User blog: Astrid Dinneen
Part-time PhD student Sarah Coles is currently researching UK-born children’s lived experiences of growing up in more than one language. In this blog, she considers the place of the home language in the linguistic landscape of bilingual children from linguistic minority communities.
My research focuses on the development
of both first language (L1) and English (L2) of bilingual children growing up
as members of linguistic minority communities in an L2 context. It’s a longitudinal study that follows a
small sample of bilingual children through their first year of schooling. Using picture sequences, I elicit stories
from each child, one in L1 and another in English, their L2. This will be done once at the beginning of
the fieldwork phase and again at the end.
In this way, I hope to be able to identify how the children’s two
languages evolve over time and to document any shift in dominance from one
language to another that may occur. I
will also work with each child to explore their lived experiences of growing up
in two languages. Additional contextual
information, including the detail of their own language use, will be gathered
from the children’s parents. Ultimately,
through the children’s own narratives, I hope to deepen practitioners’
understanding of bilingual children in the Foundation Stage and to pinpoint
some practical ways in which support for such children might be tailored to
improve their engagement with their learning.
Setting the scene: two
broad-brush models of bilingual development
Across the globe, monolingualism is not the norm for all
children; exposure to more than one language and bilingual development from an
early age is in fact more prevalent than a monolingual model. Children may experience different routes in
their journeys to bilingualism dependent on their immediate family contexts. Some children will be born into households
where each parent speaks a different language and the child has access to both
from birth. This might be described as simultaneous
bilingualism. Other families may be part
of a settled immigrant community and the child may experience a monolingual
start, being exposed to a minority language at home and, later in their
development, the majority language outside of it. This would describe sequential
The outcomes for children growing
up in bilingual settings are varied. Some
will go on to develop comparable skills - receptive and productive – in their
two (or more) languages and will be able to function in different contexts –
school, home, community – equally well in both/all. At the other end of the spectrum, it is just
as possible for a child to have exposure to two (or more) languages yet to
learn to speak only one themselves.
The possible impact of differential linguistic prestige
There are various factors that may
influence the course and outcome of a bilingual child’s language
development. One that seems to be significant
relates to people’s perception of the relative prestige of the child’s two – or
more - languages. A child from a linguistic
minority community may experience a monolingual start to life with exposure to
the minority language in the home from their main care-givers from birth. Later, and because it is the language of
schooling, the child is required to develop a second, additional language,
English. For such a child, the second
language is where the cultural capital resides, it being the language of the majority
community. Because of its sociocultural
dominance over the minority language, it is often the case that this second
language becomes the child’s preferred one, eventually replacing their first,
This is a scenario experienced by
many children of Hampshire’s UK-born ethnic and linguistic minority communities. They may, in their early years, be exposed to
– let’s say – Nepali at home but later, when they start school, English. From that point onwards, families may notice
their child gradually ceases to use Nepali, preferring to respond in English
even when addressed in first language (L1).
This end result is sometimes referred to as ‘passive bilingualism’
although as De Houwer (2009) notes there is “nothing passive about
understanding two languages and speaking one”.
The possible impact of quantity of input experienced
A second consideration is the quantity
of language input experienced by the child.
In a monolingual context, the language of the home is the same as the
language of the wider community and – often – of education too. Everywhere the child goes and everyone they
meet speaks the same language. Hence the
child has multiple models of the same, single language. In contrast, linguistic minority children born
in the UK may have exposure to L1 at home and L2 (English) outside of it. Hence their overall exposure to L1 is – in
most cases - reduced.
The impact of reduced exposure to
each of the bilingual child’s two languages has been explored by researchers
with an interest in child language development.
One thing that’s emerged is the observation that a child’s lexicon (the
words they know and use) in each of their languages reflects the amount of
exposure the child has to each language – which is typically less for each
language than the total exposure to their one language experienced by a
monolingual child of similar age. When
their vocabularies in both languages are combined, however, the overall picture
of these bilingual children’s lexical development has been found to be on a par
with their monolingual peers.
Further, research has identified
that if the words known by a bilingual child are listed, only about one third
represent words that are translations of each other; i.e. two thirds of the
words a bilingual child knows in one of their languages are known only in that
language and are not shared with the child’s other language. This is likely to be directly related to differences
in the contexts in which each language is used and the communicative purpose being
The possible impact of context
Some researchers have found there to be discrepancies
between UK-born bilingual children’s skills in L1 (the heritage language)
compared with those of children of comparable age but growing up in a
monolingual context. They suggest that
the L1 skills of bilingual children growing up in the UK are unlikely to reach
a level comparable to monolingual children growing up in country of origin. This, they say, is largely due to reduced
exposure to the heritage language from adult L1 models who may themselves be
experiencing language loss due to lack of use.
The overall outcome, some have suggested, is likely to be ‘incomplete L1
Elsewhere in the literature, the notion that ‘incomplete first language development’ exists at all attracts criticism. Some have argued that all intergenerational first language transmission, including that which takes place in monolingual settings, evidences change. According to this view, what others may see as ‘errors’ in L1 in fact represent “normal intergenerational language change accelerated by conditions of language contact” (Otheguy, 2016). According to this view, in immigrant populations new L1 norms will naturally develop, resulting in divergence between L1 use in an L2 immersion context compared with L1 use in a monolingual, home country context. Hence context has a bearing on the language models to which a bilingual child might be exposed.
The possible impact of the language modelled
Another important consideration when it comes to a child’s
language development is the nature of the language models to which they are
exposed. Typically, linguistic minority parents
themselves do not function in a monolingual context and this can have an impact
on their everyday language practices.
The result is often an incremental increase in both code-switching (characterised
by swapping from one language to another at word/phrase level) and code-mixing
(combining grammatical structures from both languages) where in their
speech they move in a fluid, natural way between languages, swapping a word or
a phrase here and borrowing a grammatical structure there.
In the literature, code-mixing and code-switching are identified
as common linguistic practices amongst bilingual populations. Having been found to be rule-based and
systematic, code-switching and code-mixing are these days viewed in a
favourable light as opposed to the deficit view that prevailed in the past that
stigmatised them as “…the haphazard embodiments of “language confusion”
Although limited in terms of the number of empirical studies into the impact on bilingual children’s language development of code-switching and code-mixing by their parents, research suggests that bilingual adults frequently engage in these practices in interactions with their children. This is in line with trends identified in the broader sweep of studies into bilingual code-switching and code-mixing. What it means for a child growing up in more than one language is that they are likely to experience code-switching and code-mixing in language inputs modelled by family members and other significant adults around them. This may in turn prompt them to code-switch and code-mix themselves in their own speech.
Code-switching and code-mixing in
parental inputs appear to influence L1 development in children growing up as
members of language minority communities in other ways too. Some studies have found a negative
correlation, with higher rates of code-switching and code-mixing by parents resulting
in lower comprehension and production vocabulary sizes in young children. Others have identified that code-switched
input, arguably more challenging to process than input in a single language,
has positive outcomes but only for those children with greater verbal working
memory capacity who are capable of processing it.
What this means for my research
To draw to a close, the above
whistle-stop tour illustrates that bilingual language development is a complex,
multi-faceted phenomenon. It is affected
by multiple influences, each impacting in different ways and to different
degrees on the individual child in their own specific context. Through my research, I make space for a small
sample of UK-born bilingual children to explore these differences and to focus
on their first-hand experiences of growing up in more than one language. Once this has happened, any findings relevant
to practitioners working with young, UK-born bilingual learners will be shared
so that all bilingual children in Hampshire schools and settings receive a Year
R experience that is sensitive to their developmental needs.
De Houwer, A. (2009). Bilingual
first language acquisition (1st ed., Vol. 2). Multilingual Matters.
MacSwan, J. (2017). A Multilingual Perspective on
Translanguaging. American educational research journal, 54(1), 167-201.
Otheguy, R. (2016). The linguistic competence of
second-generation bilinguals Romance linguistics 2013 : selected papers from the 43rd Linguistic Symposium on
Romance Languages (LSRL), New York,
17-19 April, 2013, New York.
By Claire Barker
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.
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.
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 Award. In 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.
The dates of our EAL network meetings can be found on our
website. We 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Hampshire EMTAS Traveller Teaching Assistant Steve Clark
The big leap from Year 6 to Year 7
First steps into secondary school can be difficult for any pupil. Secondary schools are usually much bigger environments with more pupils and staff than most primary schools. The differences are noticeable: pupils move between lessons rather than staying in the same room all day and there is a complex school layout and timetables to negotiate. Pupils for whom English is an Additional Language (EAL) and pupils from a Gypsy, Roma, Traveller heritage (GRT) find the transition challenging. Rather than making the leap into the unknown, some GRT pupils withdraw from mainstream education and opt instead for elective home education (EHE).
This year more than any other year it will take a concerted effort from EAL and GRT children, parents, carers and schools to support their transition. The Coronavirus has led to a long absence from school for most pupils and many will find adjusting to the routines of the school day and entering a new learning environment particularly challenging.
Many EAL families may have experienced high levels of anxiety about Covid-19 and isolation especially where they have not been able to go and visit relatives or, in some cases, have any contact with them at all. Some families will have suffered bereavement and their children may benefit from bereavement counselling and/or ELSA support. EMTAS can also offer first language support for schools and families, mentoring for pupils and cultural advice for staff.
Many of our GRT families are fearful of the impact of the virus on their children and their communities and may be very reluctant to allow their children to return to school for this reason. If this is the case, schools can ask for EMTAS support for staff and the GRT communities affected.
Many GRT families are self-employed and due to the nature of their work may be experiencing high levels of anxiety due to the impact of the lockdown on their ability to continue working. Some families may be trying to off-set this by travelling further afield to secure work.
Hampshire EMTAS is, as always, ready to support all concerned with transition. Usually, we offer a transition programme for GRT pupils and EMTAS staff visit pupils in person to support and facilitate their journey from primary school into secondary. However, this year, because of social distancing, EMTAS staff are instead offering this support via telephone and can liaise with EAL and GRT parents and carers this way to answer any questions they may have and to support them with the transition. In October, after the child has started in their secondary school, an EMTAS member of staff will arrange a follow-up visit to see them to check they are settling in.
What EAL and GRT pupils, parents and carers may want to know
Lunch systems - Many schools are cashless and operate a fingerprint recognition system to pay for lunches. It is important to stress to GRT and EAL pupils and their families that their fingerprint will not be used for any other purpose.
Mobile phones - It is important to communicate to GRT and EAL pupils, parents and carers, the school’s expectations around the use of mobile phones during the school day and to clarify how they can contact each other in exceptional circumstances.
Homework - Starting a conversation between school staff and GRT and EAL pupils, parents and carers can prove highly effective in ensuring that any potential problems with completing homework are identified early on and flexible solutions found.
Uniform and equipment - It is recommended that schools have a full and clear conversation with GRT and EAL parents and carers prior to the child starting in Year 7 about what equipment the pupil will need and what is acceptable uniform including jewellery and hairstyle. This may give school staff an opportunity to address any concerns the family may have regarding cost.
Cultural factors should be considered e.g. clarification about the provision of separate changing facilities for PE and modesty -related issues to do with PE kits etc. These are particularly relevant to Muslim students and their families.
Religious observance - Sikh boys may wear a patka (head covering) or other hair covering and may, for religious reasons, not have their hair cut; hijabs may be worn by some Muslim girls. Many Muslim pupils, especially once they are in secondary phase, will observe fasting throughout Ramadan followed by Eid, a day they may request permission to take off school for religious observance.
Attendance - Communication between GRT and EAL pupils, parents, carers and school staff is vital to ensure a good level of attendance (96% or above) is maintained. Clear guidance should be given to GRT and EAL pupils and parents on how to report any absence. Maintaining a good relationship with the GRT and EAL families will help to continue the conversation and to help identify any problems with attendance.
Art, Design & Technology, Food Tech and Science – Discussions between school and parents and carers about funding and the supply of ingredients and materials for these subjects can help avoid any potential misunderstandings or disruption to the pupil’s learning.
Ideas for schools to build confidence from Day One in September
The better prepared a pupil is for their transition, the more smoothly it will go. It is a good idea for the primary school to show pupils a timetable from a secondary setting and explain to them what it means. If the secondary school can provide a digital tour of the school this year to help ease anxieties about what the new environment looks like, this would help pupils gain a little knowledge about what to expect to see on their first day. A short film introducing key staff and the Year 7 Tutor team would allow the pupils to recognise these people more readily.
Communication with EAL and GRT parents and carers in the next few weeks will help identify and hopefully answer any questions the child and parent may have.
Schools running the Young Interpreter Scheme or New Arrivals Ambassador Scheme will be able to guide pupils into supporting their peers’ transition into school.
Hopefully all our EAL and GRT children will transition successfully in September and settle back into the learning environment quickly, making new friends and picking up with old ones. Give them time to think and process as the language and pressures of a new setting may take time to build up their confidence and to participate.
For further advice and guidance please visit the Hampshire EMTAS website and the Guidance Library for EAL and GRT.
Also see our dedicated pages for:
For further information please contact Sarah Coles at firstname.lastname@example.org or the EMTAS office at email@example.com.
By Rights and Diversity Education (RADE) adviser Minnie Moore
The shocking images on our screens of the death of George Floyd have resonated across the globe and led to many protests and demands for change across all areas of society in addressing and challenging systemic racism which is being characterised as an insidious and pervasive pandemic affecting every institution.
In Hampshire, through our education services, we have strived for many years to address discrimination and prejudice and to promote positive attitudes to difference across all our school communities. We support practitioners to enable them to provide a truly inclusive culture in their settings and there are many opportunities that teachers can access to enable them to continue to reflect on and develop existing practice.
Hampshire schools are in the enviable position of having access to a Rights and Diversity Education centre crammed full of teaching and learning resources which enable practitioners to embed good quality diversity education right across the ethos, environment and curriculum in their schools.
“It is firmly embedded in our staff psyche to source our topics from the RADE Centre as it is a treasure trove of resources and information covering a range of issues associated with rights, diversity and community cohesion in the UK particularly.” Headteacher Hale Primary School
CPD opportunities include training on race equality, diversity, equality teaching, pupil voice, prejudicial behaviour and Rights Respecting education and are all available to book in a range of formats tailored to individual school requirements.
'It was a great session. One of the best training sessions I’ve had to do with school including insets in my own setting.” Assistant Head teacher,Tanners Brook Primary School
We have recently produced a Hampshire Toolkit to support schools in challenging and responding to prejudicial language and behaviour which includes a new tracking form, a pupil survey and a leaflet for parents and carers. This is available to download by clicking on this link (FREE to Hampshire schools, please get in touch for a password).
The Voice of our children and young people is key to informing the work we do to embed inclusive practice across our schools and they have been instrumental in promoting equality and challenging discrimination in their school settings.
The Equality and Rights Advocates (EARA) is a group of students from secondary schools across the county who work collaboratively to promote equality and child rights in their schools, based on the nine protected characteristics of the Equality Act and the UNCRC. The group has recently expanded to include primary age children and have been making their voices heard across a range of different platforms across the county. For more information on the work they do please click on this link. We are always looking for new members so please give your students the opportunity to get involved!
For more information on any of the above please contact Minnie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact RADE: Rade.email@example.com
By Hampshire EMTAS Bilingual Assistant Eva Molea
In my Diary of EAL Mum I share the ups and downs of my experience of bringing up my daughter Alice in the UK. After 9 weeks of lockdown and with the happy prospect of school re-opening, I reckon it is time for me to reflect on the last couple of months, especially on the irregular shape that Alice's education has taken.
I would like to start with a big shout out to all teachers, TAs, and school staff in general. You, guys, are my true heroes. Where do you get all your patience from? How can you manage with 30 children, day in - day out for 39 weeks a year, when my own one has driven me round the bend in not even 10 weeks??
Anyway, let's get back on track. When the nation was told that the 20th of March would have been the last day of school for the foreseeable future, I was hit by an education frenzy, so I went to the bookshop and bought:
- as many learning packs as I could possibly carry
- two books that I believed Alice should read (=I wanted to read) and one that she had asked for
- a pack of story cubes
- a notebook as we are always short on paper, and a letter set should she ever feel the need for correspondence
- a jigsaw puzzle of the periodic table of elements
- sketchbook (hoping that Alice would keep a diary of this peculiar period).
Proud of my shopping, I showed it to Alice when she came back from school on the 20th of March, but her reaction was far less enthusiastic than I had expected. I wondered why...
The school had provided her with SATs buster test booklets for maths, SPaG and reading and a grid of activities on Ancient Greece. They had also set tasks on the digital platforms for the children to complete.
On Sunday the 22nd of March, I sat down with my husband (aka the Headmaster) and made a learning plan for the first week: 5 days, 5 subjects per day. I was very proud of my broad and balanced curriculum.
So, on Monday morning, bright and early, we sat down to work. We focused on the booklets and the digital activities and easily Week 1 was out of the way.
On Week 2, having completed all the booklets and digital tasks, we approached the Ancient Greeks grid. I really enjoyed this topic. In Southern Italy, also known as Magna Graecia (Big Greece), Ancient Greek culture had shaped ours well before the Romans, and we learnt the ins and outs of it in school, so it was lovely to be able to share this with Alice. We did some learning on the BBC Bitesize website; we read some myths from books we had brought with us from Italy; we used the story cubes to write Alice’s own myth. But I was not satisfied. So, we had a Greek Day, where we:
- tried to learn Sirtaki, the Greek traditional dance, following some videos on YouTube;
- dressed Alice up as a Greek Goddess (YouTube tutorial);
- learnt the alphabet and the polite words in modern Greek, and looked at how Greek language has influenced most European languages, including English;
- cooked pastitsio and tzatziki, following the recipe that my lovely Greek colleague, Eva P, had recommended. And bought baklava…yum!
This was a great way for the whole family to learn new things and share our knowledge with Alice.
Weeks 3 and 4 of lockdown were the Easter holiday, and my lovely child decided she was not going to touch any schoolbooks and the Headmaster agreed, so I could be off task too and enjoy the sunshine. We did a lot of drawing tutorials on the YouTube channel of the children’s illustrator Rob Biddulph, that are glued in the sketchbook.
Alice devoured one of the books I had bought for her (The boy at the back of the classroom), and tried the other one (When Hitler stole pink rabbit) but found it too hard (or not interesting enough, I’m not sure). Fortunately, dance and gym went virtual that week, so we had enough to keep her entertained. We also played some traditional Italian card games.
Getting back to work on week 5 proved to be quite hard. By then, Alice was feeling very lonely and bored because we did not have the skills to keep her interested and, not to be underestimated, we also had some work to do. But fortunately, the school set more structured homework for the children and we were not sailing in the dark anymore. Having daily work to complete was very helpful, as Alice had some tasks she could carry out independently and ask for the occasional help, whereas when she had to make research on the Internet I was a bit concerned about the appropriateness of content she might come across. For guidance, I also re-read the EMTAS information leaflet on safeguarding and wellbeing which includes online safety .
From week 5 onwards, home learning has been an emotional rollercoaster. We have gone from enthusiastic reactions to some tasks to flood of tears for others, covering all the shades in between. Obviously, had Alice been in school, her learning would have been tailored to her abilities (including the right challenges) and more interesting for her. But I have to say that I really enjoyed learning with her, especially because we all had a very intense EAL experience as we used Italian to investigate, question, explain and reinforce everything and both the Headmaster and I have noticed that Alice’s Italian has improved and her vocabulary has widened, with many new and more interesting words being used. She has also enjoyed listening to audiobooks in Italian and asked me to read to her in Italian at bedtime. EAL parents will be interested in this survey on multilingual language use during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
I pushed my luck and asked her how these 9 weeks had been for her. At first, I got a single word answer: “Boring”. I was expecting that. But then she told me that using Italian for maths had made the subject easier as she still counts in Italian (I didn’t know that), that she felt that her translation skills had improved, and her vocabulary in both languages broadened.
Despite the strangeness of this lockdown period, I really enjoyed playing school with Alice and loved seeing her eyes brighten up when there was something that interested her or when she had finally secured the concepts she was struggling with. But now we all, especially her, can’t wait to get back to school.
PS: The lovely learning packs I had bought have never been touched in these 10 weeks. I will have to force them upon Alice during the Summer holidays…
By the Hampshire EMTAS Traveller Team
Due to current circumstances and the impact on schools of the lockdown, we have decided it would be a good idea to move our celebration of Gypsy, Roma, Traveller History Month (GRTHM) from its traditional month of June to October so no one will miss out on our planned events.
To this end, we are putting on three roadshows across the county. The roadshows will be in Basingstoke, Winchester and the New Forest and there will be something for everyone from talks to exhibitions to Stepping with FolkActive. The roadshows promise to be lively, entertaining and informative and will give our audiences a chance to see how Hampshire EMTAS works with its schools and GRT communities.
The roadshows are drop-in events with talks taking place between 4pm and 5pm after which people will be invited to take part in a stepping activity. Stepping is a traditional form of dance that was initially a type of sport for working class men in the north of England and for Travellers. Each dance is created by the individual dancer and does not follow any set rules – it is energetic and is often described as tapping or drumming with your feet. It requires no previous experience or expertise and when the live music is playing, it is impossible not to move your feet. Come along and join in.
There will also be an exhibition of the Life of Showmen displaying the rich history of Showmen in Hampshire through the decades and a display of all the entries to the a postcard competition (details below).
These promise to be lively events with lots of interaction, music and dance so save the date! The EMTAS Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month Roadshows will take place on:
1st October: The Discovery Centre, Winchester, 3.30 – 6.00pm
8th October: The Discovery Centre, Basingstoke, 3.30 – 6.00pm
22nd October: Applemore College, Hythe, 3.30 – 6.00pm
We hope lots of you will be able to attend a roadshow near you. We will soon be sending out a Schools Comm with further details and we’ll be advertising the roadshows on our website as well as issuing personal invitations to all the schools, families and agencies we work with. We look forward to welcoming you to one of these events and to getting to know you while you enjoy the exhibitions, talks and dancing. We hope to see you there!
The EMTAS GRTHM
As part of our GRTHM celebrations, we are also holding a postcard competition. It’s open to all GRT children and there are three categories: KS1, KS2 and KS3/4. We are launching the competition in June and need lots of support from our schools to make this a big success. The winning postcards are going to be printed and, in liaison with schools, sent to GRT children all over Hampshire in recognition for their improved attendance and/or attainment throughout the year. The winners in each category will also receive a prize and both winners and runners-up will see their postcards included in a full-colour calendar, something they can share with their families and feel really proud of. We will be in touch about the competition and how you can support your GRT children to take part in it very soon.
Meet the Hampshire EMTAS Traveller Team
The EMTAS Traveller Team consists of
Sarah Coles (EMTAS Deputy Team Leader)
Claire Barker (Specialist Teacher Advisor)
EMTAS GRT Officer:
Sam Wilson (Attendance, Admissions and Transport)
Traveller Teaching Assistants:
Julie Curtis with responsibility for ELSA
Our work always has an education focus and comprises working in partnership with schools to support Traveller children and families. At this time of year, we are heavily involved in transition work, supporting the move from infant to junior school for younger GRT children and from Year 6 to Year 7 for older ones. New for 2019-20 is our GRT Excellence Award, a self-evaluation framework that can support schools to develop and embed best practice in relation to their work with GRT communities. Also popular is our new GRT Reading Ambassador Scheme which is having a positive impact on children’s progress in reading in the pilot schools where it has been running. We can also support with attendance, admissions and transport applications and we can provide cultural awareness training to school staff.
PhD student Debra Page updates us on her progress with her research on the Young Interpreter Scheme and invites schools to participate in the next steps of her project – extra brownie points for your EAL Excellence Award submission guaranteed!
Hello readers. I hope that you’re familiar with my name by now. 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. Our aims are to evaluate the scheme’s impact on children’s language use, empathy and cultural awareness by comparing Young Interpreter children and non-interpreter children. Additionally, we need to hear your experiences of teaching children with EAL and of running the Young Interpreter Scheme.
It’s been an interesting 5 months since my last blog and the world has changed. The team and I are busy adapting my PhD to fit in to this new normal. On May 4th, I was invited to speak at the first virtual Basingstoke EMTAS network meeting about contingency plans. It was great that so many were able to join and share their thoughts - and are still interested in being part of the research. If you didn’t make it, you can read some information below, with more details available on the PowerPoint slides from the network meeting (attached).
What’s happened so far?
MSc questionnaire findings
Some of you may recall completing my questionnaire for my MSc. This was about working with children with EAL and experiences of running the Young Interpreter Scheme. The main findings from this are available in my previous blog. The team also presented a poster summarising the findings at the NALDIC conference last November.
Planning and preparation
The first 8 months of the PhD have involved finalising the logistics of the research and data collection. Albeit now plans have had to change and we are working with schools on how best to adapt the data collection. Many decisions had to be made about how best to achieve our aims. This involved a lot of research, reading and discussions about the tasks to assess the children, the who, when and where of data collection, and all the requirements for ethical approval from the University of Reading.
Preparing assessment tasks
We have almost finalised a series of pupil-friendly tasks for the children involved. This includes non-verbal aptitude, vocabulary, empathy, grammar, intercultural awareness, and peer to peer interactions. Our job now is to think about how we can adapt these tasks to fit into schools’ new ways of working following the Covid-19 pandemic. My favourite task is the barrier game where children work together to reproduce a given route on a map of a school and school items. Further examples of the assessments are in the PowerPoint.
Young Interpreter Training
One focus of this project is to evaluate the Young Interpreter Scheme training with possible amendments. We want to see if specific training in word-learning strategies can enhance the set of tools Young Interpreters use with their buddies. After many ideas and discussions, I have modified two short stories to use in session 4 of the children’s training at KS1 and KS2. The stories use a strategy called Word Detective, which is from a book called Word Aware – Teaching Vocabulary. They should provide Young Interpreters with ways to help buddies understand new vocabulary using English. These were made in collaboration with EMTAS and we want them to be useful beyond the research project so please let us know your thoughts.
What would being part of the research look like for schools?
we would need agreement from your Headteacher, and they would need to complete our consent form
the Young Interpreter coordinator would need to identify 10-15 children ready to train as Young Interpreters. In total I aim to work with around 50 YI children and 50 non-YI children of the same age, across 3-5 schools
children need to be in Years 1-6 (some of the assessments we use require children to be at least 6 years old)
I will also assess non-Young Interpreter children of the same age and gender as the Young Interpreters you will have identified. These will be known as control group children and serve as a comparison between children who are Young Interpreters and children who are not
I would need help to distribute pupil information sheets and collect signed parental consent forms
I would need to liaise with you to arrange a suitable time for running the Young Interpreter training over a 4-week period; 1 training session per week
I would need to be involved with the 4th and final training session to deliver the training stories, either in school or via video chat
I need 1 week either side of the Young Interpreter training to complete the tasks with the children – 1 week for the pre-training assessment and another week for the post-training assessment. I will spend this time assessing the children immediately before YI training and immediately after training
6 months later I will liaise with the school to arrange an appropriate week for me to assess the YI and control children again
there are no assessments for teachers or parents to complete.
Adaption of the tasks
We will continue working on how our series of tasks can be adapted in light of social distancing rules and government advice.
Revised data collection plans
The original plans for data collection had me in school now, piloting the tasks with children to allow enough time for refinement before the main data collection in September 2020. Realistically now, piloting will not happen before the end of this school year. Hopefully, I can start working with children in October and complete all data collection in the 20/21 academic year. Watch this space.
Creating a YI diary
We want to capture how frequently Young Interpreters are working with EAL peers, what kind of activities they are doing, and what they enjoy the most. If we can understand what works, and what isn’t being used, this would inform future resources for your school and EMTAS. The number and type of interactions can also be taken into account in data analysis. The idea is for children not to have to write too much, or at all, unless they want to add writing. We are in the planning phase for this and your views on the format are welcomed. Perhaps a weekly view, with example activities where children can tick and draw a smiley face? Or stickers they can use? We want your input on this so it’s useful for you and the children as well.