Design Technology – How to support EAL learners

Design Technology is a practical subject with elements that require explanation of ideas, development of ideas using a mix of drawing and text, planning and at the end of everything evaluation. These areas are often neglected to be mentioned by senior managers as they often believe that the written element is so small it contributes little to the practical component. However this is not true in the classroom.

In the classroom young people often find it difficult to express the ideas in their heads when the classroom language is English and their first language is the same, but put your self in the shoes of an eight or thirteen year old whose first language is not English.

It is worth thinking about this at the planning stages what tools, including websites and withdrawal classes for pre teaching support, will you ensure you have to hand to support the child through the learning process?

What words will the child need to know to effectively evaluate or predict? How will you ensure that they learn these academic words alongside the other skills and practical language and skills they are learning? What is your plan if some one new is integrated into the class when you have done the groundwork with others?

Pupils who are at the emergent, developing and consolidating levels of learning EAL will benefit from planned interventions and structures to ensure they develop the language skills they need to fully access the curriculum and produce work and portfolios at the appropriate level. This cannot be left to chance it must be planned for, including ensuring if words are to be learnt they are learnt in context. Too often classrooms and workshops that I have observed, have words that may appear random to someone with very or little language of the classroom. If you must put up words, use pictures to show the product/concept and a sentence with it in context for the children to use as their starting point.

One thing you can do is to recognise the benefits of pupils using their first language at all stages of the design process and also support them to keep the language alive as this supports 2nd language acquisition, increases their self-esteem and can lead to decreased bullying incidents.

“Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill.” Stephen Krashen

How many children will be glad to know that, how many of us have sat through really boring lessons?  I like Stephen Krashen’s theory because from my experiences it make sense.  Learning in context, using prior learning as a bridge to the next piece of knowledge is how we all learn, yet these building blocks are sometimes forgotten as are the age and linguistic development of the learner at times.

I agree with all of these saying attributed Krashen below and still find it amazing that I have had arguments with head teachers who cannot see the benefit of a safe environment where it is ok to make mistakes. This particular head was definite that no one was allowed to make mistakes….well… we all know no one is perfect, so lets embrace this fact and make it safe to try, with the skills and backup to make sure the mistake is made once and learnt from. I ask all language teachers whatever your situation,  Is your area safe to learn in?? I expect the knee jerk will be yes, but as reflective practitioners lets look at what our evidence tells us, if the children are cautious about trying, then you know deep inside that the ethos or atmosphere is wrong somewhere.

“Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language – natural communication – in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the messages they are conveying and understanding.” Stephen Krashen

“The best methods are therefore those that supply ‘comprehensible input’ in low anxiety situations, containing messages that students really want to hear. These methods do not force early production in the second language, but allow students to produce when they are ‘ready’, recognizing that improvement comes from supplying communicative and comprehensible input, and not from forcing and correcting production.” Stephen Krashen

“In the real world, conversations with sympathetic native speakers who are willing to help the acquirer understand are very helpful.” Stephen Krashen 

Wishing you all Happy Language Learning

Being Bilingual gives me a chance to keep my identity.

An interesting news item about bilingualism.

Manny Bernal immigrated to El Paso from Chihuahua at the age of 12.  He describes school then as “horrible,” because he didn’t speak any English.  He says he was an “outcast.”  But after his freshman year, he entered the bilingual program at his high school.  He says, “It gives me a chance to keep my identity.  It’s like a comfort zone.  It’s like a place where you know you won’t get harassed.  Where you’re just safe.”

I am sure many of us would not have attributed safety and a comfort zone to students when discussing bilingual education but clearly for this student that is what it achieves. I think we all recognise that it helps to preserve self-respect, keep the persons identity and for this reason we promote the use of bilingualism where it is possible and practical.

I would also agree with their teacher when he says …

…bilingual education isn’t just about learning in two languages.  “I see that students with a bilingual education have become stronger by learning about two different cultures.  It’s a great accumulation of knowledge and understanding.  They’re not just learning from one culture, but from two.”

We are often brought into the literacy debate and as this suggests

Critics of dual language programs say that students who speak other languages should focus on English, since English proficiency is the key to academic success.

Yet studies show that when children develop speaking, reading, and writing abilities in their first languages, they’re better able to learn English.

The difficulty we have as non speakers of the other language is how do we achieve this in our school and in our class.

Many teachers no matter where we live in the world experience these things keeping up literacy whilst developing the child and at the other spectrum make sure they pass the expected examinations.  It’s all a complicated juggling trick but at the very least we must remember when making policy it is about the child.

Finally as the world gets smaller, languages are getting lost none more so than in the region that this news article came from and if we want to keep languages then they must be used.

New Mexico’s history means bilingual Spanish-English programs appeal to an array of families: Anglo, immigrant, and Hispanic.  David Rogers is the executive director of the nonprofit Dual Language Education New Mexico.  He says, “there’s an excitement around it, especially for traditional New Mexican families, who have lost their heritage language over the years and want to bring that back.”

And it’s not just Spanish language programs that are growing.  Eight Native languages are spoken in New Mexico, and some tribes have turned to bilingual programs as a way to preserve their linguistic and cultural heritage.

 

Read the whole story at http://kunm.org/post/bilingual-education-may-help-shrink-achievement-gap-hispanic-students

Minority bilingual children from low-income families demonstrate important strengths in other cognitive domains

Many research papers so far have looked at bilingual middle class children and the benefits bilingualism brings. This is interesting as it focuses on low-income families and suggests that:

The researchers believe that the findings could inform efforts to reduce the  achievement gap between children of different socioeconomic backgrounds. “Our  study suggests that intervention programs  that are based on second language teaching are a fruitful avenue for future  research,” says Engel de Abreu.

“Teaching a foreign language does not involve costly equipment, it  widens children’s linguistic and cultural horizons, and it fosters the healthy  development of executive control.”

They created tests that tested knowledge, memory and their ability to focus when there were distractions.

A total of 80 second graders from low-income families participated in the  study. Half of the children were first or second generation immigrants to  Luxembourg, originally from Northern Portugal, who spoke both Luxembourgish and  Portuguese on a daily basis. The other half of the children lived in Northern  Portugal and spoke only Portuguese.

 

The researchers first tested the children’s vocabularies by asking them to  name items presented in pictures. Both groups completed the task in Portuguese  and the bilingual children also completed the task in Luxembourgish.

 

To examine how the children represented knowledge in memory, the researchers  asked them to find a missing piece that would complete a specific geometric shape. The researchers also measured the  children’s memory, using two different tasks to see how much visual information  the children could keep in mind at a given time.

 

To examine how the children represented knowledge in memory, the researchers  asked them to find a missing piece that would complete a specific geometric shape. The researchers also measured the  children’s memory, using two different tasks to see how much visual information  the children could keep in mind at a given time.

 

The children then participated in two tasks that looked at their ability to  direct and focus their attention when distractions were present. In the first  task, they had to find and match 20 pairs of spacecrafts as quickly as possible,  a task that depended on their ability to ignore all the non-matching  spacecrafts. In the second task, the children were presented with a row of  yellow fish on a computer screen and they  had to press a button to indicate which direction the fish in the center was  facing. The other fish either pointed in the same or opposite direction of the  fish in the middle.

 

Although the bilingual children knew fewer words than their monolingual  peers, and did not show an advantage for representation tasks, they performed  better on the control tasks than did the monolingual children, just as the  researchers hypothesized.

This is all good, beneficial research and something that no doubt will become a greater research area as more research finds benefits in bilingual education.

It is really interesting reading and can be found at: http://scienceblog.com/56290/speaking-two-languages-also-benefits-low-income-children/#ID4t583mCmoIY3P5.99

 

 

 

MFL at the Airport – Wales

How inspirational and motivational is this for the students they are actively involved in using their langauge skills to promote literacy and linguistics.  Well Done the teachers at LLantwit Major School.

http://www.tbicardiffairport.com/en/news/1/265/airport-launch-mfl-project.html