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Picture of Astrid Dinneen
by Astrid Dinneen - Thursday, 30 September 2021, 2:54 PM
Anyone in the world

By Claire Barker


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

By the Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors 


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


Network meetings 

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


EMTAS conference 

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


New e-learning 

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

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

- Developing culturally inclusive practice in Early Years settings

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

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



Awa

Heritage Honours Award

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


Research 

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

diary

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


Staffing

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

Sarah Coles – Winchester

Lisa Kalim – New Forest

Astrid Dinneen – Basingstoke & Deane

Jamie Earnshaw – Eastleigh, Fareham and Gosport

Claire Barker – Hart, Rushmoor and East Hants

Lynne Chinnery – Havant, Waterlooville and Isle of Wight

Helen Smith – Test Valley

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

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


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


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

By the Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors 
 

EMTAS logo


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


EAL 

Petersfield Infant School 

Validated at Gold 

Merton Infant School 

Validated at Gold 

Whiteley Primary School 

Validated at Bronze 
 

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

Validated at Silver 

Brookfield 

Awaiting validation for Bronze 

 
Tower Hill 

Validated at Bronze 

 

Manor Field Infants

 

Validated at Silver

 

GRT 

St John the Baptist C of E                                                         

Validated at Silver              


Heritage Honours Award 

HH

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


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


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


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

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

-  Developing culturally inclusive practice in Early Years settings 

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

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

 

Supporting English as an Additional Language (SEAL) 


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

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


Guidance Library 


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


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


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

 
EMTAS Resources Update 


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


Story Packs 

Caterpillar


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


Some of the stories we have include:

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

- The Hungry Caterpillar - Punjabi 

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

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

- Monkey Puzzle – Brazilian Portuguese 


EAL Story sacks 


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

 
Fiction for older readers 


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

  
GCSE texts 


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


Exam Dictionaries 


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

 
New books for older readers with low reading ages 

Older readers


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


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


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

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

 
EMTAS Library Catalogue 


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


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

Staffing 


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


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


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


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


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


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

 

Finally… 


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


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


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


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


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


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


Subscribe to our Blog Digest (select EMTAS) 

[ Modified: Wednesday, 21 July 2021, 4:51 PM ]
 
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.


Subscribe to our Blog Digest (select EMTAS).

[ Modified: Wednesday, 22 January 2020, 4:41 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 ]
 
Picture of Sarah Coles
by Sarah Coles - Tuesday, 21 November 2017, 1:48 PM
Anyone in the world

Written by Hamish Chalmers, Doctoral Researcher at Oxford Brookes University

Teachers working with cardsTeachers working with cards

I run the NALDIC Oxfordshire Regional Interest Group (RIG) which is a forum for teachers, researchers and others interested in the education of EAL learners. Despite the very rich and diverse linguistic characteristic of Oxford and its surrounds, the Local Authority no longer has an EAL department and therefore no longer provides peripatetic support for EAL learners and their teachers. This means that it can be very difficult for individual teachers and schools to access training that would help them to keep up to date with developments in policy and practice relating to EAL, and ensure that they follow best principles in their teaching. Our RIG meets once a term. At each meeting teachers share their expertise, we invite guest speakers to talk about research and practice and we run workshops as a component of teachers’ continuing professional development.

We were delighted, therefore, to be given an opportunity to try out the Hampshire EMTAS EAL Conversation Cards with the RIG this autumn. The conversation cards are an excellent way to stimulate thoughtful discussion around provision for EAL learners in our schools. Each card poses a question related to a typical scenario. For example one cards asks ‘At your school, pupils who are relatively new to English are withdrawn from language classes for extra English. What would be your opinion of this policy?’ The question is designed to prompt discussion about this authentic scenario, with a view to the discussion helping teachers to understand their own practice and policy. Each question is then answered on the reverse of the card, providing evidence-informed guidance for teachers on how best to respond. For example, the answer to the question above reiterates the right of all children to have a broad and balanced curriculum. It then explains that EAL learners are often already competent language learners, so withdrawing them for classes that build on this foundation of skills to develop English is unlikely to be in their best interests. The card then goes on to suggest things that schools should take into account when setting related policy.

The cards are organised into eight themes, each addressing a different aspect of EAL education. These include management, teaching and learning, parents and community, bilingualism, and so on. Working with a group of 30 teachers, I divided the cards into sets that included examples from each section and asked small groups to appoint a questioner who would lead the discussion with two or three colleagues. The room was abuzz with discussion and debate as colleagues engaged with the cards and considered their responses. Eavesdropping on the conversations was fascinating as it revealed a great breadth of knowledge among colleagues, but also some very typical misunderstandings which allowed for some timely myth busting by the cards.

One colleague commented on how useful the cards were for schools like hers, which do not have an appointed EAL coordinator. Here, like many schools, EAL expertise is largely down to the experience of individual teachers. In the absence of teachers who have taught in schools with large numbers of EAL learners and with good ongoing professional development, knowledge and guidance is rather hit and miss. Because the conversation cards provide evidence informed guidance for real-world scenarios, it means that anyone can lead CPD sessions regardless of their level of experience. While this might not be the ideal situation, it does mean that teachers can be confident that they are getting good advice, especially in the light of the many myths about language learning that get reinforced when expertise is lacking.

Online content

We also looked at the online version of the cards. Here, the same information is presented but can be shared using a projector, so that discussions about the same question can be held in larger groups. Our RIG members were impressed that the online version provides links to other online content that expands and reinforces the messages provided in the answers.

Using the cards in training

Colleagues left the meeting inspired to continue their learning about EAL, and sharing this with their colleagues by using the Hampshire EMTAS EAL conversation cards. Many saw the potential for including short sessions in staff meetings, dealing with a couple of cards at a time, or for one to one personal professional development meetings. We were delighted to have been able to share this essential resource with our colleagues and hope that the cards continue to shape policy and pedagogy for Oxford’s vibrant and diverse language learners.

Where to get a set of cards

You can view a sample of the cards here where you can also find the order form.

[ Modified: Tuesday, 21 November 2017, 4:22 PM ]