The linguistic competence of second-generation bilinguals Romance linguistics    2013 : selected papers from the 43rd Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL),      New York, 17-19 April, 2013, New York.


[ Modified: Thursday, 14 October 2021, 11:07 AM ]
 
Picture of Astrid Dinneen
by Astrid Dinneen - Thursday, 30 September 2021, 2:54 PM
Anyone in the world

By Claire Barker


At long last we bring you the good news that the EMTAS conference will take place on 15th October 2021 at The Holiday Inn, Winchester. We are delighted that this will be an in person event; over the last eighteen months, the conference date has been moved several times because we really wanted to be able to meet and greet you face to face. This is, at last, possible and we look forward to welcoming practitioners who work in any phase of education from EYFS to KS4 to the long-awaited event.
 
The Conference is titled ‘All in this together – going from strength to strength’. This reflects the post pandemic fatigue felt by many of us and how we now need to move forward together to support our EAL and GRT children who have maybe struggled with their education during the pandemic. Many EAL and GRT children will have lost skills they’d acquired in English and will now be playing catch up. Many will have missed out on peer-to-peer interaction and the opportunities this provides to develop social language and interpersonal skills. On the positive side, some will have improved their first language skills as a result of spending more time living in that language. Others will have increased their ICT skills and their digital literacy and this will be a focus of one of our workshops, how to use ICT programmes to support literacy in the classroom. 

We are very fortunate to be able to welcome Eowyn Crisfield, who is a well know name in linguistic communities. Eowyn is a Canadian-educated specialist in languages across the curriculum, including EAL, home languages, bilingual and immersion education, super-diverse schools and translanguaging. Her focus is on equal access to learning and language development for all students, and on appropriate and effective professional development for teachers working with language learners. She is author of the recent book ‘Bilingual Families: A practical language planning guide (2021) and co-author of “Linguistic and Cultural Innovation in Schools: The Languages Challenge” (2018 with Jane Spiro). She is also a Senior Lecturer in TESOL at Oxford Brookes University.

Our very own Deputy Team Leader, Sarah Coles is currently studying for her PhD. Sarah’s longitudinal study, now in its fourth year, focuses on children with Nepali or Polish in their backgrounds. These two languages represent the greatest number of referrals made by schools to Hampshire EMTAS, hence the relevance of the research to the Hampshire context. In her presentation, Sarah will consider some of the features of the linguistic soundscape experienced by UK-born bilingual children. Drawing on findings from her pilot study, she will discuss the use of the Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives, drawing attention to some points of note for mainstream practitioners with an interest in language development. 

Our third keynote speaker of the day is Leanda Hawkins.  Leanda is from a Hampshire Romany family with a long history of culture and heritage. She went on to Higher Education, and has carved a career supporting children with special educational needs. Her motivation is to help all children progress and thrive through education. Leanda will share her experiences of education as a child, student and artist now working as Behavioural Lead and HLTA in a federated school in Hampshire. 

The workshop offer will include a session with Eowyn looking at 'Language and literacy development for multilingual learners: What do we know and what can we do?'. There will be an interactive IT session looking at OT programmes to support literacy in the classroom led by Lynne Chinnery.  Jamie Earnshaw will lead a workshop focusing on the 'New Hampshire EMTAS first language support programmes'. Helen Smith will host a session on 'Literacy for GRT pupils and breaking barriers in the school community'. Sarah Coles will lead a session on ‘MAIN - Multi-Lingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives'.

The Conference promises to be exciting and informative.  Delegates will have the opportunity to participate in two workshop sessions as well as time to visit the stalls that will promote and highlight resources to help support EAL and GRT students.

If you would like to continue your studies in EAL best practice the new Supporting English as an Additional Language(SEAL) course begins later this term. If you are interested in this course please contact HTLC to book a place or email: Claire.Barker@hants.gov.uk for more information. 

We are looking forward to seeing you at our future events.


References
Language and learning loss: The evidence on children who use EAL (bell-foundation.org.uk)
Languages in lockdown: Time to think about multilingualism | LuCiD

[ Modified: Thursday, 7 October 2021, 1:21 PM ]
 
Picture of Astrid Dinneen
by Astrid Dinneen - Tuesday, 7 September 2021, 11:44 AM
Anyone in the world

By the Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors 


Welcome to this new academic year. The EMTAS team is feeling refreshed after the summer holiday and looks forward to continuing their work. We’re particularly excited to support more schools this year as they work towards achieving an EAL or GRT Excellence AwardIn this blog you will find out what’s in store for 2021-22 to support your professional development as well as your award submission. You will also learn more about our Heritage Honours Award, find out about staff changes in our team and catch up with important research projects.


Network meetings 

The dates of our EAL network meetings can be found on our websiteWe will also be holding specific network meetings for Early Career Teachers, the details of which can be found on the same page of our website. The termly GRT-focused network meetings will continue to be held online this year. Like our EAL network meetings, they are free to attend for Hampshire-maintained schools. To find out when the next ones are, check the Training section of the EMTAS website.


EMTAS conference 

We are very much looking forward to the EMTAS Conference on Friday 15th October at the Holiday Inn in Winchester. It promises to be an enlightening day with Eowyn Crisfield as one of our keynote speakers. She is an acclaimed expert in languages across the curriculum and has a wealth of knowledge in this field. Sarah Coles will be sharing her research findings on ‘Pathways to bilingualism: young children’s experiences of growing up in two languages’ and Leanda Hawkins will speak of her experiences of education from the perspective of belonging to the Romany community. There will also be a selection of cross phase workshops for delegates to take part in and stalls to see some of the latest resources available to support EAL and GRT pupils in education. Everyone who signs up will receive a free set of the latest EAL Conversation Cards valued at £45. There are limited spaces so please sign up as soon as possible. For further information and online booking please see our flyer attached to this blog. 


New e-learning 

We are pleased to announce that we have new E-learning modules now available: 

- Supporting children and families from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) backgrounds

- Developing culturally inclusive practice in Early Years settings

- The appropriate placement of learners with EAL in groups, sets and streams.

Our e-learning modules are free to access for Hampshire-maintained schools. To find out how to obtain a login, please see our Moodle.



Awa

Heritage Honours Award

The EMTAS Heritage Honours award, launched last academic year, celebrates the achievements of children from BME, EAL and GRT backgrounds at school and within the home/community. Children and young people can be nominated for an award by the school they are currently attending. More than 60 successful nominations were received last year. Reasons for nomination variously include success in heritage language examinations, practical and creative use of first language within the school environment, sharing cultural background with peers, acting as an empathetic peer buddy, success in community sporting events and excellent progress in learning EAL. Nominations are now open for this year. To find out more about how to nominate a pupil, see our Moodle


Research 

Debra Page is entering the third and final year of her PhD researching the Young Interpreter Scheme. Data collection happened online due to the pandemic and the first and second wave of data collection with 84 children across 5 schools is now complete. The third and final data collection will be in November and all the data will then be managed and analysed. In her last update, Debra shared a YI diary and additional training resource she created. She delivered this virtually with each school during their YI training session and initial feedback has been very positive. It is hoped that these extra resources will form part of the YI training in the near future. The children are excited to complete their diaries about the work that they do as a Young Interpreter. If the diary is something that you are interested in, please get in touch. We look forward to finding out results of what is learnt about the Young Interpreter Scheme. 

diary

Sarah Coles will update us on her own PhD in a separate blog very soon. Her PhD is part time and she’s just embarking on her fourth year of study. She’ll mainly be involved in data collection this year and a number of schools with children from Polish and Nepali families starting in Year R have agreed to support this. Sarah is hoping the families she and members of our Bilingual Assistant team approach will be similarly willing to be involved. 


Staffing

At the end of last term, we wished Chris Pim a happy retirement and welcomed back Astrid Dinneen following her maternity leave. As a result, we have made some changes to the geographical areas the specialist teacher team will be covering:

Sarah Coles – Winchester

Lisa Kalim – New Forest

Astrid Dinneen – Basingstoke & Deane

Jamie Earnshaw – Eastleigh, Fareham and Gosport

Claire Barker – Hart, Rushmoor and East Hants

Lynne Chinnery – Havant, Waterlooville and Isle of Wight

Helen Smith – Test Valley

Sarah, Claire and Helen will also cover GRT work across the county.

We also welcome Abi Guler to our Bilingual Assistant team. He will be working with our Turkish families. We are delighted to have also newly recruited Fiona Calder as our new Black Children's Achievement Project Assistant. 


We are all looking forward to continuing working with you. In the meantime, be sure to subscribe to the blog digest and visit our website.


[ Modified: Friday, 10 September 2021, 11:29 AM ]
 
Picture of Jamie Earnshaw
by Jamie Earnshaw - Monday, 19 July 2021, 11:23 AM
Anyone in the world

By the Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors 
 

EMTAS logo


This last year has been busier than ever for the EMTAS team.

 
Our Bilingual Assistants (BAs), led by our BA Manager Eva Papathanassiou, have been working tirelessly, remotely throughout the national lockdowns and then, when it became possible, in person, providing support to pupils, families and schools. Much time has been spent by our BAs supporting children and families with accessing online learning. 


We have seen an increase in the number of referrals compared to last year and have been busy ensuring that all requests are responded to. The most popular languages referred to us this year have been Nepali, Polish, Romanian, Arabic, Turkish, Portuguese and Cantonese. 


Our language phone lines have also been popular. The phone lines are available to support with sharing information with parents/carers, answering any questions they have and helping with home-school communication. Contact details and the list of languages can be found here.  


Over with the Traveller team, new this year a series of termly GRT-focused network meetings were held online. These will continue to be online through 2021-22 in order to make them accessible to staff in schools across the county. Like our other network meetings, they are free to attend for Hampshire-maintained schools. To find out when the next ones are, check the Training section of the EMTAS website. 


The EMTAS Admin team have continued to offer back-office support, maintaining records, sending out resources and dealing in impressively efficient ways with new referrals that have been flooding in from schools since the end of the last lockdown.   
 
EAL/GRT Excellence Award 


We are delighted that over 60 schools have started to work towards their EAL or GRT Excellence Awards this term. 


Congratulations to the following schools who have successfully submitted or completed the validation process this year: 


EAL 

Petersfield Infant School 

Validated at Gold 

Merton Infant School 

Validated at Gold 

Whiteley Primary School 

Validated at Bronze 
 

John Keble C of E Primary and Ampfield C of E Primary Federation 

Validated at Silver 

Brookfield 

Awaiting validation for Bronze 

 
Tower Hill 

Validated at Bronze 

 

Manor Field Infants

 

Validated at Silver

 

GRT 

St John the Baptist C of E                                                         

Validated at Silver              


Heritage Honours Award 

HH

The EMTAS Heritage Honours Award, launched this academic year, celebrates the achievements of children from BME, EAL and GRT backgrounds at school and within the home/community. Children and young people can be nominated for an award by the school they are currently attending. 


More than 65 successful nominations have been made this year. Reasons for nomination variously include success in heritage language examinations, practical and creative use of first language within the school environment, sharing cultural background with peers, acting as an empathetic peer buddy, success in community sporting events and excellent progress in acquiring EAL. 


Congratulations to all the children and families involved. Find out more here. 
 
New e-learning 


The team has been busy developing new pieces of E-learning this year which will be available from September 2021.  

-  Supporting children and families from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) backgrounds 

-  Developing culturally inclusive practice in Early Years settings 

-  The appropriate placement of learners with EAL in groups, sets and streams 

The e-learning modules can be accessed on our Moodle here. 

 

Supporting English as an Additional Language (SEAL) 


This is a course aimed at Teaching Assistants and it covers key aspects of practice and provision in relation to pupils for whom English is an Additional language.  The full course comprises 6 modules which are delivered one a term over two years.  There is a new SEAL course starting in October 2021.  

For further details, please go to the Training section on the EMTAS website. 


Guidance Library 


Thank you for all the positive feedback we have received about the remote support we have provided in the Guidance Library section of our Moodle. We will continue to add to this next year. Access our Guidance library here. 
 
EMTAS Blog 


This year, we have published 20 blogs, written by a range of practitioners, including EMTAS Bilingual Assistants and Specialist Teachers, school-based staff and University students. We look forward to continuing to publish a fortnightly blog next year. 


If you would like to contribute, please do get in touch with Astrid Dinneen astrid.dinneen@hants.gov.uk (who would like to say a massive thank you to Jamie Earnshaw for editing the blog so beautifully during her maternity leave).

 
EMTAS Resources Update 


This year, we have been busy adding to our Resource Library. Below, we have listed some of the resources available to loan. You will also find a link to our online catalogue, so you can view all the resources we have available. 


Story Packs 

Caterpillar


Each book has a series of props, made from key characters/events in the story, on lolly sticks (six of each prop), plus six copies of a key phrase that is used throughout the book. This resource can then be used with a group of children, who can enjoy telling the story in their own language, or share in English, using the props, or in many other ways. The resource can be lent out with one dual language version of the book. 


Some of the stories we have include:

- Sports Day in the Jungle – Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish 

- The Hungry Caterpillar - Punjabi 

- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see? – Arabic, Albanian, Bengali, Chinese, Portuguese, Somali, Turkish, Urdu, Shona, Hindi, Panjabi 

- Farmer Duck – Bengali, Chinese, Malayalam, Turkish, Urdu, Bulgarian, Japanese, Panjabi, Romanian, Hindi, Nepali, Polish, Tagalog, German 

- Monkey Puzzle – Brazilian Portuguese 


EAL Story sacks 


We have in stock a selection of EAL story sacks. They come in stories suitable for KS1. They have the story book, story props, and an audio CD of the story. Plus, they have a DVD with printable resources of activities for children with EAL.

 
Fiction for older readers 


For the later primary and early secondary age (10 – 14 years), we do have many stories that can be enjoyed, in a variety of languages. We also have some of the very popular choices of fiction, such as Harry Potter and Tom Gates, in some languages.

  
GCSE texts 


We have a range of GCSE texts available to loan, such as A Christmas Carol, Animal Farm, Macbeth, and Romeo & Juliet, available in different languages including Polish, Portuguese, Bulgarian, Italian and Spanish. There are direct translations, thesaurus versions, graphic versions and GCSE notes. 


Exam Dictionaries 


We have a large range of exam dictionaries, which are word to word only and do not have a definition or what the word means. 

 
New books for older readers with low reading ages 

Older readers


We now have a range of reading books available, primarily aimed at secondary school aged students who have low reading ages but many are also suitable for upper primary school aged pupils too. They have been written specifically with older readers in mind and so the content has been chosen to interest this age group, ensuring that the readers do not feel that the books are ‘babyish’ even though the text itself may be relatively simple.    


The reading ages of the books range from approximately 5-6 years old to around 9-10 years old. They have been divided into nine groups so that books with similar reading ages can be easily identified. Books from a particular colour band for an individual student can be borrowed, matched to their reading level, then, as the student’s reading skills improve, a book from the next colour band up could be borrowed as their reading skills improve.   


These books would be suitable for older new arrivals who need support to develop their reading skills in English and for whom reading books aimed at younger readers would not be suitable.  They would also be appropriate for older students with EAL who also have SEND or for older pupils from Traveller backgrounds who are still developing their reading skills.  

 
A word of warning about using these books with UASC and refugees – there are some titles within this group of books that are not suitable for use with UASC or refugees due to either the genre, content or illustrations. This is because these children and young people may have experienced trauma either in their country of origin or during their journey to the UK and some of the books may remind them of this. 

 
EMTAS Library Catalogue 


The EMTAS Library Catalogue can be found on our website here. Use the search box at the very top right-hand side of the screen to search for resources in a particular language. You can then email our Resources Manager, Julie Yates, who will arrange for the resources to be sent out via the courier. 


Contact Julie Yates at julie.yates@hants.gov.uk  
 

Staffing 


At the end of this term, we will be bidding farewell to a number of colleagues.  


Chris Pim, who retires at the end of the summer term, has been a member of the EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisor team for many years.  Schools in Fareham and Gosport will know him particularly well as he’s been their District teacher and has provided ad hoc advice and support as well as network meetings and other training opportunities.  Until handing over to Lynne Chinnery in September 2020, Chris was also often to be found in schools in Havant and Waterlooville performing a similar role.  


Chris’s particular interest has been in the use of ICTs and he leaves a fantastic legacy in this area.  His project on the use of immersive gaming as a driver for writing was exemplary EAL practice in the classroom.  He’s been instrumental in conceiving of and developing the EMTAS EAL e-learning available to schools across the county as part of the SLA.  The EMTAS Moodle, the blog, the videoscribes and the app ‘Big Ideas’ were other contributions made by Chris to the resources available to staff in schools.  He led on the project that looked at Hampshrie’s Fijian communities, resulting in a dual language book about Rugby being produced, along with two new Fijian/English versions of titles in the Mantra collection of dual language books.  We also have Chris to thank for the new Heritage Honours Award, the subject of a recent blog from Henry Cort.  All at EMTAS will miss him greatly.  


On the Bilingual Assistant team, we say goodbye to Cintia, who has been working with our Portuguese speaking children and families, and Marianne, who has been supporting our French referrals. We wish them the best of luck in their new ventures. 
We extend a warm welcome back Astrid Dinneen, who returned in July following maternity leave. Astrid will be back working with schools in Basingstoke & Deane, along with overseeing the blog and the Young Interpreter Scheme, and much more! 


As a result of the staff changes to the teacher team, there will be some changes to the geographical areas the Specialist teacher team will be covering from September. Helen Smith has spent the last year supporting schools in Basingstoke and Deane but, from September, Astrid will be resuming her work in this area. Instead, Helen will be supporting schools in Test Valley.  As we bid farewell to Chris Pim, Jamie Earnshaw will be taking the lead in Fareham and Gosport.  


We also welcome Abi Guler to our Bilingual Assistant team.  He will be working with our Turkish families. 

 

Finally… 


We have some exciting projects up our sleeves for 2020-21! 


After having to be postponed on two occasions, we are very much looking forward to our EMTAS Conference, which is to be held on Friday 15th October.   


We will be continuing to hold our termly network meetings. Check the Training section of the EMTAS website for dates and to see what these sessions will cover. 


Following the support we provided to students completing a Heritage Language GCSE this academic year, we look forward to sharing the results in September. We will also be getting ready to support students with Heritage Language GCSEs in the autumn and again next summer. We will keep you posted with news of the packages of support we will be offering. 


Have a great summer and we look forward to seeing you all next term! 


More news coming soon... 
 
Visit the Hampshire EMTAS website 


Subscribe to our Blog Digest (select EMTAS) 

[ Modified: Wednesday, 21 July 2021, 4:51 PM ]
 
Picture of Jamie Earnshaw
by Jamie Earnshaw - Tuesday, 6 July 2021, 3:10 PM
Anyone in the world

In this response to Astrid Dinneen’s letter style blog published here in February, bilingual baby daughter Elise shares her experiences of being raised in two languages. Bonus material – find Elise’s top resources in her post scriptum.

Elise


Chère Maman,


I really wanted to write to you in response to your letter to me where you discussed your first steps as a bilingual mum.


I’ve definitely noticed you and Daddy don’t always speak to me and others in the same language. From what I’ve observed Daddy always speaks in English and when you and I are alone you speak to me in French. When Daddy is around you speak in English or sometimes a mixture of both French and English. When we leave the house you continue to speak to me in French but then speak in English with most people we bump into or meet - mind you sometimes it’s hard to make out what language you’re speaking when you wear a mask that covers your mouth. You do speak French with other people than me I’ve noticed. For example, you have regular conversations with Mamie* over WhatsApp. I’ve also heard you speak French with a couple of mums we met through our baby group. As for neighbours, friends and family – they stood in the front garden and waved through the window but I’m sure you and Daddy both spoke to them in English. I wonder if we’ll ever have French-speaking visitors one day and if they’ll be allowed to come in and play with me.


One mum asked how I was coping with both my languages. I suppose it might all sound confusing to some but it’s in fact all normal to me. I’ve never known life in one language only and I see you’re constantly navigating between both French and English so it must be quite normal for you too. Is this why you frowned when you completed this year’s census? ‘What is your main language?’ they asked. ‘This is the language you use most naturally. For example it could be the language you use at home' they explained. The choices were ‘English’ or ‘Other’. You and I don’t have a main single language, do we? From what I’ve gathered it’s perfectly possible for someone to use more than one language naturally depending on who they speak to, where and for what purpose. If I grow up to become a statistician one day, I’ll suggest the survey allows you to check both English and Other.


Unlike the census, I sense people around us recognise both our main languages as being equally important. For example in the beginning Daddy didn’t use any French but I’m increasingly noticing his attempts to use words and phrases linked to our routine and he knows a surprisingly wide range of animal names including the word for my seahorse bath toy (hippocampe). I guess repetition and active listening are helping babies and grownups alike. Some mums also show an interest and say hello to me in French. Mamie is learning English in her spare time and my cousins are learning French at school. Your friend from work also lent us French board books from the resources centre at EMTAS after she read your letter to me. This all makes me feel very good because it shows me that both my languages are highly valued by my important people as well as by other, friendly people. It would mean a lot to me if everyone around me continued to be so supportive because I think it will help me feel confident to be a bilingual baby.


Lately I heard you talk about returning to work and going to nursery. I have a feeling I’ll be the one going to nursery and you’ll be the one going to work, meaning we’ll probably no longer be spending all of our time together. As I write this letter, we haven’t yet been allowed to visit the nursery or meet anyone in person because of the virus so I’ve no idea if my bilingual experience will continue when you and I are apart. If everyone at nursery speaks English all the time like I suspect they will, how will this impact my language development in French? Might it mean that English will end up being my ‘main language' after all, due to reduced input in French? Is there any way you could spend time with me during the week so I don’t have to wait for evenings and weekends to hear you speak French?


Anyway, I’m off to listen to my bilingual playlist of nursery rhymes you and Daddy have put together for me. I love how all the animals get into mischief no matter what language you sing!


Bisous,


Elise
 


*Grandma
 


Astrid carefully considered Elise’s compelling case and will return to work at the beginning of July for four days a week – Wednesday being her day off.


We look forward to welcoming Astrid back on Thursday, 8th July.


 
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PS: Elise’s top resources


In no particular order:

Bilingual Families

@minibilingue on Twitter – Conversations avec my bilingual son - love these snapshots of a bilingual little boy translanguaging in French and English. An example: ‘Pousse ta chaise away s’il te plaît !’


Crisfield, E (2021) Bilingual families, A Practical Language Planning Guide Multilingual Matters, Bristol – a handy book for mums and dads to consider their babies’ language goals and how to achieve them.


KIDIDOC (2011) Mon imagier de la ferme NATHAN, Paris – a book where I learnt French ducks go ‘coin coin' whereas English ducks go ‘quack quack'. What a world!


Donaldson, J & Scheffler, A (2015) Rabbit’s nap Macmillan, London – an epic story I equally enjoy when my Daddy reads it in English and when Maman retells it in French. Ce lapin est fatigué.


Amazon Music – 80 comptines pour enfants et bébés – a playlist which showed me some animal names are conveniently the same in both French and English, just pronounced differently e.g. elephant, crocodile, etc.


Gründ (2019) Mes premières chansons du Nord Éditions Gründ, Paris – an interactive book of songs from Northern France, a region very dear to my French family by the sound of things even though they live in the Pyrénées. Could it be that your sense of identity and belonging is more a regional than a national notion? Something to explore in another blog if I’m allowed to hijack it again in the future!

[ Modified: Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 11:22 AM ]
 
Anyone in the world

In this blog, Cristina Mitchell, Romanian-speaking Bilingual Assistant at Hampshire EMTAS, reflects on how technology has evolved and the positive impact it has had on her recent work with schools during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Cultural Presentation


What do you think your children would say if you were to tell them that you did not use any electronic devices in your childhood? They may laugh, they may feel sorry for you or they may say you lived in ancient times. It is hard to believe nowadays that it was possible to live that way. But it is real that we lived very different times. Some may argue life was good and some may not understand how someone can live without a phone or a tablet. It is for each of us to choose and decide how the technology has helped us in life. Has the use of technology made your life easier and more complicated at the same time? Have you got concerns that our children, who are growing up with technology, will become tech-savvy or more robots than humans? It is human nature to worry and look at the negatives, but I like to look at technology as incredibly helpful in my life journey.


I grew up in a world of books, playing outdoors, practising sports and talking to people face to face. Until I was 14, we had only watched TV for 10 minutes on Saturdays (Tom and Jerry cartoons), as under communism, my home country, Romania, would only broadcast 2 hours a day (mostly politics). I was 14 when my father showed me a computer in his office and allowed me to play a computer game with bricks. It was not until my first year of university when I first used a computer for learning. Mobile phones appeared in my life after I graduated from university. Until then, we used to write letters to communicate with people who were not local, telegrams for something urgent, announcements in newspapers and landline phone calls and fax machines.


After I graduated from university, I started using the internet as a learning tool and to speed up and widen my communication. When I moved to the USA, I started using Yahoo messenger to keep in touch with my family back in Europe.


The impact of technology on my support to schools


Due to the pandemic, the use of technology to support my work as a Bilingual Assistant (BA) has increased dramatically over the last year.  The BA team were in the situation where we had to find ways and solutions to transfer the support offered to schools and children in a non-face to face approach, which we had never done before. Technology and online platforms have become more relevant than ever.


Moving to online support has been an interesting change for me as I love technology and I am always happy to explore innovative ways to support children. However, delivering online sessions is not for everyone. Some can stumble in using technology or can become overwhelmed by the multitude of functions. My approach has been to be patient with technology and explore as much as I can to see what it can offer and how this can have a positive impact on our support for children in schools.


In my day-to-day role, I have delivered support sessions using Zoom and MS Teams. I soon started enjoying that I can share the activities, documents and dictionaries easily and that the support sessions can become highly interactive, using some other functions, such as whiteboard and drawing in different programmes and video and audio sharing.


In normal times, I used to work with children on creating Cultural Presentations, which we would then co-deliver to the class. With the help of technology, the lockdown did not stop me from doing this. Using Zoom or Teams, I was able to help children prepare the presentation and then we were able to co-deliver the presentation, using one of the online platforms. The PowerPoint presentations delivered on Zoom were very interactive and highly successful. Indeed, this approach can even work better for some children with EAL, who are shy to speak in front of the class, but can gain confidence if they deliver it online. In one situation, a year 3 pupil and I were sitting together in a room adjacent to the classroom. Her classmates could see us through the window and could wave to us. Sharing videos and songs was also possible. Sometimes, the WiFi connection or the phone signal in school (if using 3G or 4G) can become a problem and the delivery can suffer because of that, but these are minor issues.


There are many ups and downs of using technology, but to me this was a fantastic solution for continuing our support during lockdown and, indeed, into the future. I’ve certainly learnt that there is more good in technology than bad!


Find out more about the support available from our team of Bilingual Assistants on our website here.
 

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[ Modified: Friday, 2 July 2021, 10:32 AM ]
 
Picture of Jamie Earnshaw
by Jamie Earnshaw - Monday, 17 May 2021, 3:29 PM
Anyone in the world

In this blog, Chris Pim, Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisor, explores how technology can be used to support learners of EAL.

Talking album

Technology, when used appropriately, can enhance any pupil’s learning experience. However, technological solutions have been shown to have relatively small effect sizes in many circumstances (Hattie 2017); when used in the wrong situation, technology may even interfere with learning. It is apparent that effective use of technology is dependent on context and predicated on the notion that what works in one context may not be entirely replicable in another” (Pim, 2013). This is especially true where practitioners have the additional consideration of matching provision to the proficiency in English of their target EAL pupils.


From the perspective of learning EAL, since acquisition of English should not be the totality of a pupils learning journey, technology just used to teach English, particularly where it supplants quality mainstream provision, is best avoided. Instead, the power of technology lies in the potential for enhancing pupilswider learning; enhancing curriculum access, utilising proficiency in heritage languages, providing flexible opportunities for demonstrating learning and supporting the development of English across the curriculum.


Using technology to provide pupils with greater access to the curriculum is an obvious starting point. In order to make learning more explicit for EAL learners, to make the messages more abundant (Gibbons 2008), practitioners need to infuse their lessons with multimedia. Images, infographics, videos, podcasts, animations all enhance meaning and are essential to overcome the additional linguistic and cultural challenges EAL learners experience, whether UK born or recently arrived from abroad.


Using translation tools, either for ad-hoc communication or more academic purposes, is another useful strategy. These tools have become extremely powerful, although they still have their limitations (Pim, 2018). There are many solutions available – these range between dedicated digital devices like ECTACO products, through text-based online translation tools, to apps like SayHi that use voice recognition and the power of neural networking to provide instant translations, read aloud in authentic, synthesised speech. The camera on a portable device can be used through Google Translate to render real-time on-screen translation as well. Whilst not good enough for formal translation, these tools are genuinely useful for two-way conversations, mediated by both parties. With care, they can be used by practitioners to prepare dual-language glossaries and to communicate simple ideas in text. Pupils literate in first language, with guidance, will find them immensely useful to facilitate access to the curriculum and even as a means of providing support with translating their writing from first language into English.


There are many digital resources available to support pupilsmaintenance and development of heritage languages. Companies like Mantra Lingua have had a long association with the EAL field through their audio-enabled, multilanguage books and learning charts. Many schools will already be aware of Mantras TalkingPEN technology which provides a natural link between touch, print and sound to bring interactive learning to the user. Their Kitabu library is also an efficient delivery platform for their bilingual e-books. There are plenty of free e-books available in different languages on the web, but as always with online materials, their provenance will need to be checked. The International Childrens Digital Library is an excellent source of free texts that can be filtered in several different ways e.g. by age category and language.


pen

The importance of developing listening and speaking skills should not be underestimated, whether children are at an early stage of learning EAL or more advanced learners. EAL learners will benefit from structured approaches to develop such skills in English, building on practitioners’ understanding that children are not blank slates and carry relevant skills from their own heritage languages (Coles, Flynn & Pim n.d.).


Storytelling is a perfect opportunity for all children, whether learning EAL or not, to practise their oral skills for authentic purposes; technology can both facilitate the process as well as enable recording and playback. Children can use first language, or a combination of languages alongside English. Using tablet devices and an app like Puppet Pals HD, pupils can work independently - or collaboratively - to create digital stories from backgrounds, moving characters and a recorded narration that is eventually bound up into a movie clip. Software like Crazy Talk, Morfo and Voki allow shy children to develop oral confidence by enabling them to make a private recording and then attach it to an animated ‘avatar’ such as their face, an animal or even an inanimate object.


Technology can also help pupils to create and self-publish stories with digital elements. Book Creator, available on most platforms, enables a user to produce e-books from text, drawings, images, audio and video. Pupils can be encouraged to write independently or collaboratively, using Storybird. This free online tool, accessible from school or home, provides glorious imagery to stimulate creative writing in any language. Mantra Lingua offers another solution in the form of recordable sticky labels, TalkingPENs and a range of software for producing audio-enabled stories.


The ability to record and playback speech allows children to practise pronunciation, rehearse vocabulary and play around with chunks of language in preparation for further tasks. There are numerous portable solutions around (Talking Products and TTS-Group) such as talking tins, pegs, cards and photo albums. The latter devices are especially useful for combining text, imagery and artefacts with recorded speech as a talk-for-writing approach.


The link between understanding text and wider educational attainment has resonance for learning EAL, since pupilsreading skills are reportedly on average a year behind monolingual peers (Smith 2016). Whatever approaches schools take to address this discrepancy, practitioners need to bear in mind that learning to read is just one element woven into a rich tapestry that results in a pupils lifelong passion for reading. It is important that teaching builds upon pupilsexisting reading proficiencies in other languages, that practitioners use age-appropriate texts and capitalise on pupils’ interests through presentation of a diverse mix of texts.


There are some genuinely useful resources and technologies for enabling pupils to access texts which might ordinarily be beyond them. It is worth looking online for translated and abridged versions of typical class and course readers. Many book schemes provide texts with an audio CD such as Oxford and Cambridge graded readers. Providing an audio accompaniment for an associated text like this is a particularly useful technique. E-books offer another option, although practitioners should bear in mind that some pupils may not particularly like them, rather preferring to read an actual book. However, along with high quality audio, e-books do provide additional features such as contextualised glossaries. Print can be read aloud from paper-based sources through OCR scanning technology using a device like C-Pen; different versions of C-Pen offer additional functionality such as in-built dictionaries and translation capability. Digital text can easily be read aloud from the screen on computers and mobile devices using integrated text-to-speech software. Its also possible to look up word meanings and translation equivalents directly using online resources that interface with a users digital reader of choice. Finally, it is worth considering how to ensure that online texts are as accessible as possible to emergent readers; for example, finding appropriate sources that present information simply. There are websites like Kidrex, which assist web-safe refined searching, that do exactly that. Also consider use of Simple English Wikipedia for older learners.


dictionary pen

It is well established that children learning EAL need opportunities for explicit teaching and learning of new vocabulary across the curriculum (DfES 2006). Typically, pupils learning EAL have smaller vocabularies in English compared with non-EAL peers, a factor that has been shown, for example, to be an important predictor of reading comprehension Murphy (2015). There are numerous ICT-based tools available for reinforcing knowledge of vocabulary (in all its forms). Dual-language glossaries, supported visually, are easy to create using Widgit, something that may be useful to L1 literate pupils, as well as their parents. Quiz-based vocabularies can be created and/or sourced online from pre-built versions, via Quizlet. Plickers is a free polling tool suitable for whole class vocabulary building activities. Other games can be made using tools like Osrics Bingo Card Generator as well as a wide variety of word-definition matching activities using Formulator Tarsia software. Word clustering tools like WordArt.com help learners focus on topic words, as well as encouraging inference around the text-type and genre the words have been drawn from.

One of the biggest challenges for EAL learners is to convert their thinking and talking into writing. Some children will be ready for sustained free writing, whilst others may be limited to composing smaller chunks of text within digital scaffolds. They may choose to write in English, first language or a combination. It is worth mentioning that computers and mobile devices need to be set up specifically to enable children to interface voice and keyboard input to search, translate and write digitally in a preferred language other than English.
 
Emergent writers benefit from technologies that enable them to convey their ideas through multimedia elements and snippets of text, rather than full prose. Cartoon makers like Comic Life provide a framework in which to drop imagery, either from a device’s camera or an external file, alongside the use of text holding areas like speech bubbles and legends. An app like iMovie can be used across the curriculum to help pupils demonstrate learning in creative ways. Within iMovie, the Trailer feature offers different storyboard templates across a range of genres, encouraging pupils to edit default text with their own short, snappy version to accompany the visuals. Adobe Spark Video is another tool for producing annotated movies. This app allows a user to record an audio narration and build up a storyboard using copyright-free imagery, but interestingly, once again, deliberately constrains writing to short sentences.
 
There are many digital writing tools available for more cohesive writers. These take the form of dedicated supportive word processors such as Book Creator and Clicker Docs as well as plugin software keyboards like Texthelp’s read&write and Grammarly. Traditional supports in digital writing tools like spelling and grammar checks will of course be useful, but only when children are explicitly taught the conventions of red and green underlining. Integrated thesauri will also help those pupils with a strong enough lexical knowledge to make sensible choices between synonyms. Newer features like predictive text assist pupils with word choice, both within and between words. They can also hear back what they have written via text-to-speech synthesis, a feature which can help some users spot their errors more easily. A user can also shortcut typing via the speech-to-text listening capability of the operating system; an easy way for pupils who are not confident in their use of keyboards to render digital text through natural speech. Clicker Docs has an additional feature where topic word banks can be imported from online repositories, enabling easy access to context-related subject glossaries.
 
To conclude, it is worth considering what networking tools are available for busy practitioners to keep up to date and access additional guidance from the wider community of EAL professionals. One idea is to register for the EAL-Bilingual Google group. Following organisations and professionals on Twitter and tweeting around the #EAL hashtag is another great idea. Curating apps like Pinterest and Pearltrees offer a cornucopia of relevant content when searched for relevant terms such as a ‘EAL’ and ‘ELL’. Finally, subscribing to relevant blogs is a useful way to keep up to date with current thinking.
 
This blog first appeared in the EAL Journal, Spring 2020.


References:

Coles S., Flynn, N. & Pim, C. EAL MESHGuide. Accessed 2.1.20
http://www.meshguides.org/guides/node/112?n=119

Department for Education and Skills (DfES) (2006) Excellence and Enjoyment: learning and teaching for bilingual children in the primary years. Unit 2 Creating the learning culture: making it work in the classroom. London DfES.

Gibbons, P. (2008). Challenging pedagogies: More than just good practice? NALDIC Quarterly, 6(2), 4-14.

Hattie, J. (2017). Backup of Hatties Ranking list of 256 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement
https://visible-learning.org/backup-hattie-ranking-256-effects-2017

Murphy, V. (2015) Assessing vocabulary knowledge in learners with EAL: Whats in a word? NALDIC Conference.

Pim, C. (2013) Emerging technologies, emerging minds: digital innovations within the primary sector. In G. Motteram (Ed.), Innovations in learning technologies for English language learning (pp. 17-42). London. British Council.
 
Pim, C. (2018, June 12). Arent digital translation tools only useful for keywords? [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://emtas.hias.hants.gov.uk/blog/index.php?entryid=18


Smith, N. (2016, September 26). Reading comprehension is the key to accessing the curriculum. [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://naldic.org.uk/httpsealjournal-org20160927reading-comprehension-is-the-key-to-accessing-the-curriculum

Useful websites:

EAL-Bilingual Google group - https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/eal-bilingual

EMA/EAL related Blogs: https://naldic.org.uk/professional-learning-cpd/links/blogs-news-resources

Mantra Lingua - https://uk.mantralingua.com

Talking Products - https://www.talkingproducts.com/educational-resources.html

TTS-Group - https://www.tts-group.co.uk/primary/computing-ict/speaking-listening

Scanning Pens - http://www.dictionarypen.com

The International Childrens Digital Library - http://en.childrenslibrary.org

Widgit - https://www.widgit.com/products/widgit-online/dual-language.htm

Formulator Tarsia - http://www.mmlsoft.com/index.php/products/tarsia

Osric’s Bingo card Generator - https://osric.com/bingo-card-generator

Plickers - https://get.plickers.com

WordArt.com - https://wordart.com/

Crazy Talk - https://www.reallusion.com/crazytalk

Voki - https://www.voki.com

Comic Life - https://plasq.com

Storybird - https://storybird.com

Grammarly - https://www.grammarly.com

Book Creator - https://bookcreator.com

Read&Write - https://www.texthelp.com/en-gb/products/read-write 


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[ Modified: Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 3:22 PM ]
 
Anyone in the world

In this blog, Lauren Atkins, EAL Champion at St Peter’s Catholic Primary in Waterlooville, writes about her experience working towards and achieving the Bronze EAL Excellence Award.


Validated

Back in May 2020, thick into Lockdown, even before Years R, 1 and 6 returned or ‘live’ teaching was compulsory, I sat at my desk at home, waiting nervously to join a Zoom call. The accumulation of 8 months of hard work had come to this; a validation meeting which I had to join via my mobile, with two people (one of whom I hadn’t met), under the constant concern that one or both of my children would make an entrance at some point with something inappropriate to say. Thankfully, this moment – before the meeting started – was the scariest, most problematic of the entire journey to achieving the EMTAS EAL Excellence Award at Bronze level! The rest was, thankfully, incredibly straight-forward.


I assumed the role of EAL Champion in the September after completing my NQT year. I’d always had an interest in everything that would fall under the inclusion agenda; anything which could help to identify and overcome the barriers some children face when it comes to their learning. And so I was thrilled to relieve my SENDCo of the responsibility and to have the opportunity to really make a difference to many children - many, many children in fact, as our school, St Peter’s Catholic Primary in Waterlooville, has the highest percentage of pupils speaking English as an Additional Language in the area.


Of everything handed over to me by the SENDCo, hands down the most valuable piece of information was the email address of the EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisor for our area - in my case, Chris Pim. After our very first meeting, I was set up to be able to access the EMTAS Moodle, I had a clear view of what the EAL Excellence Awards were, what would contribute to ‘evidence’ and how to record it.


I was also given access to the EMTAS e-learning. My first stop was the ‘Role of the EALCo’ training and it was an absolute nerve-saver! In particular, the action planning section of the training left me feeling clear (not only on the responsibilities of the role but how to be successful), in control and with an easy-to-follow, albeit reasonably sizeable list of things to do – exportable as a PDF nonetheless!


I’m definitely a scribble on a paper-copy kind of person and the EAL Excellence Award Criteria Reference Sheet became my new best friend, annotated with what we were already achieving, what we could do to achieve another or who I would need to meet with (usually the Head Teacher or the Business Manager) in order to clarify.


Throughout this, I should say, that I was lucky in that I had a portion of my PPA time every other week dedicated to all things EAL as well as release time once a half term. I appreciate that I was more fortunate than most in terms of dedicated time.

Along the journey, I dipped in and out of various training modules as I needed them. I wouldn’t always complete them in one go but found it useful to revisit and complete them when it suited. For instance, before typing up a Hints and Tips Sheet for distributing to Class Teachers, I completed the Teaching and Learning training. The EAL:SEND training I completed with a specific child in mind, both to help me internalise things but also to provide meaningful guidance to a real-life conundrum.

Anyway, I’m very pleased to say that my school is now working officially at Bronze level, on our way to Silver. In addition, I am thoroughly enjoying developing an area of expertise and raising the profile of EAL in our school community. Long may the benefits of the EAL Excellence Awards be felt!  


Congratulations to Lauren and St Peter’s Catholic Primary for achieving the Bronze Award!

 
For more information about the EMTAS EAL Excellence Award, please see this page on our Moodle.


For more information about our e-learning modules, please see this page on our Moodle.


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[ Modified: Monday, 10 May 2021, 11:19 AM ]
 
Picture of Jamie Earnshaw
by Jamie Earnshaw - Monday, 19 April 2021, 3:17 PM
Anyone in the world

In this blog, four reviewers on initial teacher training pathways at the University of Chichester provide feedback on the Hampshire EMTAS 'Big Ideas' App. The app is designed to offer a snapshot of all the significant issues related to working with learners of EAL and their families, with links and suggestions for further reading. The app also gives users the opportunity to produce an action point list which can be printed or copied for further editing.

Big Ideas Front

Big Ideas in EAL is an app designed to be used in schools containing a huge amount of information in one, easy to use area.  The simplicity of the design and clear layout belies the huge breadth and depth of information held within. It is easily accessible and the process of finding relevant information and ideas within each section is straightforward.


We felt overwhelmingly that this is an excellent resource for all school staff but especially NQTs and RQTs. For new teachers, the Teaching and Assessment and the Strategies and Resources sections have particularly valuable links that will be useful when thinking about lack of experience when working with children with EAL. The section on setting targets is also extremely useful, particularly with the links provided. This app would also benefit anybody in the teaching profession, especially those with little experience of teaching children with EAL, for example in a small village school, who may suddenly find themselves in a position where they have to. It would also benefit TEFL teachers.


The strategies and resources section would be ideal for lesson planning and teaching and we found the pedagogy section is especially useful: clear and concise, it does not assume any knowledge but is not patronizing either. The links to other pages and embedded documents are an excellent resource and save so much time. It’s great that you can make a list and then easily print it off, giving it to a TA perhaps. It is useful that you can save ideas for later (with the lightbulb) and print certain sections. We particularly liked the links that were in the cultural factors section, such as the TEACHING CULTURALY DIVERSE STUDENTS: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TEACHERS which gave useful information how as a teacher you could provide an inclusive environment for children with EAL.


We thought it was important that wider school life and understanding has been brought into the EAL training – e.g. safeguarding / learning environment / pedagogy / SEND and EAL – and that, in particularly the safeguarding/SEND sections, there are other things to think about which may not occur to some at first, e.g. other things on top of EAL to be aware of. This was really valuable. It might be useful to have a section with quotes from children with EAL as to what they find/found most helpful in schools, what they enjoy/ed or benefit/ed most from. Their point of view may vary per child, but it would be interesting to have examples.


We liked that the homepage is colour-coded (e.g. red for strategies and resources / yellow for teaching and learning) as it makes it much clearer when navigating your way around the information. A couple of us found the white text on a black background a little hard to read and wondered if black on white would be visually more inclusive, or perhaps using warmer colours like turquoises and purples for the background or font. Using a big arrow pointing left to indicate "go back" rather than the words would be simpler, and the writing in the app in general would benefit from being a bit bigger as it is quite hard to read on a mobile phone screen. The symbols depicting each help section, e.g. links (spider diagram), ideas (lightbulb), print (printer!) are clear and these quick representations lighten the mental load when you are looking for something in a hurry. The hand-drawn illustrations are a nice personal touch.


We all liked the periodic table idea but did wonder about its relevance to EAL. However, it does provide a clear layout and we liked the coherence of the overall scheme. For example, when you click on a link e.g. Cd for Cultural Diversity, the same colour is used for the border, as well as the symbol ‘Cd’ and the full title, which ties together nicely. 


Gillian Roe (University of Chichester Academy Trust, School Direct)
Sarah Southey (University of Chichester Academy Trust, School Direct)
Sarah Green (The Bay, School Direct)
Alexandra Foster (Bishop Luffa, School Direct)


Many thanks to the trainee teachers for the feedback on the app. Watch this space for updates!


For more information about the Big Ideas App, and to access it, please visit the EMTAS Moodle


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[ Modified: Wednesday, 21 April 2021, 10:45 AM ]
 
Anyone in the world

In Diary of an EAL Mum, Eva Molea shares the ups and downs of her experience bringing up her daughter, Alice, in the UK. In the latest instalment, at the end of Lockdown 3, Eva reflects on Alice’s first 6 months in secondary school.


Last time I delighted you - my affectionate readers - with my comments on Alice’s education, we had just started Year 7 and barely managed to get through all the set-up steps needed for Alice to be a well-functioning secondary school student. Let’s recap some key points:


Uniform hunt: by the end of September, we had all the right bits and pieces, and Alice was a pro at doing her tie. We had seen some additions to the full array, like the embroidered cardi (that Alice had never worn because it was too uncomfortable under the school blazer), a V neck navy sleeveless jumper (that Alice had worn only once because she was afraid of being laughed at by other children) and different styles of hats, scarves and gloves to brave the morning chill. Obviously, during lockdown, she had a growth spurt, so we have been on a trousers-hunt again. On most websites, her size was sold out, but I managed to get a pair from the school second-hand uniform shop. That is a good starting point to get spares or items needed for a short time (and short it will be this time, as Easter holidays are just a few days away), and it supports the school finances!

                     apps


Apps: In September, I had drunk many cups of tea to get all my apps up and running, and I am proud to say that I was on top of everything. Since the beginning of Lockdown 3, camomile has become a permanent fixture in our cupboard. More than once we had issues with logging on to the learning platform or getting into the Zoom lessons. Nothing that a bit (= a lot) of perseverance and a phone call to the school could not fix. The school has been very understanding, and the Reception Ladies should get a bonus for their unlimited patience. When things were getting too slow for the three of us to be able to work at home, my husband agreed on a WiFi upgrade (the broadband market offers many solutions, it only requires a little time to look at them), which helped a lot. To ease the traffic on the band, sometimes I still had to tether from my mobile phone or, even better, stop working for a couple of hours and read a book instead. Which was a treat! (One of the advantages of working part-time!)


Besides the normal challenges that any newbie secondary school parents/carers and children would have faced, lockdown has put some more hurdles on our path. But every cloud has a silver lining and there are some positive outcomes as well. I have asked Alice to give her views on a few points:


Technology:


Alice: During lockdown, having my own laptop has been great because we all needed a device to work on. The WiFi has been a bit up and down, but since the upgrade we have been fine. I have learnt how to use different conferencing software, like Zoom, and have improved my presentation skills with PowerPoint. Now I know how to scan and print from my phone or laptop and I have found some nice apps that allow me to draw on my tablet.


Eva: Alice has become very independent with the use of technology, and this is a life skill that will always be handy. Devices have eventually evolved from portable TVs to multipurpose objects: from attending her lessons to dancing, and from chatting with her bunch of friends to online gaming. Alice has improved her ability to use the online bilingual dictionary and thesaurus (we use wordreference.com, which comes also as an app), to research online and to check reliable websites (we have used many of the free resources for distance learning available on the EMTAS moodle). We have discussed online safety and I have reviewed my parental controls on all her devices. Without being too intrusive, I have regularly asked her what she is doing online and who she is playing with. So far, everything seems to be under control. In case you need guidance, here is the EMTAS booklet on safeguarding available in different languages.
 
Homework:


Alice: Before lockdown, the amount of homework was just right, but sometimes I struggled to find it because it was not always listed on the homework platform. During lockdown, we have had hardly any homework, apart from Science, which was always posted there. I enjoy doing projects, like the maracas I made for Mum in D&T. I find it easier to complete homework which can be printed out and done on paper or which involves some creativity.


Eva: Homework is still a mystery to me. Coming from a different schooling system, I expected that from Year 7 students would consistently get homework for every subject, but I have not seen this happen yet, especially during lockdown. When it is time for the daily homework, my life – and I am sure I can speak for most parents – would become much easier if all homework were to be consistently listed on the homework platform, and that no homework was marked optional as this label usually leads to useless arguments always ending with a grumpy child.
 
Screen time:


Alice: Probably, we have had a lot of screen time, especially during self-isolation and lockdown, but our generation spends a lot of time in front of a screen anyway.


Eva: To be honest, during lockdown I found it very hard to get the right balance of screen time, especially when everything was taking place online. Looking at the parental controls, we have noticed that some weeks Alice has been on her laptop for over 40 hours (more than a full-time employee), which included schoolwork, extra-curricular activities, chatting with friends and watching movies. In these peculiar times, as long as she respected the rules that we had given her, it was fine by me – but a bit less by my husband, who would send me to the front to fight the perennial battle on screen time. Why do I always have to play the mean one?
 
Physical activity:


Alice: At school I really enjoy playing sports with my friends. I had started to play netball as an after-school club, which I really liked as it is a team sport. During lockdown, I attended my PE lessons on Zoom and have been out walking with Mum when I had to, but I did not enjoy one bit the remote PE classes because I missed the happy atmosphere of the school and being with my friends. Not having to get up at 6.30am was great, and I got to sleep one more hour every day.


Eva: The words “physical activity” made Alice feel sick. I literally had to drag her (and my husband) out of the house. I even offered to pay her for every time she went for a walk. She is none the richer... Fortunately, the school changed the plan for PE, so one class was on Zoom and one was to be any outdoor activity that could be recorded on the school’s private Strava profile. They even awarded house points for every km done, and family members’ kms counted towards the house points too. Alice considered suggesting that I took her phone out for a walk, so that she could get the points, but thought better of it :D
 
Mental health:


Alice: In the last three months, I have had some ups and downs. I felt very lonely and sometimes demotivated to do anything. But I am very happy to get back to school. I believe I have grown up a little during lockdown and become more responsible. My worries have grown too. Normally, despite the amount of revision I do, school tests make me very anxious, and this happened even during lockdown. Now, I worry also about how other people might see me. Spending break times with my Mum, as well as having lunch together also with Dad, has helped make me feel less lonely. Mum even did some PE lessons online with me. During morning breaks we played games, as well as drawing, dancing, and having a snack. Food has been a highlight in our house during lockdown. We have been experimenting a lot in the kitchen.


Eva: Lockdown 1 and 3 have probably been the most surreal times in the life of most people, mine too. But they have also given me the luxury to spend so much time with Alice, that normal life would have never allowed for. We played many different games, some language based like Taboo, as well as digging out our art box and giving different things a go. I bought Alice several information books, covering mental health for teenagers, politics and philosophy for beginners (all published by Usborne), to stimulate her to read information books as well as fiction, and we discussed things in Italian, so she has acquired a lot of new vocabulary. I always praise her for her amazing abilities in both languages and have noticed that this makes her feel proud of herself. The important thing for me was to make sure she knew I was there for her. We have had a lot of small chunks of quality time together, and a solid routine, which gave Alice consistency throughout lockdown.


books
 
New skills:


Alice: Lockdown has had some good effects too. My table manners have gone back almost to Mum’s high standards, which is nice. Mum has given all the family the challenge to be able to speak some Spanish by December 2021, so we are all learning a new language on Duolingo. I have improved my cooking and baking skills and am much more confident in the kitchen. On weekends, I prepare coffee with the moka (traditional Italian way of making it) for my Dad and he says it tastes good. I have learnt how to sew buttons and mend small tears. I have attempted knitting, not very successfully yet. And, I have started my pointe classes, and I love them.


Eva: Never a dull moment in our house, there is always some crafts going on. Lately, Alice’s passion is making plated bracelets, so we have bits of colourful wool everywhere. With Alice learning Spanish at school, to encourage her language skills, I set a challenge for all the family using an app. Needless to say, constant encouragement and reminding are needed… We have made sourdough, so Alice has been cooking and baking, following traditional Italian recipes. It is a miracle we have not become more large than tall…
 
Getting back to school in Covid 19 times:


school bag


Alice: Coronavirus worries me quite a lot, but I am confident that the school will do everything they can to protect us. We need to follow the rules so we will not have to stay at home again for another lockdown. It has been explained to me how the testing works and it does not worry me much, even if it is disgusting. I am only afraid I might go too deep in my throat with the swab when doing it on my own, as when I had to take the Covid 19 tests, Mum or Dad did it for me.


Eva: Since the beginning of the school in September, we have experienced self-isolation because of Alice being a close contact of a friend who tested positive and also during lockdown 3, because I tested positive. The fact that we both had very mild symptoms has lifted some of her worries about the effects of the virus. We found it beneficial to stop listening to the news 24/7 because this was worrying her unnecessarily. We made sure that, at all times, we were compliant with the Government guidance, we explained to Alice what she could do (e.g. see one friend outdoor for some exercise) and what she should do (hand, face, space), provided her with all the necessary items (masks, hand gel, tissues, antibacterial wipes) anytime she went out and crossed our fingers that everything would be just fine.
 
In a couple of days, Alice will be back at school (she has already packed her bag and prepared her uniform), I will be back at work (I have packed my bag ready for my first school, including my badge) and my husband (who has helped pack both our bags) will enjoy himself, being the undisturbed king of the house. But only for a few hours... 


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[ Modified: Friday, 26 March 2021, 2:39 PM ]