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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 ]
 
Picture of Jamie Earnshaw
by Jamie Earnshaw - Monday, 22 February 2021, 11:27 AM
Anyone in the world

In this letter to her new born daughter, native speaker of French and Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisor Astrid Dinneen reflects on her first steps as a parent raising her baby bilingually.

For Elise

Ma chère Elise,

Did you notice the different patterns and music of the languages spoken at home when you were still tucked into my tummy? Perhaps you recognised they were from different classes of language a couple of days after you were born. You see, your daddy speaks to you in English and I mostly speak to you in French, switching to English or a mixture of French and English when your daddy is within earshot in order to include him in our chitchat.

Long before you were born we always knew we would raise you bilingually – not quite strictly using the ‘one parent, one language’ (OPOL) approach where I would solely use French and your father English when around you. This method simply wouldn’t suit our family unit where - so far - I’m the only speaker of French and where English is the only language that everyone has in common. Instead we’ll use our own flexible approach where you’ll see me dip in and out of French and English and perform a lot of translanguaging.

Mixing languages didn’t use to be recommended as it was understood it confused children however advice is changing around this practice which is pretty common in multilingual households. So, rather than being brought up by two seemingly monolingual parents, you will grow up witnessing bilingualism in action in a dynamic, dual language environment where either French, English or sometimes a mixture of both will be spoken, read and written depending on context and audience – something I hope will help model how you too can use the whole repertoire both your languages have to offer.

This is all nice and well however you should know I suffer from a mild case of language attrition. You see, when you’ve lived in a country other than your own for as long as I have and speaking your first language only occasionally you become a little rusty – the words fail to roll off your tongue, you stumble and you fall mid sentence in a mess of grammatical approximations and incomplete idioms. This isn’t helped by the fact there is no cohesive local French speaking community that I know of hence the opportunities to regularly chat with compatriots are somewhat lacking, especially during a pandemic when even your French family is unable to travel and see us. This is definitely a concern when you think about how much input in French you’ll need to even have a chance to acquire it. But what a beautiful opportunity you’ve given me – the chance to reconnect with a language, identity and culture I am determined to pass on to you.

Talking to you in French all the time offers me much needed practice and reassuringly the words eventually come to me naturally even though false friends occasionally trip me up in my sleep deprived state. For example, the term bib in English is very close to the French word for baby bottle (biberon or bibi for short) hence why you often hear me use these words interchangeably! I’m sure you’ll soon join your daddy in making fun of my slipups but these will make superb opportunities for unpicking quirks and comparing our languages – a process which will soon become familiar to you as your metalinguistic awareness develops (that’s grownup for your awareness of how languages work).

Singing to you in French is a lot of fun and is great for repetition, rhyme and rhythm and you particularly love my rendition of Alouette. I’m rediscovering long forgotten songs and nursery rhymes. I’m discovering new ones too including translations of popular English classics such as The wheels on the bus. Interestingly, in French, the mums on the bus don’t chat, they say chut (shush) straight after the line where the babies cry. Can you guess why the translator made this choice? Have you also noticed how the body parts in Heads, shoulders, knees and toes are in a different order in French so it still rhymes? I’m sure translation will soon become another subject of conversation in our home and you’ll soon discover the skilful way we sometimes have to manipulate language and adapt text to suit our purposes (the metalinguistic awareness I’ve already mentioned will help you do just that).

Practitioners in pre school and school settings may consider you as EAL when they eventually get to work with you. This is such a big umbrella term however and children with EAL have varying experiences which lie on a wide spectrum. You will definitely receive a language diet that is different from your peers raised only in English. However, your exposure to French won’t be comparable to that of children born in an exclusively French speaking household either as their input in French will naturally be greater than yours. You will no doubt sit somewhere in the middle with skills and qualities developed through your exposure to two identities, ways of thinking and speaking.

Will you have a preferred language when interacting with us at home or outside the house? Will this change when you start school? Will you tap into both languages to express yourself in the same utterance? Will you be happy to use French in front of non French speakers? Will you enjoy talking about how our languages work? Will translation interest you? Your development of language will be truly unique and one no one can really predict. One thing is for sure though – it’s how grateful I am ma chère Elise for putting French back into my life in addition to being the best thing that’s happened in 2020.

Bisous,

Maman


NB: Astrid is still on maternity leave. 


References:

Babies, First words – Netflix, April 2020

What is translanguaging? – EAL Journal https://ealjournal.org/2016/07/26/what-is-translanguaging/amp/

How to plan for a bilingual baby? [English edition] – Kletsheads, a podcast with Eowyn Crisfield  https://kletsheadspodcast.nl/2020/06/30/how-to-plan-for-a-bilingual-baby-english-edition/

Advice for parents and carers in our guidance library https://emtas.hias.hants.gov.uk/course/view.php?id=64 


Visit the Hampshire EMTAS website

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[ Modified: Monday, 22 February 2021, 4:27 PM ]
 
Anyone in the world

In this blog, Rosie Cayless, EAL Coordinator at Fernhill School, writes about her experience working towards and achieving Silver in the EMTAS EAL Excellence Award.

                                    Fernhill EXA

























I was really keen to gain the EAL Excellence Award Level Silver for Fernhill School but, like everyone else, had no idea when I would have the time to actually do the work needed for this. Claire Barker from EMTAS visited me and went through the different criteria suggesting I could make a folder with all of my evidence and then fill in the online form too, but in less detail, as the documentation was in the folder. This galvanised me into action!

I decided to break the tasks down into ones that I knew as a school we were achieving, but needed to evidence (e.g parental engagement), and ones that required action to bring us up-to-date, such as CPD. 

We arranged an EAL training session for NQTs (led by Claire) and opened it up to NQTs from other schools, which was well-received; we had a cosy pre-Covid roomful of over 30 teachers!

Some areas required a lot of detailed recording such as doing the Bell Foundation EAL profiles for selected students, while others could be demonstrated with photographs from events such as our Global Fair. The more evidence I collected, the more enjoyable it became. 

I would say that the whole process increased my sense of job satisfaction; it was rewarding to examine all aspects of EAL provision and ask: ‘Are we doing the best for our students and their families and what can we improve?’ One of the most useful aspects of undertaking the challenge was to completely re-write our school’s EAL policy, which underpins our whole approach and proved to be a vital part of our application. And the most enjoyable was collating examples of some of the wonderful writing Fernhill students have done in their first language.

The moderation visit was conducted by Astrid Dineen - it was very thorough, one could even say rigorous! But by the end of the (lengthy) session, no stone was left unturned and I was left feeling hopeful that we would gain the award. 

It was great to receive the email with the shiny Silver Award logo attached, Astrid sending congratulations as well as encouragement to go for the Gold Award next time!


Congratulations to Rosie and Fernhill School for achieving the Silver Award!


To find out more about the Hampshire EMTAS EAL Excellence Award, visit our website and our Moodle


Visit the Hampshire EMTAS website

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[ Modified: Tuesday, 5 January 2021, 1:50 PM ]
 
Picture of Jamie Earnshaw
by Jamie Earnshaw - Friday, 27 November 2020, 1:11 PM
Anyone in the world

In this blog, Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors Lisa Kalim and Sarah Coles discuss current thinking in the cross-over territory where EAL and Dyslexia meet.

wordle

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a specific learning difference that falls under the umbrella term “neurodiversity”.  It is thought to affect around 10% of the population, cutting right across the range of abilities.  

It is known that different people with dyslexia experience it in different ways.  Although in the past dyslexia was often viewed as a barrier to learning, these days it is accepted that there are positives to thinking differently and many dyslexic people are now recognised for their strengths in areas such as reasoning, problem-solving, oral skills and in visual and creative fields.  

According to the British Dyslexia Organisation, “as each person is unique, so is everyone’s experience of dyslexia”, thus every child with dyslexia will have a different blend of strengths and weaknesses.  In school the focus on an academic curriculum can cause some children difficulties in certain areas such as:

  • memory

  • organisation

  • processing

  • phonological awareness

  • reading, writing and spelling

  • self esteem.

Some people may experience only mild impacts whilst others may experience much more significant difficulties across multiple areas – which may be more noticeable in a classroom setting.  


Does dyslexia exist in other languages?

Yes, it does.  Research suggests that its impact in terms of difficulties children with dyslexia may face may be more pronounced in some languages than others.  This is to do with transparency (NALDIC, 2020).   Some languages are more transparent than others ie the relationship between phonemes (units of sound) and graphemes (written symbols that represent phonemes) is more straightforward in some languages than in others.

  • More transparent languages include Italian, Spanish, Kannada and German.  The relationship between sound and symbol is consistent.

  • More opaque languages include Tamil, English and French. In these languages, it is more difficult to predict spellings and pronunciation because the relationship between sound and symbol is not consistent.


Transparent - OpaqueFigure 1: Continuum showing the approximate degree of transparency of various languages (NALDIC, 2020)


Language and features

Figure 2: Approximate relative transparency of different languages & features which may present difficulties for learners with dyslexia (NALDIC, 2020)


What about languages that are not alphabet-based?

Some languages don’t use an alphabet eg Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese and Korean.  In Mandarin:

  • the basic speech unit is the syllable

  • the basic orthographic unit is a character

  • the rules in the sound-script correspondence in Mandarin are very different from those present in English

Mandarin and English

In addition to the above differences, Mandarin is a tonal language; a change in tone changes the meaning.  These differences apply not only to Mandarin but also to other languages that work in a similar way eg Japanese and Korean.  A dyslexic Mandarin speaker, for example, may not experience any difficulties when learning to read and write in Mandarin but may find learning to read and write in English much more challenging. 


How come English is more opaque than other languages and what does this mean for someone with dyslexia?

English is often cited as one of the most difficult languages for children with dyslexia to learn. Here are some reasons why:

  • Weak correspondence between phonemes and graphemes eg compare how ‘-ough’ is pronounced in cough, bough, tough, through and dough

  • Mapping between sound and symbol is more inconsistent in English than in most other European languages

  • In combination with weak phonological awareness and slow processing, these inconsistencies present particular difficulties for someone with dyslexia.

Here are some difficulties that someone with dyslexia may experience:

  • Reading speed can be impacted for children with dyslexia

  • Processing time may be longer – learners need to scroll through various possibilities in order to retrieve the correct phonologically assembled label. Eg similar labels (‘god’, ‘dock’, ‘bog’) need to be rejected before ‘dog’, the correct label is chosen.

It can also be the case that a child’s dyslexia is mild in their more transparent first language but more pronounced in English with the latter presenting phoneme-grapheme correspondence problems they didn’t encounter in their first language.  For instance, a Spanish-speaking child may experience only minor difficulties reading and writing in their first language as Spanish is very transparent whereas in English, a very opaque language, they may struggle more.


What does all this mean when it comes to MFL?

It is thought that more transparent languages may be easier for a dyslexic person to learn, so in school, the outcomes for a person with dyslexia may be better if they were to take Spanish or Italian then if they took French.


So how can we support children learning English as an Additional Language who also have dyslexia?

The support strategies recommended for monolingual children with dyslexia are equally relevant to children learning EAL and may include:

  • Approaches that help with self-esteem

  • School staff should consider sharing information about dyslexia with the individual child and with their parents/carers (ie that it’s a specific difficulty that affects particular areas and does not mean that the child is ‘stupid’ or cannot learn)

  • Collaborative approaches – peer support

  • Grouping – children with dyslexia should not be in the bottom group but with children of similar cognitive ability

  • Over-learning/repetition

  • Multi-sensory approaches

  • Extra time for processing eg slowing down the rate at which instructions are given and allowing more time for pupils to respond to questions

  • Limiting the amount of written work required and using alternative ways of recording information/responses to tasks set

  • Use of diagrams and visuals to assist with memorisation

  • Use of technology

        - Auto-correct in word processing software, spell checkers, predictive text

        - Speech-to-text software.  See the EMTAS Guidance Library ‘Use of ICT’ course for some suggestions of Supportive word processors and soft keyboard helper applications to try.

  • Exam concessions eg use of an amanuensis or reader

Some people think that the use of coloured overlays or different coloured paper or background colours on screen are helpful but empirical evidence for this is limited and the jury’s still out on these points.  

An individualised approach will be needed for each child with dyslexia.  Children with dyslexia who are learning English as an Additional Language will still need EAL support appropriate to the stage they have reached in their acquisition of English.  See the Bell Foundation EAL Assessment Framework for an example of an EAL-specific framework that maps progression and allows practitioners to track progress.

For further advice on individual bilingual children in your school who you’re concerned about, see the EMTAS website for a step-by-step process to follow and a downloadable, editable form for recording relevant information.


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[ Modified: Tuesday, 1 December 2020, 10:25 AM ]
 
Anyone in the world

In this blog, Dawn Tagima, Cultural Ambassador at Cherrywood Community Primary School, writes about her experience achieving Gold in the EMTAS EAL Excellence Award.

EAL Excellence Award Gold

My name is Dawn Tagima and I am the Cultural Ambassador at Cherrywood Community Primary School.

After achieving the silver Award in 2019, this April the school was delighted and very proud to be awarded the first Gold EAL Excellence Award from EMTAS. The Award was developed by the EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisory team and is an online school self-evaluation framework to help monitor the impact of provision to all EAL children.

I was introduced to the Award at one of the EMTAS Network meetings run by Claire Barker. I quickly realised that not only would it be amazing for our school to be recognised in this way, it was going to be of huge benefit to me in my role.

The Excellence Award covers 5 broad areas-

  • Leadership and Management

  • Pedagogy and Practice

  • Data, Assessment and Progress

  • Teaching and learning

  • Parental and Community Engagement

Using this framework (which has become an invaluable tool), I was able to make sure that we, as a school, were ensuring the provision we were offering was making the best impact on our children.

I was still relatively new to the role and will admit to initially feeling a little overwhelmed, especially as we have a high percentage of EAL pupils in our school, so when the Award was shown to me I thought it perhaps seemed a scary prospect and was concerned it may add to my work load BUT how wrong was I! I was able to clearly see what was needed in our school and how this could be achieved.

I made the decision to keep a file, breaking it down into the 5 areas. I was able to add photographs, pieces of work children had completed, assessments etc to use as evidence. Personally I like things in ‘paper’ form that are easy to refer to. Equally, I know of other schools that have done the whole Award online which has also worked well for them.

One of the things we worked hard on in school to move from Silver to Gold was to ensure we were encouraging our children to use their first language in the classroom.

Some examples of this were one of our Yr 6’s wrote a beautiful piece of work about Word War 1 which was proudly put on a class display in Portuguese. She was very proud of this and shared her work with her peers. Another child in Yr 2 sat and wrote out the numbers from 1 to 100 in Nepali which again was displayed in class on the maths working wall and became a real topic of conversation.

The use of first language is also shown around the school environment with ‘hello’ and ‘welcome’ signs written by the children in the entrance hallway in many different languages and a ‘changeable’ sign outside that at present says’ be happy’ written in Pashto and translated to English.

Using first language in the school/classroom environment not only embeds their first language but makes the children feel included, accepted and proud!

I was offered support from EMTAS throughout the whole process whether it be asking questions by e-mail or visits to the school to help inform me of our next steps and what we could improve on to reach our ‘goal’.

When I felt we were ready to be validated, I sent all the evidence to EMTAS and was then visited by a Specialist Teacher Advisor from another area, Astrid Dineen. I shared my file and we discussed what we were doing as a school and how we were ensuring we were embedding the best practice for our EAL learners and their families.

By using the Award as such an amazing tool, we have been able to make sure we are offering best practice in all areas but most importantly making sure we continue to do so in the future. As the school's Cultural Ambassador, I now feel so much more confident to know what this ‘best practice’ looks like which helps me in my day to day role. One of the criteria was to make a three year development plan so this is now in place to refer to and also reaching Gold has made the SLT team, the named Governor and all the teaching staff aware of what we have achieved and what we need to do moving forward. I am also carrying out observations in classes and auditing what resources are needed regularly.

Obviously we are living in a very different world at present and all our children are needing extra support to settle back in. We as a school are finding different ways to make sure our children still thrive and learn. Our EAL children have come back happy and ready to learn and we are determined this will continue!

I would encourage any school to use it. Everything is so clear and laid out for you and gives you the ability to see what you are working towards to become an ‘excellent school'!

Congratulations to Dawn and Cherrywood Community Primary School for achieving the Gold Award!

Find out more about the EMTAS EAL Excellence Award

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[ Modified: Monday, 16 November 2020, 4:36 PM ]
 
Anyone in the world

In this blog, Debra Page, PhD student at the University of Reading, shares two video updates with us on her research on the Young Interpreter Scheme


Hello readers. First of all, a huge well-done on making it through a very difficult term! 

In this first video, I update you on where I am at with my PhD research evaluating the Young Interpreter Scheme. The project is now all online and I am looking for schools to take part... 

 

 

In this second video, I talk about some new resources that I will be using during the research project: 

 

 

If you would like to be involved in the research, or have any questions, please email me: debra.page@pgr.reading.ac.uk.


We look forward to hearing more from Debra soon!


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[ Modified: Wednesday, 11 November 2020, 1:39 PM ]
 
Picture of Jamie Earnshaw
by Jamie Earnshaw - Thursday, 15 October 2020, 1:39 PM
Anyone in the world

By Lisa Kalim, Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisor.

When a school has concerns about the progress of one of their bilingual pupils, an underlying SEND is often suspected.  But how can teachers decide whether this is the case or whether the pupil is just going through the normal process of acquiring English as an Additional Language?  Lisa Kalim discusses how to tackle this tricky decision and signposts the support that EMTAS can offer.

SEND

So, you have concerns about a bilingual pupil in your class - let’s call her Agata.  She is a likeable, well behaved pupil with good social skills and a talent for sport, but her academic progress has been slower than you had expected.  You are worried that Agata will not reach the required standard by the end of the year.  You are concerned that she sometimes appears not to understand what is said in class.  Agata is very quiet and only responds to direct questions in class, usually with just a one or two-word answer.  Sometimes it looks like she has drifted off into a daydream – she seems to find maintaining her concentration difficult for longer periods of time.  She struggles to produce independent written work.  The written work that she does produce is very short, uses very simple vocabulary and contains grammatical errors.  However, you are not sure if this is just because Agata has English as an Additional Language or whether she may also have an underlying Special Educational Need/Disability.  Where should you start?

Think of the process as being a bit like doing a jig-saw puzzle but where the pieces are scattered around in different places, are mixed up with some pieces from different puzzles that you don’t need, and the box lid is missing so you don’t have the picture to help you.  You need to gather all the pieces that you need together, discount the pieces that belong to other puzzles and then you can start to put the pieces together to make the picture.  So, in relation to Agata, there are lots of pieces of information and evidence that you need to collect, some things you need to check and possibly discount, and then you can start to consider and analyse what you have found out.  Following this process will hopefully result in you being able to reach a conclusion on whether Agata could have an underlying SEND or whether her needs are just related to having EAL.  However, sometimes it is necessary to continue monitoring a pupil causing concern for a longer period before deciding, or to refer to EMTAS for help if still unsure.


Steps to take:

1.  Record the reason/s for your concerns and inform other relevant school staff such as your SENDCo.  EMTAS have developed an easy to use suggested format for doing this and recording the information/evidence described below.  It can be found here.


2.  Collect as much background information as you can about Agata.  This should include:

  • when she arrived in the UK or whether she was born here

  • information about her family background including which countries they have lived in and when

  • which language/s are spoken in Agata’s home and details of any others that she may have been exposed to in other contexts

  • any relevant medical information such as diagnosed conditions, significant illnesses, periods of hospitalisation etc. 

  • information regarding Agata’s early childhood development including whether developmental milestones were achieved at the expected times

  • details of her previous education (if any) including information on any gaps or interruptions and her levels of attainment

  • whether she has been identified as having any type of SEND by health/educational professionals in her country of origin or elsewhere and if so, gather as much detail as possible

  • whether the pupil has experienced significant trauma during her life

  • attendance data since she has been in your school

If Agata has been previously assessed by EMTAS you will find much of this information on her profile report.  You should also speak with the pupil’s parents/carers, using an interpreter if needed.  (EMTAS may be able to help with an interpreter if required – please contact our office to enquire.) This can reveal extremely useful information that you may not have been aware of previously which proves key to the decision around EAL/SEND.  Sometimes a parent/carer has crucial information but has not been able to convey it to school staff until a meeting facilitated by an interpreter takes place. 


3.  Collect evidence/information on the following:

  • Agata’s strengths and areas in need of development

  • the steps that have already been taken in meeting her needs, including teaching strategies, resources used and support for EAL. If appropriate teaching strategies and resources for learners of EAL have not been consistently used over the time that Agata has been in school in the UK then this could explain her slower rate of progress making it appear that she might have SEND when actually she may not have  

  • Agata’s current levels of achievement in English (listening, speaking, reading and writing). EMTAS recommends that you use an EAL-specific assessment tool such as the Bell Foundation’s EAL Assessment Framework to do this, available here: Bell Foundation framework.

  • Agata’s rate of progress over time in English and other curriculum areas. Include information gained from using the Bell Foundation’s EAL Assessment Framework (or other EAL-specific framework) together with the perceptions of teaching staff, pupil, parents and any other agencies involved.

  • samples of Agata’s work over time


4.  Collect information about Agata’s proficiency in her first language.  You need to know her proficiency in speaking, listening, reading and writing (if literate in first language) in as much detail as possible.  This is important as difficulties in first language can be an indicator of some types of SEND. With speaking and listening, check whether there any difficulties apparent in her speech sound pronunciation, her use of grammar and vocabulary use, as well as how fluent she is, how well she can communicate and whether she has any difficulty understanding what has been said to her.  With reading and writing it is important to know how much schooling Agata has had conducted in her first language when considering her proficiency. Remember that many countries start their formal education later than in the UK which may mean that they have had less years of schooling than their contemporaries here in which case a lower level of literacy is to be expected.  It is also important to bear in mind that pupils who were born in the UK will have had less exposure to their first language compared to their peers born in their country of origin and so may have less well developed proficiency.  Thus, it is very important to bear in mind that a lower level of first language proficiency does not always indicate an underlying SEND.


5.  Analyse all the information/evidence collected. (Try and put the pieces of the jig-saw together.)     


6.  Carefully think about whether there are other factors that could explain Agata’s perceived difficulties:

  • Is her attendance poor or has she had extended absences from school either in the UK or whilst in country of origin?

  • Has she experienced a high level of mobility during her life involving frequent moves between countries or schools?

  • Has she had exposure to multiple languages/different languages at different times during her life? (if so, she will require additional time to acquire proficiency).

  • Has she had an unnoticed problem with her eyesight, hearing or other medical problem that has affected her ability to learn?

  • Has she received appropriate EAL support in school or was it stopped too soon? 

  • Has she been placed in appropriate ability groups/sets (if used)? – EAL learners should not be placed in lower ability groups unless they are known to also have SEND.

  • Has she experienced significant trauma, bullying, racism, bereavement or difficult living situations which could have affected her learning?

  • Is she unhappy in school or about living in the UK?

  • Has there been a misunderstanding about the typical length of time required for pupils with EAL to reach equivalence with their monolingual peers, leading to you having unrealistic expectations?

  • Have tasks been set that are too academic for Agata’s current level of language proficiency?  Remember that it generally takes around two years for pupils to acquire conversational fluency in English and up to ten years to reach full academic equivalence.


7.  Based on all the above, try to decide whether Agata does have an underlying SEND or whether her needs are just related to having EAL.  It may be helpful to talk this through with a colleague such as your SENDCo.  If you are still unsure it may be that further monitoring of Agata’s progress over a longer period is needed after which it will become clearer whether she does have an underlying SEND or not.  Additional help is available from EMTAS if you need it (see below).


Help available from EMTAS:

EMTAS have a range of resources available to help you when distinguishing between EAL and SEND.

  • Our website has a section dedicated to this topic here.

  • A handy aide memoire which summarises key points around EAL/SEND (pictured at the beginning of this blog)

  • An article on standardised testing and EAL learners which discusses why such tests may not be helpful when assessing bilingual pupils.

  • Our Moodle has an e-learning module on distinguishing the difference between EAL and SEND

  • The EMTAS EAL/SEND phone line runs every Tuesday afternoon in term time from 12.00-4.00pm.  Callers can discuss individual pupils that they have concerns about and receive advice.  If necessary, a school visit can be arranged by an EMTAS Teacher Advisor.  They will then be able to assist you with assessing them and advise on any appropriate next steps.  Before calling is best to have already collected as much information/evidence about your pupil as possible as outlined above.


So, did Agata have SEND as well as EAL or not I hear you ask.  After following the steps above, Agata’s teacher concluded that she most likely did not.  Key to this decision was the collection of background information/evidence which showed that Agata had only been in school in the UK for just over three years and so would require at least another four to five years (maybe even a little more) of UK education before reaching full academic equivalence with her peers.  Additionally, assessment of her skills in first language showed a good level of proficiency for the number of years of education that she had received in her country of origin and her progress across all curriculum areas was average to above average before she came to the UK.  This suggested that SEND was unlikely.  Some of the other areas of concern were in fact quite typical features of pupils learning EAL (e.g. the grammatical errors in writing, finding sustaining concentration for long periods when working in English difficult, and not understanding some more academic language used in the classroom).  Furthermore, on reflection, her teacher decided that EAL support had probably been stopped too soon for Agata.  As a result of going through this process, Agata’s teacher was then able to put in place appropriate on-going EAL support for her.  She continued to monitor Agata’s progress and was pleased with her rate of progress going forwards. 

[ Modified: Wednesday, 16 December 2020, 10:01 AM ]
 
Anyone in the world

In Diary of an EAL Mum, Eva Molea share the ups and downs of her experience bringing up her daughter, Alice, in the UK. In the latest instalment, Eva reflects on the process of finding a secondary school for Alice. 

leap

Prequel

Just like every parent, since our lovely daughter's birth, my husband and I had made plans for her future. Plans that, obviously, did not take into account Alice’s own ideas, inclinations and desires. Don’t look at the screen with that scolding face… we all make castles in the air when our children are young, it is just natural to wish them all the happiness in the world according to the way we see it.

Having said that, when we were in Italy, we had already decided that she would have attended either the humanistic or the scientific secondary schools starting in year 9 (the Italian system is different, so children have to make a choice about their future five years in education in Year 8). But our education plans took an unexpected turn when we moved to the UK, and the choice for a secondary school comes two years earlier.

And since we are not anxious parents and leave everything to the last minute (ahahah), we started touring the schools in Year 4. So, we took our lovely little girl (aged 8) to the open evenings of 3 schools in the area, did the school tours, questioned our guides, had Alice take part in all the possible activities, sat and listened through all the Headteachers’ presentations, and went home possibly more confused than before. We looked at the prospectus of each school and then put them on the shelf. In the end, Alice was only in year 4.

We repeated the full exercise in year 5, but with just two schools - the two schools we visited the previous year which we had liked the most. We discussed with Alice these schools in detail and listened to her supporting evidence for both. Once again, the prospecti from the two schools went on the shelf, next to the ones from the previous year. In the end, she was only in year 5…


September 2019

Year 6, here we come! This was the time for us to make this very important decision for Alice’s future. I looked for guidance on Hampshire County Council’s website which had a lot of useful information about the application process. But, I still had a lot of questions: were we in the position to make an informed decision? did we really know what to look for when visiting the schools? should we have only visited the two schools we had liked in Year 4, and therefore re-visited in Year 5, or should we have explored more? It goes without saying that we decided to explore more, so we attended the open evenings of 4 schools. But we didn’t go as tourists this year. My husband and I went with our inquisitive hats on (we nearly took our notepads and question lists out… just to remind you, I was a journalist in my life pre-UK) and a strategy:

1-     Headteacher’s talk

2-     School tour visiting the the departments more interesting to us and Alice (please notice the order, which is not casual): English (me), Modern Foreign Languages (me), Maths (husband), Sciences (husband) and then Food Tech, Music, Drama, Dance, Arts and the Canteen (all Alice’s choices).

The Headteacher talks gave us an idea of the principles guiding the schools. My husband really appreciated the slides with numbers on them (being an engineer, he finds safety in numbers). I looked at the Headteachers’ attitudes and ways of talking to and of the children, their passion, the things important to them; the extra-curricular activities; the pastoral care; and listened attentively to the students’ presentations. I am not sure what caught Alice’s attention, probably her friends in the hall with us. 

Once we had gone through the hardest bit, we enjoyed the tour and were very lucky to have friendly and chatty children taking us around and willing to answer all our questions:

  • Do you like your school?

  • What is the best bit?

  • What is the worst bit? (there is always one)

  • What are your favourite subjects?

  • Are there many bullying incidents and how are they dealt with?

  • How is good behaviour rewarded?

  • Have you made many friends?

  • Do you attend any after-school clubs?

  • What are the extra-curricular activities on offer?

  • How is the food?

  • What subjects will you take at GCSE?

In each department, whilst Alice was doing the activities organised for the prospective students, we spent our time looking at the books, at the learning walls, at the resources, at the revision guides and talking to the teachers. We questioned them on the curriculum, methodology and results. If there were slides showing GCSE results from the previous years, we asked them to break them down for us and highlight any improvements. I doubt they loved us…

From each school, we came home with some good feelings and some grey areas. But at least now we had some information to reflect upon. 

I went to Alice’s current school for advice and guidance. As always, the school reassured both Alice and me, and talked us through our doubts (have I already said how amazing her school is? As a reminder, you can check the previous chapters of this diary). We left still uncertain about what would have been the best option for us, but at least we knew that we were looking at good schools, in terms of Ofsted ratings, academic results and reputation. 

We kept on talking about the secondary school choice for weeks, to the point that we were all sick of it, without reaching any decision. My husband and I had our hearts settled on different schools. Alice was in a bubble because all her school friends would be going to one school, which was next door to her current one; none of her school friends, but most of her dance friends, would be going to our catchment school, but we only hit the 8th admission criterion for that school. 

It was all still up in the air when we received a dreadful reminder from Alice’s school that we were running out of time and God only knew what would happen to late applicants! 

We needed to act quickly, so, on a bright Sunday morning on the 19th of October, I sat down with a nice cup of tea and a piece of paper, and spent my time dissecting the 4 schools. This was the result presented to my husband and Alice:

table

We ruled out school #4 because of transport and school #3 because of the walking distance and the number of friends (much less than in # 1 and 2). 

We were left with two schools, which were equally distant from home and where Alice would have had a good bunch of friends. 

I spoke to all the friends, colleagues and literally everyone I know who had children in these two schools to find out about their perspectives and their experiences and whether they were satisfied with the academic preparation and results of their kids. 

I had more information about one school, because it was the one working closely with Alice’s current one, so I contacted the other school to have an appointment with someone who could shed some light. The meeting was very informative, and I left the school a little less doubtful. 

At this point, the choice was only Alice’s. She had a dilemma (oh, how I wish all grown-ups had these kind of troubles!) because her friends from school wanted her to go to their same school or else…

To help her unravel her thoughts and to opt for one school before the deadline of the 31st of October, we looked at the GCSE offer and #1 had 10 more subjects at GCSE level than #2, including Food Tech and Dance, the ones Alice had always wanted to do (let’s review this point in 4 years’ time). We then looked at facilities, and #1 seemed a much bigger and newer school. Her mind was made up in less than 5 minutes… With my brain boiling after such an elucubration, I sat down at the computer and typed https://www.hants.gov.uk/educationandlearning/admissions/applicationprocess

I logged in and put down schools #1, #2 and #3, in this order, as preferences, and clicked submit. What a relief!

In the whole process, there were some points I really could not get my head around, such as:

  • Why are not all schools offering the same subjects? And for the same number of hours per week?

  • Why do some schools work on a 2-week timetable and some don’t?

  • If a child has a problem on the way to school, can they call the school?

  • If my catchment school is very far away, can I apply to a closer one? If not, can I get any support for transport?

  • If a child has a problem in school, who is the first port of call?

  • Is it possible to choose a specific Foreign Language or is it automatically assigned?

  • Why would some schools allow Alice to take her heritage language GCSE and some wouldn’t?

  • How does the cashless system work and how are children’s biometric information kept and used?

  • Why do some schools take GCSE options in year 9, but some others in year 8?

  • If a child changes their mind on studying a subject, could this be changed?

  • How many subjects should one take at GCSE and who decides them? 

With hindsight, besides the open evenings – which offer a great opportunity to see the full array of the subjects and activities on offer at each school – it would have been very useful if secondary schools had visited the primary ones to present themselves and allow some Question & Answer time to prospective students and their families. Unfortunately, there are some questions specific to each child which aren’t covered at open evenings. This would provide an opportunity for more detailed information to be given to students and their families, particularly those who have a different background from English, who might find it tricky to understand some aspects of the education system in the UK.

It would also be great if primary schools, knowing each child’s strengths and weaknesses, could guide the families by shortlisting a couple of schools that would be the best options for the students, with regards to their academic, social and emotional needs.   


Sequel

We waited patiently (couldn’t do otherwise), anxiously (we could have relaxed more), and excitedly (as always when an event gets closer) for the 2nd of March, the day when our future would be revealed to us. Just to keep us on our toes, the Hampshire County Council Admissions Team sent out an e-mail the week before, to check that our accounts were still active. 

On the 2nd of March, at 7.20 am, I received a text from a friend “Morning, did you get the e-mail?”. I was a bit puzzled… I had not checked my calendar and had completely forgotten!!! And there it was, that shiny little envelope on my screen, opening the doors to the so longed-for secondary school, with all its future rewards and tribulations.


September 2020

First things first: we are very lucky that our children could get back to school at the beginning of September, and a big shout out goes to all people working in education for their hard work, resilience and flexibility. You are all amazing!

Please read carefully: even without this ever-changing Covid-19 scenario, secondary school would have been a completely different universe from primary. Parents, and children, really have to up their games. All is new, all is different, and a lot of responsibilities lie on the shoulders of the students (= of their parents). So far, there has been so much to take in, and sometimes the information overload has been hard to manage. Schools have been proactive with digital technology and the Year 7 Welcome Packs are amazing, super-detailed pieces of work, but sometimes, in such a vast sea of words, the important bits can get lost – I could have really done with a bullet point summary at the end!

Things do get easier along the way, but there are some things that will need attention beforehand:

  • Uniform hunt: the number of bits and pieces needed by our children tends to be infinite, and some of them are hard to find or need to be ordered. Before the Summer break we managed to get hold of some bits, getting slightly bigger sizes to allow for a possible growth spur. We left shirts and trousers to the end of Summer, which was not very wise as we struggled to find the right sizes.

  • School bag tetris: secondary backpacks/handbags would not be allowed as hand luggage!! There's so much that needs to get in there, that Mary Poppins’ bag seems ordinary in comparison: books, pencil case, maths equipment, reading book, lunch box, water bottle, Covid-19 kit (hand gel, mask, tissues), lab coat, apron, earring tape (what?? at least this is small), drama shoes (I didn’t even know they existed)… To fill your child’s schoolbag, you need a lot of patience, their timetables, and the ability to compress solids. 

  • Login desperation: there are so many different accounts parents and children will need to get (and remember) IDs and passwords for. Do not despair!! Get a cuppa and sit down, it might take longer than you expected, but eventually you will get there. You might need more than one sitting to get on all platforms, as info comes your way in different shapes (emails, letters, casual conversations with your children) and times. Maybe just one email with all the links could have saved some time, but I quite enjoyed my cups of tea.

  • Homework (un-)awareness: one month in, and this is still a dolorous mystery to me. More or less, all secondary schools have an app (for ID and password read above) that both parents and children can (should/must) download on their smartphones. This amazing software informs about: timetable, behaviour, achievement and homework. This last tab details subject, deadline, and sometimes there is also an attachment. So, how hard can it be? It wouldn’t, if all teachers uploaded the homework there, and also if all homework could be considered due, and not optional… That would save completing pieces at 8pm the night before it is due, only to find out later on that it was optional. 

As we approach the second month of Year 7, with relief I can say that Alice has become much more confident and aware of how big school works. She has made many new friends already and all her fears of getting lost, and being late to class, have disappeared. She is really enjoying the variety, and challenges, of all her subjects, including Religious Studies, that last year used to give her tummy ache every Monday, and the extra-curricular activities offered by the school. Fingers crossed, we will happily whizz through the first years of secondary school and start our quest for the right college :D  

[ Modified: Monday, 5 October 2020, 4:24 PM ]
 
Picture of Jamie Earnshaw
by Jamie Earnshaw - Thursday, 17 September 2020, 2:55 PM
Anyone in the world

In this blog, Ranvilles Infant School’s Deputy Head Teacher Stacey Barnes discusses her school’s journey from a general reading scheme with bands and guided reading to non-colour banding books and close reading. This blog follows a workshop she presented at the 2019 Hampshire EMTAS conference where she talked about using close reading of texts to support an integrated and creative curriculum which benefits all pupils, including learners with EAL.

Close read

The rationale for using a different approach to reading that is vocabulary specific for EAL learners is supported by research which shows that many children with EAL in England and elsewhere have less vocabulary knowledge than non-EAL peers (Murphy, 2015; Hutchinson et al, 2003). Even EAL children with well-developed oral language skills and above average reading comprehension skills have been shown to have less productive vocabulary knowledge than non-EAL peers (McKendry 2013). We also know that vocabulary is a strong predictor of reading comprehension and with children starting primary learning to read but finishing primary reading to learn it is crucial to address problems with reading comprehension which may exacerbate the achievement gap between EAL and non-EAL peers in specific sub-groups.


What is close reading?  

Here is a definition:

Close reading is the careful, sustained interpretation of a brief passage of a text. A close reading emphasizes the single and the particular over the general, effected by close attention to individual words, the syntax, the order in which the sentences unfold ideas, as well as formal structures (Wikipedia).

It also uses language in context and is key to exploring language, playing and having fun. We have found it benefits a wide range of children including EAL learners and is useful for all children.

Some examples of close read we have used are instructions for making sushi, instructions for making puppets, passages from a fictional text based on the Titanic and basically anything that supports our integrated curriculum and can provide a cross curricular link to reading. In this video example, the children revisited the theme of 3D shapes and reinforced their understanding of different shapes through a short poem.

Close read is distinct from guided reading as one text is used with one mixed ability group. This benefits EAL pupils as children should not be denied access to texts because of their current proficiency in English and this method exposes EAL pupils to a wide variety of reading materials.   Close read links to the whole curriculum really well, including subjects like Maths/DT/Art, helping to develop reading in every subject.  Close read is not specific to English. Close read also capitalises on practitioner:peer relationships, using peers and adults as a positive model of talk. We have also found the practice to be very inclusive.

Practically we manage close reading by creating mixed ability groups of up to 6 children with an adult, usually within the mainstream classroom. This obviously aligns to best practice for EAL pupils.  Close read also allows for pre and post learning for a topic; this can be vital for an EAL pupil.  Working with parents may also be something to capitalise on, by sending home close reads or putting them on Tapestry or other learning platforms for parents to access.  Explanation in a home language and preparing and talking around the specific text for the child may be extremely beneficial prior to the actual close read.

Above all, a close read allows for exploring language and vocabulary and this is essential – the whole reading and writing flow on a sea of talk analogy. It allows for message abundancy (Gibbons, 2008) and explicit content learning.

Around a close read many activities could be undertaken such as pre talk in the first language, drama activities exploring the language or Directed Activities Related to Texts (DARTs), such as vocabulary matching activities. Many of our close reads lead to an outcome in art, design technology and maths.

The impact of close read has been that our age-related expectation reading results increased by 4% to 93% (2018/19). Results were also favourable for our EAL pupils. Close reads have also helped to increase our results in writing. The overall impact of close reading is that the children are enjoying the close read sessions and making the links in learning to our integrated curriculum and this has been wonderful to see.


References

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

Hutchinson, J. M., Whiteley, H. E., Smith, C. D., & Connors, L. (2003) The developmental progression of comprehensionrelated skills in children learning EAL. Journal of Research in Reading, 26(1), 19-32.

McKendry, M. (2013) Investigating the relationship between reading comprehension and semantic skill in children with English as an additional language: A focus on idiom comprehension.  Unpublished DPhil thesis.  University of Oxford.

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

Wikipedia - Close reading
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close_reading

[ Modified: Monday, 21 September 2020, 3:27 PM ]
 
Picture of Jamie Earnshaw
by Jamie Earnshaw - Thursday, 3 September 2020, 3:29 PM
Anyone in the world

By the Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors


EXA Discussion


We hope you had a wonderful, relaxing summer break and are now refreshed and ready for the new academic year. In this first blog of 2020-21, we are taking the opportunity to share with you some of the exciting projects we have been working on and to signpost some things to look out for in the year ahead.


EAL Excellence Award film debut

A few months ago, before the lockdown, five EAL coordinators from local primary and secondary schools in Hampshire LA came together to talk about their experiences around entering for the Hampshire EMTAS EAL Excellence Award. It was a highly successful morning with lots of sharing of practical ideas. We thank Anne Marklew (Harestock Primary School), Dawn Tagima (Cherrywood Community Primary School), Stacey Barnes (Ranvilles Infant School), Eileen Rawlins (Cove Secondary School) and Sophie Durbajlo (Merton Infant School) for kindly allowing us to video this session for the purpose of disseminating best practice more widely within the local authority and beyond.

The themes explored in the video include:

-  the benefits of entering for the award

-  preparing for the award

-  submitting data and evidence

-  next steps and working towards the next level

Watch the video here.


Training and resourcing 

We are really pleased to welcome to the EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisor Team Lynne Chinnery and Helen Smith. Lynne will be supporting schools in Havant & Waterlooville, and Helen will be covering Basingstoke & Deane whilst Astrid is on maternity leave. 

Our training activities for 2020-21 include a series of network meetings.  We have added to our offer network meetings aimed at an NQT and RQT audience to get people started in the right direction when it comes to practice and provision for EAL and GRT learners.  Other network meetings are also available so if you’re interested, see our website for more information and for details on how to book.  The first of our network meetings this year will be held online.  If your school would be willing to host a network meeting towards the end of this term or later in the year, we'd love to hear from you.  If you can’t attend one of our network meetings, don’t forget our EAL e-learning is an on-tap way of accessing training and it’s free to staff in Hampshire-maintained schools.

Two new services we offer schools in 2020-21 are EAL and GRT clinics.  During an EAL Clinic, a Specialist Teacher Advisor visits the school on a pre-arranged date and meets individually with members of staff to discuss 1:1 the EAL children in their class.  Please see here for more information.  For schools with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils on roll, the GRT clinic model may be more relevant.  This is aimed at supporting the GRT Co-ordinator on staff to develop and embed best practice for GRT pupils, including Showmen.  For more information, see the EMTAS website.  We are launching for 2020-21 a Kushti Careers page showing the achievements of members of the GRT community and how education has influenced their life choices

The very successful 6-module Supporting English as an Additional Language (SEAL) course is due to run again from October 2020 to July 2022.  The advantage of sending a member of staff on this course is that you will have an EAL expert on staff who can advise colleagues about EAL best practice and cultural aspects that may affect a child’s learning and/or ability to settle into their new school environment.  For further information see here.

Date for your diary:  Friday 9th July 2021 is the next EMTAS Conference. It promises to be an exciting and informative day with EAL and GRT speakers and workshops that will impact on your practice in the classroom.  Look out for communications on the conference throughout this term.

In case you missed it before the summer holidays, we released our guidance on entering EAL learners for the autumn GCSE exam series. The guidance includes information about the autumn 2020 GCSE exams, factors to consider when deciding which EAL learners to enter and suggestions as to how to support EAL learners who are entered for the exams. Keep in mind that the exam boards’ deadline for entering learners is fast approaching: 4th October for English and Maths and 18th September for all other subjects.

In light of the changes to the Heritage Language GCSEs in the autumn, particularly the removal of the speaking tests, we have adapted our packages of support to focus on preparing students for the Reading, Writing and Listening exams. Full details can be found here. Please complete the request form on our website and return to the EMTAS inbox: emtas@hants.gov.uk

Hot off the press, we have just released our guidance on the placement of EAL learners in sets, groups and streams. A copy of the full guidance can be found on our moodle, alongside our other Position Statements.  We hope that this document will help to inform decisions made by all school staff about the best sets, groups or streams in which to place learners for whom English is an additional language.

Another useful resource which has just been updated and is available to use on our website here is the audio version of ‘Welcome to Hampshire’ in English, our information guide written specifically for unaccompanied asylum seeking children and young people.  This is aimed at those who can understand English but who are not yet able to read it sufficiently well to access the booklet independently.  Our website also hosts translated version in Arabic, Farsi and Pashto, aimed at children and young people who are literate in these languages. 


Young Interpreter Scheme research update

In other news, Debra Page’s PhD research evaluating the Young Interpreter Scheme’s impact on children’s language use, empathy, and cultural awareness continues.  Debra is now recruiting schools for her data collection phase.  Since Debra’s last blog in May, her teacher questionnaire has closed and findings from this will be released in a few months’ time.   If your school is interested in taking part in this exciting research project, do email debra.page@pgr.reading.ac.uk; she will be very happy to discuss her project and what it involves with you.

  

Developing the writing of more advanced EAL learners (AEL) project

This year EMTAS is planning an all new cross-phase project aimed at improving the writing of more advanced EAL learners (and non-EAL peers) using authentic reading and writing experiences. The project aims to use cutting edge technologies (two types of Google tools) to engage learners in creative experiences that link with existing Programmes of Study and project-based learning already happening across the curriculum.

There are two elements to the project:

a. Providing online sources of rich multimedia experiences around topics and themes that support work already going on in the curriculum. These experiences contain authentic high-quality texts that act as a model for children prior to designing their own versions.

b. Enabling children to create their own multimedia versions using the Google tools within Google Earth and Google Poly (3D/Virtual Reality).

The main text-type is likely to be information-based although the experiences may also feature elements of explanation and persuasion or discussion depending on the subject and topic.

Any schools wanting more information or who are interested in taking part should contact Chris Pim - chris.pim@hants.gov.uk

 

Finally…

Like schools, we have been working on a comprehensive Risk Assessment to support our staff to begin safely visiting schools again after the lockdown.  We recognise that the Covid-19 scene is subject to frequent change and our aim is that our Risk Assessment will keep pace with the situation as it continues to develop.  Schools can be reassured that we take the safety of pupils, families and all school-based colleagues as seriously as we do that of our own staff and we are working hard to come up with creative ideas for ways we can continue to offer support where it’s needed.  If you have any suggestions to make to that end, do get in touch.


More news coming soon


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[ Modified: Monday, 7 September 2020, 1:44 PM ]
 
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