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Anyone in the world


In this blog, Hampshire EMTAS Bilingual Assistant Eva Papathanassiou reviews Mantra Lingua’s Kitabu dual-language ebook Library.


I got very excited and relieved a few months ago, when I opened my work inbox and read that I was invited to have access to an application which is literally an e-book library! Excited, because as a Bilingual Assistant, I know how any first language use, tool and resource can be extremely useful and significant for supporting children who have English as an Additional Language (EAL) to engage with the curriculum. Relieved, because this rich and diverse library would be in my hands, at any place, at any time, in less than one minute, without having to travel to our main office to get a resource or having to ask my colleagues to send to me at short notice.

I will briefly present to you this tool which is available as an app (download from Google Play or App Store) as well as through a URL on laptops and computers. I will then share with you two examples of how I have used it and why I am still so enthusiastic about it.

The Kitabu dual-language ebook Library by Mantra Lingua is a bilingual, interactive e-book library which gives you access to more than 550 books in 42 languages. The books are grouped by origin of language and type/genre. The majority of the books are fiction and folk stories for primary to early secondary (KS3) children. The fantastic thing about this library is that every e-book has both text and narration in two languages and different extra features. For example, you can create and share notes in any page, you can highlight a word or you can use a pen to draw, write or erase in any place in the text. You can also ‘tap around to hear the sound’ - tap around the page and hear the sounds of the illustration, making the book very vivid and appealing, especially to young children. 

Most e-books contain a video of the story in English and follow on activities at the end for vocabulary and comprehension such as flash cards, labelling the parts of a picture, matching pairs, sequencing pictures and video observations matched with reading comprehension multi-choice questions. As you will read later on, I found the activities extremely useful to both EAL pupils and myself, especially for making the children feel more relaxed and confident, creating a rapport and for assessing first language literacy skills.

I first used the Kitabu dual-language ebook Library last autumn, when I visited a Primary School to meet and support a Romanian pupil in Year 2, Alexandru*, who had recently arrived in Hampshire. One important part of my job is to write an initial profile report of the EAL pupil by collecting important information about the child, their personality, their concerns and challenges, previous education, the level of their literacy in first language and their proficiency in English at the school starting stage (in partnership with the school teacher). Sharing the same language and culture makes the pupil’s initial profile creation a more straightforward task. However, someone who doesn’t share the child’s first language would find the process more challenging due to the lack of mutual understanding and immediate rapport that comes more naturally with someone who shares the same heritage. I don’t speak Romanian so I needed to use any tools and means available that would facilitate this task, but most importantly would enable the pupil and myself to get to know each other a little bit more and establish a bond, a relationship of trust. After a brief cooking activity with his class, it was time for me to get to know Alexandru better and assess his literacy skills. The Kitabu dual-language ebook Library came to my rescue and in two minutes, I had in front of me a selection of 8 bilingual books for Alexandru to choose from. Alexandru seemed very much at ease with the tablet and he happily took it from my hands to explore it. When he noticed the title of the books in Romanian, his face lit up; he chose the book Let’s Go to the Park/Hai să mergem în parc and we both started exploring straight away. 




Alexandru tapped excitedly the different parts of the book and heard the narrative in Romanian and the different sounds of the illustration, scenes of a park full of children playing with their families. Slowly, he read some of the sentences in his first language and he heard the audio and me reading the same sentences in English, whilst he was pointing to the pictures and tapping to hear the different sounds. We moved on to the activities at the end, and we looked to the bilingual glossary with matching images from the book where we could both hear and read the words in both languages. Alexandru had the opportunity to learn some new English words, teach me some Romanian ones and correct my pronunciation and at the same time he felt happier, more relaxed and engaged. He also wrote some words in capital letters in his own language showing his writing ability, which seemed appropriate to his age and previous education. Alexandru also built his vocabulary further with different games when he labelled the parts of an image by dragging the correct word at the correct place and matching different pictures to words on the tablet and submitting his answers. This e-book enabled me to engage in an informal conversation with Alexandru, made both of us feel more at ease and get to know each other a little bit better while I had the opportunity to assess Alexandru’s first language (and partly English) listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. 

A second example where I found the Kitabu dual-language ebook Library extremely beneficial was when I was asked to take over the support of a Japanese girl in Year 2 at another Primary School after one of my colleagues left our team. Hinata* had learned to write in her first language at nursery in Japan and firstly joined the school in the summer term of the previous academic year, in Year 1. The school had very successfully used Hinata’s previous skills for various writing activities and the EMTAS department had already sent a bilingual book for Hinata to read together with her classmates. Hinata appeared rather shy when she had to speak to her teacher or in front of her class and she used one word answers or gestures for communication.

During one of my visits, I was asked by Hinata’s teacher to supervise a ‘guided reading’ group activity where Hinata and three of her friends would have the opportunity to read and discuss the  bilingual book, Mei Ling’s Hiccups/メイリンのしゃっくり, lent by EMTAS as a hard copy.




Hinata appeared reluctant to read out loud in Japanese but she did read each page to herself and subsequently she happily heard the rest of the group who took turns to read the text in English. Very soon Hinata appeared more relaxed and took her turn to read parts of the text in English. Everyone was impressed with her reading skills and praised her efforts. We got into a conversation about parties and Hinata was able to answer closed questions and give one-word answers, using key vocabulary from the book i.e. balloon, party, drink. Having been exposed to the Kitabu dual language ebook Library very recently, I enthusiastically searched to find any appropriate Japanese books. I was thrilled to find Mei Ling’s Hiccups as an e-book and straight away I found the follow-on vocabulary and comprehension activities. In school, Hinata together with her classmates quickly got engaged in matching pictures to words and labelling different parts of a picture. Soon Hinata appeared much more confident to demonstrate her comprehension by tapping, dragging and listening to the questions, very often volunteering her answers and at the end we went back to the book text and Hinata heard parts of the story in Japanese and read several phrases in English.

Last week, I visited the Primary School again for Hinata’s follow up visit.  I was looking forward to seeing and supporting Hinata again and I remembered how much Hinata together with her classmates had enjoyed the bilingual book and its linked Kitabu activities, the first thing I did was to download another Japanese e-book from the app. 

Hinata was joined by three other children and all together we went to the school library to read the new e-book, Tom and Sofia start School.  Hinata was again hesitant to read in her language but she was very happy to listen to the text in Japanese, read some pages to herself and the rest of the group seemed excited to hear the story in a different language and took turns to read or hear the audio of the text in English. Very often after this activity, they asked Hinata questions like ‘is this how you say the word cool?’ repeating the last word they heard from the Japanese audio.  Hinata replied by ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and she was also able to answer a few comprehension questions with one word answers with no hesitation. Afterwards, we watched the animated video of the story and we proceeded to the Video Observations follow on activity where you answer comprehension multi choice questions based on what you have just seen. Hinata’s confidence grew and very soon, she volunteered to answer the questions by choosing the correct answer on the tablet, take her turn to read small portions of the text in English together with her peers and participate in the other activities such as labelling the parts in a picture or matching pairs of images and words. 




I used the Notes feature to write a comment on where and how Hinata read in the book and the children used the pen to circle different words in the e-book to demonstrate their comprehension. We highlighted more tricky words or phrases like ‘feel welcome’ and the group discussed what the phrase meant with examples.  They also had the opportunity to listen to and read the definition of the word ‘welcome’ in English from an e-book. Hinata took part in all group activities contentedly and apart from learning through a new story and its key vocabulary, she was enabled to demonstrate her listening and reading comprehension and reading out loud skills confidently in front of the small group of her peers.  In addition, she paid attention to the given instructions in English (read by me) or heard by the activity audio and followed what she needed to do together with her classmates, proud when she submitted a correct answer.  At the end of the session, the group talked about their ‘special friends’ at home, pets or toys and Hinata told everyone that hers was a bunny.

Knowing how important it is for EAL pupils to continue using their first language in school and at home, the Kitabu dual-language ebook Library with text and audio in two languages, interactive activities and animated stories gave me an excellent opportunity to create a rapport with children who do not speak English or Greek (my own first language) and enabled me to assess their first language and English skills, through story-telling, informal chats, videos and games.  Both Alexandru and Hinata felt more confident and engaged, happier to express themselves and participate, something more evident in a group setting. 

The Kitabu dual-language ebook Library with its extensive bilingual library is another excellent tool for enriching children’s learning environment by use of their heritage language;  something essential for confidence-boosting, self-expressing, demonstrating academic knowledge, studying more efficiently and independently and most importantly maintaining their culture and sense of identity.


*pseudonym


Find out more about Kitabu dual-language ebook Library (Mantra Lingua is offering parents of learners of EAL free access to the Kitabu dual-language ebook library until the end of August - see attachment for details)

Visit the Hampshire EMTAS website

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Congratulations to Eva who was appointed as our new Bilingual Assistant Manager since writing her blog!


[ Modified: Monday, 4 January 2021, 10:20 AM ]
 
Anyone in the world


The Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors have been supporting schools to complete the EAL Excellence Award for over a year now. Many schools have successfully earned their Bronze and Silver awards and are already working hard to achieve the next level up. Working with schools to drive EAL practice and provision forward through the EAL Excellence Award has highlighted areas of support which the EMTAS Teacher team has been keen to address.

One particular aspect of EAL good practice which many schools have had to consider is the use of first language as a tool for learning. Whilst most could confidently say that pupils felt comfortable speaking their languages at school (a feature evidenced at Bronze level), EAL co-ordinators felt that pupils could be better encouraged to use their languages to access the curriculum in the classroom (a feature evidenced at Silver level). In response to this, the EMTAS Teachers have been working closely with their schools to introduce ideas and strategies to support this and they are now keen to share their work with the EAL community.

Discover our brand new materials which consist of a narrated animation (below) with supporting material you will find attached to this blog: a transcript, activities based around the animation and an aide-mémoire summarising key strategies. Our work is still ongoing with a brand new piece of EAL elearning currently under development – watch this space!  

 

 

   

Visit the Hampshire EMTAS website

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[ Modified: Wednesday, 5 February 2020, 12:16 PM ]
 
Anyone in the world

By Hampshire EMTAS Polish-speaking Bilingual Assistants Magdalena Raeburn and Katarzyna Tokarska.


Have you ever felt frustrated or out of your comfort zone because of communication barrier? Have you been on holiday abroad and found it tricky to explain what you need to your local shops, hotels or restaurants?

Imagine now, how much more complex and difficult a situation of an EAL child in a UK school might be. Try to put yourself in their shoes for a while… They come to the UK not for a holiday and not out of their own choice. They have to challenge themselves against a new language, new culture and a local community as well as the unknown school set of rules and regulations.

EMTAS Empathy Training will help you understand the complexity of the challenge that the EAL child faces every day.  The aims of the session are:

- To increase awareness of the challenges that EAL learners face in the UK schools

- To give an insight into Polish learners’ cultural school differences

- To share ideas of how to approach the most common challenges experienced by the EAL learners. 

During the training you will have a chance to become an EAL learner in a Polish classroom by taking part in a practical group activity on the geography of Poland. You will be expected to understand the teacher’s presentation, participate in a variety of activities, including group work, match the pictures, read and follow instructions as well as answer questions. 

Would it be ‘only’ a language barrier…?

The training participants concluded that acquiring the language is only a part of the bigger picture. Cultural traits, local history, geography and customs are also a part of learning when they are trying to integrate into the new reality.

Our ‘students’ admitted that it ‘really made (them) consider other barriers than language’. 

They also discovered that the manifested child’s behaviour in the classroom might have different roots rather than the ‘obvious’ ones… One of the participants said: ‘Very useful to understand how they would/could come across as ‘naughty’ or ‘distracted’’. It was an eye-opening experience.  

Our workshop attendees revealed that their ‘survival’ strategy during the session was to answer ‘yes’ to any teacher’s attempt of communication. Have you got such EAL children in your classroom? Our workshop ‘students’ said it was their technique to use to be left alone rather than having to participate in the activity they do not feel competent or confident with. Our participants also felt ‘frustrated’, ‘confused’, ‘not very clever’ and ‘wanted to avoid being asked’.  They were ‘easily disengaged’, ‘embarrassed when put on the spot’, ‘wanted to give up’ and ‘finally turned off’.

The session was an opportunity to face your own emotions as well as share the strategies, resources and ideas. Some strategies could involve researching information on the EAL child’s culture, educational system as well as taking your pupil’s personal experience into account.

When the EAL children join the UK classrooms, they need more than technicality of the language and pedagogical strategies.  They need our empathy at every step of their challenging, new journey. 

Take part in our empathy exercise at the Basingstoke EAL network meeting on January 28th. Limited spaces available and free to Hampshire maintained schools. For enquiries, please contact Lizzie Jenner, lizzie.jenner@hants.gov.uk.


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[ Modified: Wednesday, 22 January 2020, 4:41 PM ]
 
Anyone in the world

In this new blog, Annie Kershaw shares her experience of using the EAL Excellence Award and Young Interpreter Scheme to develop practice at her school in Nottingham.


I am an EAL Co-ordinator for an inner city School in Nottingham - Victoria Primary School. The headlines for our school are:

- The proportion of pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds is well above the national average.

- There are 33 languages spoken at the school.

- The rate of pupils’ mobility is well above the national average.

- The proportion of pupils who are disadvantaged is well above the national average for primary schools.

In 2018, in response to the Local Authority cuts leading to a much reduced central service for supporting schools with EAL and BME achievement, Nottingham City sent out a request for experienced practitioners to apply to become an Advanced Practitioner of EAL (APEAL); The LA would provide specialist training and support for the APEALs and in return they would complete an in-school EAL audit and action plan, identifying current examples of best practice, an action research project,  write up the report for publication on the LA website, and the APEALs would each deliver a workshop at the Local Authority EAL Annual Conference. In exchange, the APEALs received consultant support and training from the Local Authority, a network of cross-phase peers for support and specialised professional development, and access to the Hampshire EMTAS Moodle.

As EAL Co-ordinator, the Moodle was just what I was looking for. I quickly engaged with the e-learning packages for myself and for colleagues and it was great having a tool to hand which confirmed and supported our good practice in school. One of our proudest achievements was finding a way to formalise the support and training for our ‘Language Ambassadors’ through the Young Interpreters Scheme. We had already nominated children to undertake the role and asked them to do some tasks informally, but this really gave us, as a school, a structure to develop their role further, some well thought out materials to use in their training and an end goal through awarding certificates and badges. In fact, the role of the Ambassadors was recently acknowledged in our OFSTED inspection:

“Staff promptly assess the stage in learning English when pupils start school and tailor language development accordingly. They are assisted by 10 ‘Language Ambassadors’. These are pupils who have completed the accredited ‘Young Translators’ training and support other pupils, their families and staff.”

Finally, as with many of my increasingly isolated EAL Co-ordinator colleagues, I am always reflecting on whether my practice is ‘correct’ and ‘current’ or not. For me, validation for my school and for my own role came in the form of the EAL Excellence Award, developed by Hampshire. As a school, we decided to pursue the award as we accept that EAL is a big part of our identity and that we had made a lot of progress in recent years with our practice; the award seemed to us to be a good way to acknowledge that progress and a useful tool to raise the EAL profile of our school. As EAL Co-ordinator, it gave me a real structure for evaluating where we are, and how we can keep improving and moving forward with our practice in school. My colleagues were positive and encouraging and, when needed, were more than happy to provide the evidence and the support for me.

We were delighted to receive the Silver Award recently and I am already mentally preparing for our journey to Gold! The ‘Gold’ criteria has motivated me to think more holistically around our Parental Engagement and how we can make steps in this area. I look forward to the challenge!


Visit the Hampshire EMTAS website to find out more about the EAL Excellence Award and Young Interpreter Scheme.

Subscribe to our Blog Digest (select EMTAS).

[ Modified: Wednesday, 8 January 2020, 5:02 PM ]
 
Picture of Astrid Dinneen
by Astrid Dinneen - Friday, 6 December 2019, 3:36 PM
Anyone in the world

By Mariana, Young Interpreter at Cherrywood Community Primary School 


Hello everyone. My name is Mariana and I am ten year old. I am writing to share my experiences during the responsibility being a young interpreter for the last two years. I signed up because I like providing additional support to pupils who are learning English as an additional language.

When I was young, I went through the same thing as the pupils who I have worked with in the past terms. They did not know how to speak a lot while still needing help to join in. When I came into pre-school and Ash I did not know how to speak to people however luckily I had help from adults and even other children.

I strongly believe that I was chosen for this role because of my ability to communicate and help the other children to integrate in with their class and mates. I am also confident and do a lot of extra work around other languages.

On my first year of young interpreters all of us had special training to understand what we had to do in the different situations which might happen with Mrs Tagima, a very kind lady. Some of the things we done were playing a matching game around different countries, creating a map around us so we could learn new things around everyone and creating scenarios on situations and how we should act.

Last year I worked with a boy in year 1 which was from Nepal and this year I accepted a challenge by working with a new boy from Romania which cannot speak a lot of English.

During the role I have done lots of things which evolve:

- Helping them join into their PE lesson.

- Doing their work with them.

- Making sure that they understand.

- Helping with counting and reading.

Each year I enjoyed and had challenges to do with this role. Some of the things I found quite tricky were speaking and helping the boy because he nods but sometimes did not understand. I enjoyed quite a lot of things but here are some:

- Joining in with them.

- Helping them join in in class.

- Seeing their smiling faces.

Thinking of the book and game I made was easy. When I was in reception class my mum made a book for me to join in more.  As for the game, when I was little I had a game like that so, when I observed him in class to see what he needed, I remembered that I could make him something like that to help him.

The games and books are to boost his confidence while learning English. As for one of the games, it is used to help him with his class work. Incredibly, I made the games only with household objects. My friend (Romanian) helped me translate English to Romanian.

You play the games by matching the words and numbers to their correct pairs. The book is really just to boost his confidence (like a picture translator).

Thank you very much for reading. I strongly hope you understand why I wrote this blog.

Thank you!

Mariana on behalf of the young interpreters at Cherrywood Community Primary School



Find out more about the Young Interpreter Scheme on the Hampshire EMTAS website.

Subscribe to our Blog Digest (select EMTAS).

[ Modified: Monday, 16 December 2019, 2:53 PM ]
 
Anyone in the world

In a previous blog, Masters candidate Debra Page launched a questionnaire aimed at exploring staff experiences of the Young Interpreter Scheme. Now officially a PhD student after successfully completing her Masters with a distinction, Debra updates us on the results of her questionnaire.

Hello readers. I hope that you’re familiar with my name by now, but if not I am conducting research on the Young Interpreter Scheme under the supervision of the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism at the University of Reading and with Hampshire EMTAS as a collaborative partner. My Masters research dissertation looked at staff experiences of the Young Interpreter Scheme with a specific focus on motivation for participation in the scheme, views around teaching pupils with EAL and effects of running the scheme on children, staff and schools. Thank you to all that completed the questionnaire. The results are in! Findings are grouped within 5 main themes: 

- Empathy, self-esteem and self-concept

- Opinions on home language of pupils with EAL 

- Intercultural awareness

- Misconceptions surrounding concepts and use of Young Interpreters

- Effects on academic achievement

To find out more, download the summary by clicking the link attached to this article (see top right). You can also discover findings in a poster which the team and I presented at the recent NALDIC conference; here we are in action:


From left to right: Astrid Dinneen, Naomi Flynn, Debra Page and Ludovica Serratrice


We also were involved in making promotional videos for collaborative funded studentships, can you spot any of your Young Interpreters in the videos?

 

   
      


What’s next?  Stay tuned!
 
If you have any questions about the research please email me – debra.page@pgr.reading.ac.uk.
 


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[ Modified: Wednesday, 4 December 2019, 4:00 PM ]
 
Picture of Astrid Dinneen
by Astrid Dinneen - Tuesday, 22 October 2019, 12:22 PM
Anyone in the world

By Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisor Jamie Earnshaw


A huge congratulations to all students who achieved a GCSE in a Heritage Language this summer! EMTAS supported 48 students with GCSEs in Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Turkish.

Here are all the fantastic results achieved by students we supported:

GCSEs graded 9-4

Language

9

8

7

6

5

4

Arabic

2

    1

German

1

Greek

1

1

Italian

4

3

Mandarin

3

1

Polish

7

3

2

1

1

1

Russian

2

1

2


Total

18

9

4

2

2

1



GCSEs graded A*-C

Language

A*

A

B

C

Portuguese

2

4

2

1

Turkish

1

1

1

Totals

3

5

2

2






As you can see, students did extremely well this summer. Many students achieved the top grades and there were individual stories of success across the board too, including one student who did really well who was previously referred to EMTAS when in primary school and was later diagnosed with SEND with difficulties in reading and writing. Even with an uneven profile of skills across Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, with support and hard work, students can still succeed and achieve a grade at GCSE. Also do note that we offer an initial one session package of assessment to help determine if a student is ready for the GCSE.

Many of the students we supported this year were in Year 11 - we wish those students good luck with their next steps! No doubt the Heritage Language GCSE will be a bonus for those students to show to future colleges or employers. Do bear in mind though it is not necessary to wait until a student is in Year 11 to enter them for a Heritage Language GCSE but sometimes the themes of the exams are better-suited to older students (so perhaps most suitable for students in Year 9 onwards).

Visit the GCSE page on our website for more information about the GCSE packages of support we offer to help prepare students for Heritage Language GCSEs. When you have decided which package you want, ask your Exams Officer to complete the GCSE Support Request and GCSE Agreement forms and return them both to Rekha Gupta using the address details provided on the GCSE Support Request form (by the deadline of the 1st March 2020).

We look forward to working on Heritage Language GCSEs with you and your students this academic year!

[ Modified: Tuesday, 10 December 2019, 12:47 PM ]
 
Anyone in the world

Sarah Coles shares the fourth instalment of a journal-style account of her reading for the literature review and methodology chapters of her PhD thesis. 


12th October 2018

Continuing with my reading, this time I write again about interviewing, as it seems there is no end to the number of articles devoted to this particular subject.  I read one about interviewing dementia care-givers, a cheery little number.  Whilst you might not immediately think there’d be many parallels, I found there was much to gain from it, mainly to do with thinking about respondent vulnerabilities, ethical considerations and how to get the most out of an interview situation when you are really expecting people to talk about some highly personal stuff to a someone they barely know.  A lot of this boils down to knowing your interview schedule really well (that’s the list you prepare in advance of the key things you want to cover in the interview).  It was found to be off-putting if the researcher had to refer to a list as this seemed to depersonalise the interview experience for respondents, causing them to stop giving full, descriptive accounts of their experiences – so clearly it had an impact that was entirely at odds with the researcher’s aims and as such is a useful tip I shall be taking on board.  Also, and in a similar vein to guidance we are periodically given relating to dealing with safeguarding concerns and disclosures, it is advised that one avoids asking leading questions and instead asks people to describe their situations.  O’Connell Davidson and Layder (1994) suggest that in qualitative approaches to interviewing, the researcher should be prepared to respond flexibly to whatever the respondent may say and should maintain a strong focus on listening and encouraging talk rather than on ensuring all the questions they have prepared are covered.  Their book, ‘Methods, Sex and Madness’, is an entertaining caper through issues of gender identity, sexuality and witchcraft, all linked to research methods.  I find it a refreshing change from the way research methods are discussed in more traditional academic writing, and it certainly raises some important points to ponder in relation to my own research.  These points are reiterated by a guy called Seidman writing in 2013, who advises that in-depth, qualitative interviewing should have as its goal to encourage respondents to reconstruct and express their experiences and to describe their making of meaning, not to test hypotheses, gather answers to a set of pre-determined questions or corroborate opinions.  Seidman goes on to expend some wordage decrying the use of the word ‘probe’ in favour of ‘explore’, which is the point at which I had to go and make a cup of tea.  The last advice I need to take from this week’s reading is to listen more and talk less.  This I will endeavour to practise at work, and I have asked colleagues at EMTAS to let me know how I get on.  I am fairly certain I will find it particularly challenging, and I can already hear those of you who know me well chuckling quietly as they are very well aware that I can talk for England and many other countries besides, given the opportunity.

 
 
2nd November 2018
 
Undaunted by the lack of feedback on my academic ramblings, I shall persist as I am sure at least two of you will be properly interested in this week’s topic, which is the concept of ‘semi-lingualism’. 
 
This pejorative term has been used to describe an individual whose first language has not developed fully in that they are not considered to be ‘proficient’ users of that language.  When introduced to another language, such an individual would not be able to reach ‘proficiency’ in that language either, lacking the linguistic framework yielded by proficiency in the first language on which to hang the new language.  Or so the theory goes.  This being the case, rather than becoming a ‘balanced bilingual’ (more on that nebulous notion in a future edition) with comparable ‘proficiency’ (ditto) in both languages, such an individual would never attain proficiency in either.  Scary stuff indeed.
 
Several inherent difficulties push their way to the fore here.  The first is that there is no universally accepted definition of ‘proficiency’ in either a first language or a subsequent one.  In the US, there have been attempts to measure first language proficiency and MacSwan (2005) discusses the use of various ‘native language’ assessment tools in the US to determine the proficiency of speakers of Spanish as a first language in particular.  For MacSwan, there are issues with construct validity with these tests.  How, he questions, can such a test assess a child brought up in a monolingual, Spanish-speaking household as a “non- or limited speaker of Spanish” given that the child has no attendant learning difficulties and given what we know about language development 0-5 years?  A review of the types of questions asked in these tests and the test rubric itself demonstrates a strong bias towards answers given in full sentences.  For instance:
 

Item

Required student response

Prompt

  1. ¿Qué está hacienda el niño?

[What is the boy doing?]

El (niño) está leyendo/estudiando.

[The boy is reading/studying.]

Picture of boy looking at book

 

In the above example, most people would give the response “Leyendo” or “Estudionado” (“reading/studying”) rather than responding using a full sentence – and they would be rewarded with a score of zero for this.  MacSwan suggests that to give an answer to that particular question using one word reveals “detailed covert knowledge of linguistic structure”, which sounds terribly learned.  To what MacSwan says I will therefore add my own two penn’orth and call it an example of “linguistic economy” – a new concept I have just invented to describe beautifully succinct language use in which no syllable is superfluous yet the full meaning is evident.  Add to these observations the fact that we only learn about the ‘need’ to answer in full sentence in school, where these US tests are used prior to a child being admitted to full-time education, and a picture begins to emerge of Spanish-speaking children in various states in the US being found linguistically wanting and in consequence penalised and denigrated for having poorly developed first language skills before they have even got off the starting blocks.  Furthermore, it is widely held that children exhibit from an early age complex knowledge of such language-related things as word order, word structure, pronunciation and appropriate use of language in particular situations, whatever their first language may be.  Most children achieve this by the age of five, in fact, bar perhaps just the latter stipulation which brings to mind those priceless examples drawn from one’s observations of one’s own child’s completely inappropriate use of language in various public fora.  Do please send in your own examples of these as mine, which took place at Marwell Zoo just outside the zebra enclosure, is unrepeatable in this context.  Back to the matter in hand and for MacSwan, then, it is not the child’s first language proficiency that is being measured with the test question above; it is the child’s ability to suspend his pragmatic linguistic knowledge in favour of compliance with an arbitrary requirement to couch an answer in a complete sentence - in itself an unrealistic requirement, given the child has yet to start school.  Hence definitions of ‘language proficiency’ and the ways in which this might be measured are open to debate and, in consequence, so too is the concept of ‘semi-lingualism’ for which I for one am thankful.


Keep tabs on Sarah's journey using the tags below.


[ Modified: Monday, 30 September 2019, 12:10 PM ]
 
Picture of Astrid Dinneen
by Astrid Dinneen - Monday, 16 September 2019, 4:26 PM
Anyone in the world

In their last blog article published in the summer term, the Hampshire EMTAS team concluded the academic year with a celebration of their schools’ successful completion of the EAL Excellence Award. Now feeling refreshed after the summer break, the team look forward to the year ahead.  



EAL Excellence Award 

Our work supporting schools to develop and embed best practice for their EAL learners through the EAL Excellence Award continues. Surgeries will be held to help colleagues get ready for Bronze level and many of this year’s network meetings will focus on aspects of the award which practitioners need to develop for the next level up. For example, many schools will want to work on planning for the use of first language as a tool for learning this year (more on this in a future blog). See the EMTAS website for more information about the Award and how you can introduce it in your school or setting. 
 
GRT Excellence Award 

Following the success of the EAL Excellence Award, we have developed a similar award to support schools who have Gypsy, Roma and/or Traveller pupils on roll. At present, we have eight schools piloting the GRT Excellence Award and working towards getting their accreditation. To find out more, please contact: claire.barker@hants.gov.uk 
 
NALDIC Berkshire & Hampshire Regional Interest Group (RIG) 

NALDIC is the National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum and has an EAL remit. Part of the work of NALDIC is to run Regional Interest Groups (RIGs) across the country. Many of you may have heard that Dr Naomi Flynn is giving up her role as convenor of the Berkshire and Hampshire RIG. Whilst we are sad as this means we will see less of Naomi, we are also excited that the responsibility will now be shared between Portsmouth EMAS, Dr Anna Tsakalaki at the University of Reading and ourselves at Hampshire EMTAS! We wish Naomi all the best in her new role of Events Chair for NALDIC and look forward to working with our new co-convenors. 
 
Network meetings 

EMTAS network meetings are a great opportunity to meet colleagues with an interest in EAL practice and provision, to share ideas and to access input and take part in discussions on a range of EAL-related issues. These termly meetings are free to Hampshire maintained schools; staff from academies or the independent sector are also welcome to attend for a small charge. To find dates and information about how to register for a network meeting near you, see the Training section of the EMTAS website. 
 
EAL E-learning 

Our EAL E-learning has been given a complete overhaul this year to bring it up to date. The modules will now play even better in the Chrome browser and are optimised for seamless delivery over mobile devices. Check out our latest module on the ‘Role of the EAL coordinator’ and look out for new modules being developed this year. 
 
SEAL (Supporting English as an Additional Language) 

Due to popular demand, this course is running again starting in October 2019. It is a training programme for support staff and EAL co-ordinators to help them build up their knowledge of EAL good practice and pedagogy and has a strong focus on practical strategies to support pupils with EAL within their school environment. The course covers best practice in the classroom, SEND or EAL?, assessment, working with parents of children with EAL and the latest digital technology and resources to support learning in the classroom. If you are interested in signing up for this course, please check details on our website. 
 
NALDIC Conference 

This year the NALDIC conference takes place at King’s College London on 16th November (easy walking access from Waterloo station). The conference title this year is ‘Inclusive practices in multilingual classrooms: assessing and supporting EAL and SEND learners in the mainstream’. The NALDIC conference always has a good variety of workshops to suit all tastes, stands from publishers/resource providers and is a great place to network with colleagues from all over the country. 
 
As you can see there are plenty of opportunities to get involved with EAL this year. We look forward to seeing you at an event near you.  


[ Modified: Friday, 4 October 2019, 1:06 PM ]
 
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by Astrid Dinneen - Thursday, 11 July 2019, 3:38 PM
Anyone in the world

Last September we kicked off our second year of blogging with an article introducing our new EAL Excellence Award, a self-evaluation tool for schools created with a view to support practitioners in developing EAL practice and provision. As they are about to break for their Summer holiday the Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors reflect on their work with schools using the EAL Excellence Award in their area. 

 
 
Getting ready 
The award was met with much enthusiasm after its launch in our blog and during network meetings. Practitioners found it helpful as a way of mapping out the areas where provision was already strong whilst identifying areas for development. For example, many schools identified the need to appoint and train an EAL Governor. They reflected on policies and the importance of writing a stand-alone EAL policy. The self-evaluation tool also highlighted staff training needs which we supported through bespoke sessions as well as our e-learning. Feedback from schools indicated that they found the self-evaluation criteria relevant and purposeful.   
 
Some schools have collated evidence into folders to make the validation visit as smooth as possible. They have used each statement from the EXA as a divider and then placed any appropriate evidence, such as lesson plans, copies of school policies or photos of work, into each section. This made the validation process relatively straightforward since all the evidence could be found in one place. For one school, the portfolio of evidence was a piece of work which particularly impressed the Ofsted inspectors.
 
 
The validation process 
Validation visits were, in most cases, carried out by a Specialist Teacher Advisor not previously connected with the school in order to get a fresh take on practice and provision.  It has also been great being able to meet Young Interpreters in some schools and in one school there was even the chance to meet with the school governor responsible for EAL. This was supplemented by tours to see displays and collections of resources in the library or in classrooms.  One tip for schools thinking about gaining their own award might be to take pictures of anything ephemeral like a classroom display and keep them in readiness.   
 
 
What’s next? 
Since the launch of these materials in September there has been interest from colleagues beyond the bounds of Hampshire. Schools have already purchased licenses to use the tool within their establishment and EAL specialists have been trained as validators to work with schools in their own locality. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact: Chris.Pim@hants.gov.uk.
 
More materials will be produced to support schools with gaining their EAL Excellence Award in 2019-20. There will also be training opportunities to support aspects of the framework which some schools have found trickier e.g. using first language as a tool for learning. We will also work with our current bronze schools who might be thinking about developing their practice and provision towards silver.
 
Building on the success of the EAL Excellence Award, the EMTAS Traveller Team have introduced a Traveller Excellence Award that is currently being piloted in eight schools all around Hampshire. We hope to present our first award early in the Autumn term. This award helps schools audit their provision for their Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and helps to ensure that all staff are well informed about the different GRT cultures in their setting. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact: Claire.Barker@hants.gov.uk. 
 
 
Finally... 
We congratulate the following schools for their hard work in achieving their award:  

Bronze  

Cherbourg Primary School, Eastleigh

Cove School, Farnborough

Hiltingbury Infants, Eastleigh

Marlborough Infant School, Aldershot

Merton Infant School, Basingstoke

New Milton Infant School, New Milton

South Farnborough Infant School, Farnborough

St John the Baptist Primary School, Andover 

The Wavell School, Farnborough

Weeke Primary, Winchester 

 

Silver 

Cherrywood Community Primary School, Farnborough

Harestock Primary, Winchester 

Ranvilles Infant School, Fareham

St John the Baptist Primary School, Fareham 

Wellington Community Primary School, Aldershot

 
Visit our website to find out more about the EAL Excellence Award and contact the Specialist Teacher Advisor for your area to book a visit:  

Basingstoke & Deane: Astrid Dinneen, astrid.dinneen@hants.gov.uk 

Eastleigh and Test Valley: Jamie Earnshaw, jamie.earnshaw@hants.gov.uk

Fareham and Gosport: Chris Pim, chris.pim@hants.gov.uk

Hart, Rushmoor and East Hants: Claire Barker, Claire.Barker@hants.gov.uk

Havant and Waterlooville: Chris Pim, chris.pim@hants.gov.uk

Isle of Wight: Lynne Chinnery Lynne.Chinnery@hants.gov.uk  

New Forest – Lisa Kalim, lisa.kalim@hants.gov.uk

Winchester: Sarah Coles, sarah.c.coles@hants.gov.uk 

 

[ Modified: Friday, 4 October 2019, 1:05 PM ]