In this blog, Cristina Mitchell, Romanian-speaking Bilingual Assistant at Hampshire EMTAS, reflects on how technology has evolved and the positive impact it has had on her recent work with schools during the Covid-19 pandemic.
What do you think your children would say if
you were to tell them that you did not use any electronic devices in your childhood?
They may laugh, they may feel sorry for you or they may say you lived in
ancient times. It is hard to believe nowadays that it was possible to live that
way. But it is real that we lived very different times. Some may argue life was
good and some may not understand how someone can live without a phone or a
tablet. It is for each of us to choose and decide how the technology has helped
us in life. Has the use of technology made your life easier and more
complicated at the same time? Have you got concerns that our children, who are
growing up with technology, will become tech-savvy or more robots than humans?
It is human nature to worry and look at the negatives, but I like to look at technology
as incredibly helpful in my life journey.
I grew up in a world of books, playing
outdoors, practising sports and talking to people face to face. Until I was 14,
we had only watched TV for 10 minutes on Saturdays (Tom and Jerry cartoons), as
under communism, my home country, Romania, would only broadcast 2 hours a day (mostly
politics). I was 14 when my father showed me a computer in his office and
allowed me to play a computer game with bricks. It was not until my first year
of university when I first used a computer for learning. Mobile phones appeared
in my life after I graduated from university. Until then, we used to write
letters to communicate with people who were not local, telegrams for something
urgent, announcements in newspapers and landline phone calls and fax machines.
After I graduated from university, I
started using the internet as a learning tool and to speed up and widen my
communication. When I moved to the USA, I started using Yahoo messenger to keep
in touch with my family back in Europe.
The impact of technology on my support
Due to the pandemic, the use of technology
to support my work as a Bilingual Assistant (BA) has increased dramatically
over the last year. The BA team were in
the situation where we had to find ways and solutions to transfer the support
offered to schools and children in a non-face to face approach, which we had
never done before. Technology and online platforms have become more relevant
Moving to online support has been an
interesting change for me as I love technology and I am always happy to explore
innovative ways to support children. However, delivering online sessions is not
for everyone. Some can stumble in using technology or can become overwhelmed by
the multitude of functions. My approach has been to be patient with technology
and explore as much as I can to see what it can offer and how this can have a
positive impact on our support for children in schools.
In my day-to-day role, I have delivered
support sessions using Zoom and MS Teams. I soon started enjoying that I can
share the activities, documents and dictionaries easily and that the support
sessions can become highly interactive, using some other functions, such as whiteboard
and drawing in different programmes and video and audio sharing.
In normal times, I used to work with
children on creating Cultural Presentations, which we would then co-deliver to the class. With the help of technology, the
lockdown did not stop me from doing this. Using Zoom or Teams, I was able
to help children prepare the presentation and then we were able to co-deliver
the presentation, using one of the online platforms. The PowerPoint
presentations delivered on Zoom were very interactive and highly successful. Indeed,
this approach can even work better for some children with EAL, who are shy to
speak in front of the class, but can gain confidence if they deliver it online.
In one situation, a year 3 pupil and I were sitting together in a room adjacent
to the classroom. Her classmates could see us through the window and could wave
to us. Sharing videos and songs was also possible. Sometimes, the WiFi
connection or the phone signal in school (if using 3G or 4G) can become a
problem and the delivery can suffer because of that, but these are minor issues.
There are many ups and downs of using
technology, but to me this was a fantastic solution for continuing our support
during lockdown and, indeed, into the future. I’ve certainly learnt that there
is more good in technology than bad!
Find out more about the support available from our team of Bilingual Assistants on our website here.
In this blog, Chris Pim, Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisor, explores how technology can be used to support learners of EAL.
Technology, when used appropriately, can enhance any pupil’s learning experience. However, technological solutions have been shown to have relatively small effect sizes in many circumstances (Hattie 2017); when used in the wrong situation, technology may even interfere with learning. It is apparent that effective use of technology is “dependent on context and predicated on the notion that what works in one context may not be entirely replicable in another” (Pim, 2013). This is especially true where practitioners have the additional consideration of matching provision to the proficiency in English of their target EAL pupils.
the perspective of learning EAL, since acquisition of English should not be the
totality of a pupil’s learning journey, technology just used to ‘teach English’, particularly where it supplants quality mainstream provision,
is best avoided. Instead, the power of technology lies in the potential for
enhancing pupils’ wider learning; enhancing curriculum access, utilising proficiency in heritage
languages, providing flexible opportunities for demonstrating learning and
supporting the development of English across the curriculum.
technology to provide pupils with greater access to the curriculum is an
obvious starting point. In order to make learning more explicit for EAL
learners, to make the messages more abundant (Gibbons 2008), practitioners need
to infuse their lessons with multimedia. Images, infographics, videos,
podcasts, animations all enhance meaning and are essential to overcome the
additional linguistic and cultural challenges EAL learners experience, whether
UK born or recently arrived from abroad.
translation tools, either for ad-hoc communication or more academic purposes,
is another useful strategy. These tools have become extremely powerful,
although they still have their limitations (Pim, 2018). There are many
solutions available – these range between dedicated digital devices like ECTACO products, through
text-based online translation tools, to apps like SayHi that use voice
recognition and the power of neural networking to provide instant translations,
read aloud in authentic, synthesised speech. The camera on a portable device
can be used through Google Translate to render real-time on-screen
translation as well. Whilst not good enough for formal translation, these tools
are genuinely useful for two-way conversations, mediated by both parties. With
care, they can be used by practitioners to prepare dual-language glossaries and
to communicate simple ideas in text. Pupils literate in first language, with
guidance, will find them immensely useful to facilitate access to the
curriculum and even as a means of providing support with translating their
writing from first language into English.
are many digital resources available to support pupils’ maintenance and development of heritage languages.
Companies like Mantra Lingua have had a long association with the
EAL field through their audio-enabled, multilanguage books and learning charts.
Many schools will already be aware of Mantra’s TalkingPEN technology which provides a natural
link between touch, print and sound to bring interactive learning to the user.
Their Kitabu library is also an efficient delivery platform for their
bilingual e-books. There are plenty of free e-books available in different
languages on the web, but as always with online materials, their provenance
will need to be checked. The International Children’s Digital Library is an excellent source of
free texts that can be filtered in several different ways e.g. by age category
The importance of developing listening and speaking skills should not be underestimated, whether children are at an early stage of learning EAL or more advanced learners. EAL learners will benefit from structured approaches to develop such skills in English, building on practitioners’ understanding that children are not blank slates and carry relevant skills from their own heritage languages (Coles, Flynn & Pim n.d.).
is a perfect opportunity for all children, whether learning EAL or not, to
practise their oral skills for authentic purposes; technology can both
facilitate the process as well as enable recording and playback. Children can
use first language, or a combination of languages alongside English. Using
tablet devices and an app like Puppet Pals HD, pupils can work
independently - or collaboratively - to create digital stories from
backgrounds, moving characters and a recorded narration that is eventually
bound up into a movie clip. Software like Crazy Talk, Morfo and Voki
allow shy children to develop oral confidence by enabling them to make a
private recording and then attach it to an animated ‘avatar’ such as their
face, an animal or even an inanimate object.
can also help pupils to create and self-publish stories with digital elements. Book
Creator, available on most platforms, enables a user to produce e-books
from text, drawings, images, audio and video. Pupils can be encouraged to write
independently or collaboratively, using Storybird. This free online
tool, accessible from school or home, provides glorious imagery to stimulate
creative writing in any language. Mantra Lingua offers another solution
in the form of recordable sticky labels, TalkingPENs and a range of software for
producing audio-enabled stories.
ability to record and playback speech allows children to practise
pronunciation, rehearse vocabulary and play around with chunks of language in
preparation for further tasks. There are numerous portable solutions around (Talking
Products and TTS-Group) such as talking tins, pegs, cards and photo
albums. The latter devices are especially useful for combining text, imagery
and artefacts with recorded speech as a talk-for-writing approach.
link between understanding text and wider educational attainment has resonance
for learning EAL, since pupils’ reading skills are reportedly on average a year behind monolingual peers
(Smith 2016). Whatever approaches schools take to address this discrepancy,
practitioners need to bear in mind that learning to read is just one element
woven into a rich tapestry that results in a pupil’s lifelong passion for reading. It is important that
teaching builds upon pupils’ existing reading proficiencies in other languages, that practitioners use
age-appropriate texts and capitalise on pupils’ interests through presentation
of a diverse mix of texts.
are some genuinely useful resources and technologies for enabling pupils to
access texts which might ordinarily be beyond them. It is worth looking online
for translated and abridged versions of typical class and course readers. Many
book schemes provide texts with an audio CD such as Oxford and Cambridge graded
readers. Providing an audio accompaniment for an associated text like
this is a particularly useful technique. E-books offer another option,
although practitioners should bear in mind that some pupils may not
particularly like them, rather preferring to read an actual book. However,
along with high quality audio, e-books do provide additional features such as
contextualised glossaries. Print can be read aloud from paper-based sources
through OCR scanning technology using a device like C-Pen; different
versions of C-Pen offer additional functionality such as in-built
dictionaries and translation capability. Digital text can easily be read
aloud from the screen on computers and mobile devices using integrated
text-to-speech software. It’s also possible to look up word meanings and translation equivalents
directly using online resources that interface with a user’s digital reader of choice. Finally, it is worth
considering how to ensure that online texts are as accessible as possible to
emergent readers; for example, finding appropriate sources that present
information simply. There are websites like Kidrex, which assist web-safe
refined searching, that do exactly that. Also consider use of Simple English
Wikipedia for older learners.
well established that children learning EAL need opportunities for explicit teaching
and learning of new vocabulary across the curriculum (DfES 2006). Typically,
pupils learning EAL have smaller vocabularies in English compared with non-EAL
peers, a factor that has been shown, for example, to be an important predictor
of reading comprehension Murphy (2015). There are numerous ICT-based tools
available for reinforcing knowledge of vocabulary (in all its forms).
Dual-language glossaries, supported visually, are easy to create using Widgit,
something that may be useful to L1 literate pupils, as well as their parents. Quiz-based
vocabularies can be created and/or sourced online from pre-built versions, via Quizlet.
Plickers is a free polling tool suitable for whole class vocabulary
building activities. Other games can be made using tools like Osric’s Bingo
Card Generator as well as a wide variety of word-definition matching activities using Formulator
Word clustering tools like WordArt.com help learners focus on topic
words, as well as encouraging inference around the text-type and genre the
words have been drawn from.
One of the biggest challenges for EAL learners is to
convert their thinking and talking into writing. Some children will be ready
for sustained free writing, whilst others may be limited to composing smaller
chunks of text within digital scaffolds. They may choose to write in English,
first language or a combination. It is worth mentioning that computers and
mobile devices need to be set up specifically to enable children to interface
voice and keyboard input to search, translate and write digitally in a
preferred language other than English.
Emergent writers benefit from technologies that enable
them to convey their ideas through multimedia elements and snippets of text,
rather than full prose. Cartoon makers like Comic Life provide a
framework in which to drop imagery, either from a device’s camera or an
external file, alongside the use of text holding areas like speech bubbles and
legends. An app like iMovie can be used across the curriculum to help
pupils demonstrate learning in creative ways. Within iMovie, the Trailer
feature offers different storyboard templates across a range of genres,
encouraging pupils to edit default text with their own short, snappy version to
accompany the visuals. Adobe Spark Video is another tool for
producing annotated movies. This app allows a user to record an audio narration
and build up a storyboard using copyright-free imagery, but interestingly, once
again, deliberately constrains writing to short sentences.
There are many digital writing tools available for
more cohesive writers. These take the form of dedicated supportive word
processors such as Book Creator and Clicker Docs as well as plugin
software keyboards like Texthelp’s read&write and Grammarly. Traditional
supports in digital writing tools like spelling and grammar checks will of
course be useful, but only when children are explicitly taught the conventions
of red and green underlining. Integrated thesauri will also help those pupils
with a strong enough lexical knowledge to make sensible choices between
synonyms. Newer features like predictive text assist pupils with word choice,
both within and between words. They can also hear back what they have written
via text-to-speech synthesis, a feature which can help some users spot their
errors more easily. A user can also shortcut typing via the speech-to-text
listening capability of the operating system; an easy way for pupils who are not
confident in their use of keyboards to render digital text through natural
speech. Clicker Docs has an additional feature where topic word banks
can be imported from online repositories, enabling easy access to
context-related subject glossaries.
To conclude, it is worth considering what networking
tools are available for busy practitioners to keep up to date and access
additional guidance from the wider community of EAL professionals. One idea is
to register for the EAL-Bilingual Google group. Following organisations
and professionals on Twitter and tweeting around the #EAL hashtag is
another great idea. Curating apps like Pinterest and Pearltrees
offer a cornucopia of relevant content when searched for relevant terms such as
a ‘EAL’ and ‘ELL’. Finally, subscribing to relevant blogs is a useful way to
keep up to date with current thinking.
This blog first appeared in the EAL Journal, Spring 2020.
Coles S., Flynn, N. & Pim,
C. EAL MESHGuide. Accessed 2.1.20
Department for Education and
Skills (DfES) (2006) Excellence and Enjoyment: learning and teaching for
bilingual children in the primary years. Unit 2 Creating the learning
culture: making it work in the classroom. London DfES.
Gibbons, P. (2008). Challenging
pedagogies: More than just good practice? NALDIC Quarterly, 6(2), 4-14.
Hattie, J. (2017). Backup of Hattie’s Ranking list
of 256 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement
Murphy, V. (2015) Assessing
vocabulary knowledge in learners with EAL: What’s in a word?
Pim, C. (2013) Emerging technologies, emerging minds:
digital innovations within the primary sector. In G. Motteram (Ed.), Innovations
in learning technologies for English language learning (pp. 17-42). London. British Council.
C. (2018, June 12). Aren’t digital translation tools only useful for keywords? [Blog post].
Retrieved from: https://emtas.hias.hants.gov.uk/blog/index.php?entryid=18
N. (2016, September 26). Reading comprehension is the key to accessing the
curriculum. [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://naldic.org.uk/httpsealjournal-org20160927reading-comprehension-is-the-key-to-accessing-the-curriculum
EAL-Bilingual Google group - https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/eal-bilingual
related Blogs: https://naldic.org.uk/professional-learning-cpd/links/blogs-news-resources
Mantra Lingua - https://uk.mantralingua.com
Talking Products - https://www.talkingproducts.com/educational-resources.html
Scanning Pens - http://www.dictionarypen.com
The International Children’s Digital Library - http://en.childrenslibrary.org
Formulator Tarsia - http://www.mmlsoft.com/index.php/products/tarsia
Osric’s Bingo card Generator - https://osric.com/bingo-card-generator
Plickers - https://get.plickers.com
WordArt.com - https://wordart.com/
Crazy Talk - https://www.reallusion.com/crazytalk
Voki - https://www.voki.com
Comic Life - https://plasq.com
Storybird - https://storybird.com
Grammarly - https://www.grammarly.com
Book Creator - https://bookcreator.com
Read&Write - https://www.texthelp.com/en-gb/products/read-write
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.
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)
to Eva who was appointed as our new Bilingual Assistant Manager since writing
As the situation regarding the Covid-19 outbreak continues to unfold and as schools, parents and children adapt to their new ways of working the Hampshire EMTAS team is sharing how they will keep up their support.
Hampshire EMTAS is still open for business and colleagues are working hard in the background to maintain our usual level of support:
- The Specialist Teacher Advisors are working on new material and training and are still available for support and advice via email, telephone or videoconferencing (preferably on Microsoft Teams). They are keeping a close eye on the situation and will contact colleagues booked to attend network meetings with an update. Note some events may still happen virtually so do continue to book on and look into downloading Microsoft Teams.
- CPD continues to be available through our EAL e-learning, which is free to Hampshire schools. Please contact us to sign up.
- The Bilingual Assistant Team are going to produce translations of key resources for the EMTAS website. They are also able to produce translations and voice-overs in other languages for curriculum resources to be used with those children they’ve been supporting e.g. PowerPoints to be used in teaching inputs. If teachers in schools have anything like this they want adapted for their learners, please get in touch.
- The Traveller Team are working on new resources for schools and a contingency plan for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month, which for communities in Hampshire is being postponed but which promises a range of fun activities including line dancing and a postcard competition.
- Our language phone lines, SEND/EAL, ELSA and GRT phonelines are still running hence Hampshire practitioners and parents can continue to phone the EMTAS main phone number to speak to a member of staff. Note a list of Hampshire EMTAS colleagues’ email addresses will be shared with Hampshire schools via a ‘school com’ hence school practitioners will also be able to contact particular members of staff directly.
- Our Resources Manager is still processing some orders e.g. for digital subscriptions to the Young Interpreter Scheme but will be unable to send resources out to schools. Our Admin team is working remotely but is still responding to calls and emails from schools.
- We are working on publishing activities for Young Interpreters to carry out from home on our Moodle (free access). Note that a decision will be made about the Basingstoke Young Interpreters Conference after the Easter break.
Finally, we are keen to continue posting blogs every other week but acknowledge our original schedule will need to be tweaked to ensure articles are pertinent to our readers in these highly unusual circumstances. As far as possible our blogs will include useful links for digital resources and advice to support you and families throughout the pandemic. Please subscribe to the blog digest to stay up to date (select EMTAS on the sign up form).
We will start here with a non-exhaustive list of suggested resources which school practitioners are encouraged to share with parents where appropriate. We would like to draw your attention particularly to the Kitabu Dual Language ebook Library. A review of this library written by Hampshire EMTAS Bilingual Assistant Eva Papathanassiou is coming very soon. In the meantime, Mantra Lingua is offering parents of learners of EAL free access to the library. Please contact us for details which you can share with your families.
List of resources
Coronavirus information in other languages
- World Health Organisation (WHO) – choose your language in the top right-hand corner
- Translated posters for hygiene tips from New South Wales Health (Australia)
- Download eBooks, eAudiobooks and eMagazines for free from Hampshire libraries
- Ebooks and audiobooks for children currently available for free at World Book Online
- Kitabu Dual Language ebook Library (blog coming soon)
- Free streaming for children on Audible. Includes stories in six languages
Resources for parents and their children
- Free resources for Young Interpreters via the Hampshire EMTAS Moodle
- National Literacy Trust – Parent Zone
- Secondary resources for home learning with the English and Media Centre
- Free British Sign Language course for under 18s
- Free home learning resources for Secondary students from the British Library Learning
- Collaborative Learning Project - Collaborative Activities are ideal for learning at home. You collaborate to make up an activity. You collaborate to do the activity. Then you sanitise the activity and pass it on to another parent or carer
- BBC Bitesize – cross-phase and cross-curricular learning resources
- BBC Programmes categorised as learning
- #stayathomestorytime - 6pm on Instagram – a daily children’s story by Oliver Jeffers
- Jack Hartman on Youtube - maths and English with physical exercises to do
- Topmarks - resources for KS1 and KS2
- The Confident Teacher – weekly themed activities and resources
- @littlelessons20 on Twitter. Two video lessons each day suitable for primary pupils
- Kelly’s Home Centre on Facebook - live free virtual cooking classes for children aged between 6 and 14
- Cambridge Assessment – offering their ResourcePlus suite, with videos and teaching resources, for free. Secondary phase
- EAL journal – for further links of suggested websites and activities
- The Royal Opera House - programme of free online content for the culturally curious at home
- ‘A list of free, online, boredom-busting resources’ from Chatter Pack. Includes links to virtual tours of museums and galleries, links to concerts and much more
- Snow Mouse – a wintry 40-minute tale for the under-fours
Online learning platforms
- Education City - resources to support literacy, numeracy and cross curricular work (including a Learn English module)
- Learning Village – blended learning materials for EAL learners
- Parents can order a free 14-day trial C-pen to be sent home in order to support their children's literacy.
Fitness and wellbeing
- Live PE workouts each morning with Joe Wicks, Body Coach, on Youtube
- PE workouts on demand with Les Mills Born to Move
CPD for school staff
A review by Jamie Earnshaw, Hampshire EMTAS Teacher Adviser.
© Copyright Hampshire EMTAS 2018
As a monolingual teacher of English as an additional language, I often find myself working with students I do not share a first language with. I tend to work with students in the secondary phase of their education, the majority of whom are working on GCSEs. This often involves having to read and use texts full of more complex, academic language, usually based on more abstract concepts. I work with students from a variety of backgrounds; some fully literate in their first language, others not able to read or write but are fully competent in speaking and listening. Therefore, the way I help students to access unfamiliar texts very much depends on the individual student. The C-Pen was quite the breakthrough for me in supporting in my role.
The C-Pen is simple to use for those who are not tech savvy. Just plug it in to charge and before long, it’s ready to use. The simple menu screen makes it easy to select the target language. Then, as easy as it sounds, the tool is ready to be used. The tool works by the user highlighting the target text using the pen, either in print or on screen, and then it provides a translation of the word in the selected other language, along with a definition of the word. So, the C-Pen can be used by students working in English who want to know what particular words are, and their meaning, in their first language. Alternatively, students using first language texts to support their understanding of key concepts can use the pen to check the definition of any words in their first language they are not familiar with, keeping in mind that higher level texts may well have advanced language students have not even learnt in first language.
The pen will read out the target word and provide a definition of the word, in the two languages selected, on the screen of the pen. For those students not secure in reading, the fact that the pen reads out the target language overcomes this possible barrier. Nevertheless, this audio functionality is of course beneficial for all EAL learners; the importance of students hearing target language modelled is a fundamental principle of good practice for supporting students who are learning English as an additional language.
Often lessons are so fast paced, it can be difficult for students to use a traditional bilingual dictionary to look up individual words. With the C-Pen, it is much easier for students to look up words in fast succession as the tool works instantaneously. And, another real benefit of the pen, is it allows students to store texts and words they have looked up in files on the pen, so students can easily go back and look at any text they have looked up during their day and they can then download the files to their computer. They can therefore easily go over any texts or words, to recap their learning. They can even use the pen to audio record any ideas or thoughts they have.
The C-Pen very much encourages students to develop their independence in accessing and understanding unfamiliar texts. Students are easily able to use the pen without support from others. Nevertheless, it is of course a great tool for students to use collaboratively with others students too. Students who speak different languages, working on the same text, can use the pen to easily switch between definitions in different languages when focused on particular words/text.
Whilst it is important for students to be able to understand language at word level, it is also essential that students are able to use the language in context. The C-Pen supports with this. As well as giving a definition of the text, it also provides a sentence, in both English and the other language selected, in which the target word is used.
The C-Pen functions in English, Italian, German, Russian, Spanish and French. It really is a must have for all learners of English as additional language.
More strategies for KS3 and KS4 can be found on the Hampshire EMTAS website.
Written by Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisor Chris Pim
As a trainer I often find there can be a wide range of assumptions or even misconceptions about the effectiveness of digital translation tools for supporting learners of English as an additional language (EAL) and their families. Whilst there is no doubt that these tools are continuing to improve over time, they do have their limitations. So what can we say about their effectiveness - in what contexts are they useful and how can we make best use of them?
The first point that is worth mentioning is that these tools won’t be putting translators out of a job any time soon. It is certainly the case that these tools are not reliable enough for formal written translation and there are many stories, perhaps apocryphal, of nuance being completely lost because a word like ‘detention’ translates as ‘prison’. Moreover, clarification can’t easily be sought once the translated material escapes into the real world. We should also be cautious about replacing professional interpreters in situations where accuracy of face to face communication is essential, such as in formal meetings, particularly where the topic involves sophisticated or esoteric subjects and where there may be additional safeguarding issues.
So what place do these tools have for communication and curriculum-related support? It might help initially to clarify the distinction between standalone translation devices or scanning pens and other solutions that utilise the power of the internet. The former examples have been programmed with a specific set of in-built translations for vocabulary and stock phrases. These devices will be fairly accurate so long as, particularly for vocabulary, the user can pick the correct option from a range of homographs or grammatical constructs. The latter versions, online tools, will be more unpredictable but potentially much more powerful, especially when used judiciously.
Modern online tools use the immense processing power of neural networks, piecing together their output from known good translations in the target language that exist around the World Wide Web. This is how the system learns and improves and in fact certain language learning tools like Duolingo are helping by contributing to the accuracy of online translated materials. Connected devices such as phones and tablets and appropriate apps (such as SayHi and Google Translate) are beginning to transform how EAL students can benefit from using their first language skills. For example, using Google Translate a user can scan printed text with the camera on their chosen device and, as if by magic, the text will change in real time into target language. Similarly, where before the effectiveness of online translation required a user to be able to read rendered text, now a user can use the listening capability of a mobile device to register speech and read out an oral translation in a naturally synthesised accent for the target language.
This is where digital translation becomes genuinely useful. So, for ad-hoc communication, whether face-to-face or via video conferencing technologies like Skype, the conversation is mediated by the participants who can check for clarification in the moment and fall about laughing if it all goes wrong. Meaning is more important than grammatical accuracy in this context. Moreover, for more academic work users can type or talk and get instant translation which they can mediate for themselves to enhance their access to the curriculum.
Practitioners can use these technologies to communicate with students in lessons. They could translate the aim of the lesson or a key concept and also prepare resources such as bilingual keyword lists, notwithstanding the complexities of ensuring they choose the correct words. With short paragraphs, removing clauses can produce more accurate translations. Additionally, it is also possible to reverse translate to check for accuracy.
Many of these tools are free, or really low-cost, so what’s not to like? Try them and encourage your EAL learners as well. You may be surprised at the results!
written by Chris Pim, Hampshire
EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisor
How to use computer games to enrich the curriculum and raise standards in reading and writing for all pupils, including more advanced learners of English as an additional language (EAL)
Most pupils have direct experience of playing computer games, whatever their linguistic or cultural heritage. Minecraft, you may be aware, is one of the most successful games of all time. So how could you capitalise on the interest in digital gaming to engage your learners and develop approaches that can raise standards across the curriculum?
Using computer games for language learning across the curriculum – some considerations
Not all computer games are created equal – to coin a phrase. Games that are specifically designed for education, such as English language learning games, may not be that successful because pupils realise that they are no more than thinly disguised tests and don’t respond positively to them.
In an educational context the best games are immersive; the player inhabits a realistically rendered 3D world influencing a narrative- rich storyline through the actions of their character/avatar. From a learning perspective, especially for EAL pupils, professionally produced computer games contain clear graphics, authentic storylines, audio narration/music and rich texts that provide a clear context and make meaning explicit. Some also provide obvious links to the curriculum such as through historical, geographical and scientific settings and scenarios.
You also need to be aware that all marketed computer games are subject to an age rating to determine their appropriateness for children and young people (Pegi). This is an important factor in determining the type of computer game that you might choose to use with your pupils.
As you read this article you may already have ideas for suitable computer games. However you might like to consider any of the following: The Myst series, Minecraft Storymode, Syberia, The Longest Journey, Tintin - Search for the Unicorn, The Room series and Amerzone.
There are numerous opportunities for developing thinking, talking and writing around computer games. For example, there is obviously merit in allowing pupils to play the game in pairs/groups as the quality of discussion will benefit EAL learners as they work alongside supportive peers. There is also tremendous potential in playing parts of the game as a whole class, projecting game play onto a large digital display. One pupil plays the game and peers suggest where to look, which objects to interact with and generally help to decide on particular courses of action at major decision points. Pupils can also debate particular courses of action. This all helps to develop more academic types of language that will improve written outcomes.
Playing a computer game from start to finish won’t be possible. But the game can be moved on by playing video game walk-throughs sourced from the internet. Featured texts within the game can be used as the basis for EAL-friendly activities; vocabulary-building games, Directed Activities Related to Texts (DARTs) and collaborative writing tasks like Dictogloss.
When playing computer games it is immediately apparent how fruitful the medium is for developing writing within different text types - for example, encouraging descriptive writing around realistic settings and well-defined characters. The format also encourages learners to produce recounts of game play sessions. Finding solutions to puzzles and making progress through the game provides opportunities for instructional and explanation-based texts. Students can discuss/argue the relative strengths and weaknesses of any particular game or perhaps the appropriateness of its age-rating from the perspective of a player or parent. Pupils could also write computer game reviews.
Why not also challenge your pupils to create persuasive videos to advertise a chosen computer game? Using professionally produced video game adverts sourced from the internet you can demonstrate persuasive techniques, such as rhetorical questions, repetition, lists of three, hyperbole etc. Next, using images and video captured from their chosen game, encourage pupils to collaborate on the production of a promotional video using iMovie’s Trailer feature. You will find this activity is especially beneficial for more advanced EAL learners as it acts as an intermediate scaffold for writing persuasively.
As you can see there are many ideas for integrating computer games into the classroom to improve the reading and writing skills of your more advanced EAL learners alongside their peers. So, what’s stopping you? You won’t be disappointed with the outcomes!
To read a research case study focussed on using immersive games to improve the writing of more advanced EAL learners visit: https://eal.britishcouncil.org/eal-sector/eal-and-immersive-games