Strategies to support students with language learning needs.

Strategies to support students with language learning needs.

There are three types of children at our school with Additional Language Needs:

  1. New arrivals with no English
  2. Arrivals with various levels of English.  These will need to be able to catch up with their peers and once there will have the ability to communicate in both languages particularly if the first language is used as a bridge to the second particularly in relation to academic language.
  3. Students for whom English is their first language but have difficulty in language acquisition.

Here are some suggestions to help.

  1. Use a language mentor someone who has a good model of language themselves.  If EAL learners they can also be encouraged if of a similar language to keep their 1st language alive.
  2. When planning think about the words that the learner will need to engage in the lessons, actively pre-teach these words.
  3. Remember that each word needs to be taught and applied more than once usually around 5 times before it becomes known. Increase usage of these words until they become embedded.
  4. Never teach a word by itself, if taught in context and with visual or aural aids these will help remembrance and contextual use.
  5. Academic words used frequently in Exams need to be actively taught. EMASUK has a GCSE book that:
    1. Contextualises the words
    2. Gives examples of the words in exam settings
    3. Gives real exam sentences to practice
    4. Use prior knowledge and learning when introducing new ideas. One way to do this is via mind mapping or by video capturing a conversation where the children answer questions that draw out their knowledge. (NB the teacher needs to give the questions as a starting point). Specifically for EAL children you can use Two can Talk where the mentor or buddy can ask questions in English, have it translated into their peers language. The peer then answers via the keyboard in their first language and it speaks aloud in English. This can be captured via the PDF icon so that as a teacher you have a record of their discussion.
    5. Learn how to say the learners name properly.
    6. If you cannot understand them then ask them to repeat it, if necessarily ask in a different way.
    7. Make sentences short and clear. Sentences with too many parts of it will confuse, some students will not know which part to complete.
    8. Allow the student time to answer and don’t show impatience of yourself.
    9. Repeat/ Recast  the answer so that the children can hear the correct pronunciation or sentence structure.
    10. Use a variety of activities to engage the learner including visual and hands on activities to support the oral instruction.
    11. Use scaffolding to develop their language further.
    12. Change plenaries to a variety of feedback sessions not just Question and Answer sessions and recast where necessary.
    13. Allow extra time if necessary

Promoting bilingualism supports other language learning

One of the benefits of promoting bilingualism in ones own country I believe is that it gives that underlying support for languages.  It subtly says it doesn’t matter what your first language is we can communicate and are willing to meet you half way. It doesn’t mean we are going to bend over backwards to accommodate you and neither should it influence the countries social, financial or political aims, but, become a tool with which to get a message across to your neighbour.

This story about Canada shows this well. The country is clear that its languages are French and English but that doesn’t stop the need for other languages to be incorporated into everyday lives.  I would suggest that this is very similar to Wales where English and Welsh are the languages within its community for communicating with everyone, but there is still the celebration of other more diverse languages also within each smaller community. Currently they report that almost 200 languages are spoken in Canada and 17.5% of this community are bilingual

In one school that I worked with the Head clearly told all members of our community that the language for communication within our school was English.  This didn’t stop us celebrating Greek and Turkish festivals, Divali or St Davids day or in assemblies sharing another language but what it did do was to make us all richer in the knowledge and cultures of others, less fearful of the unknown and proud of our own heritage wherever that may have been from.

It let me experiment with language allowing me occasionally to call the register and asking the children to respond in their preferred language. Learning how to say a phrase in one language and then everyone in the class to use that phrase for a month. More difficult in secondary when each class would choose  a different phrase so I would have to remember which it was.

English and Mandarin Bilingual school

Interesting video showing students from two language backgrounds learn together while instruction is systematically delivered in two languages. At Ardmore, students enrolled are from English and Mandarin speaking backgrounds.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=MgzNAH5uoWA&feature=endscreen

What is bilingual education – research

As I have posted the other two papers I though that posting the first one that discusses what bilingualism is may be useful as a starting point to discussion particularly for new teachers.

Summary:

What is bilingual education and what purposes does it serve? This paper aims to introduce bilingual education and clarify why there are such diverse patterns of languages used in education. Although education in only one language is taken for granted in some regions of the world, there is still the question of what purpose it serves. In other regions bilingualism or multilingualism is more common, resulting in different types of bilingual education. Language education reflects largely unstated government policies, mainstream cultural values, and minority group aspirations. Their diverse aims result in monolingualism or various types of bilingual education in school systems around the world.
This paper briefly introduces bilingual education and various purposes behind it. Then a second paper will show how various school systems in Japan and the world can be analyzed into types of bilingual education. Weak or strong forms of bilingual education will be distinguished in terms of bilingual outcomes among students. Finally, a third paper will take a pedagogical approach, offering lesson plans to guide non-native speakers of English in doing the analysis themselves. Ten realistic cases of school systems in Japan and the world will be presented for analysis. A worksheet for students to construct a paragraph will add further criteria to decide the type of bilingual education. Utilizing the list of ten varying aims of bilingual education in this paper, and the chart of ten types of bilingual education detailed in the second paper, by completing the convenient worksheet with ten items in the third paper, the ten cases or any other school system in the world involving different languages can be analyzed according to established criteria in the discipline of bilingualism.
Key words: bilingual,multilingual, monolingual, assimilation, minorities, education

Understanding Bilingual Education 1. Analyzing Purposes of Bilingual Education (This paper) 2. Analyzing Types of Bilingual Education (coming soon) 3. Analyzing Cases of Bilingual Education (coming soon)

 

Introduction to Bilingual Education

Bilingualism is the study of languages in contact, typically in situations where people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds share the same space. Bilingualism was analyzed into four levels in another paper: individual, family, societal, and school levels (McCarty, 2010b). Bilingual education is bilingualism at the school level. It is not to be confused with bilingual child-raising (Pearson, 2008; McCarty, 2010a), such as speaking two languages to an infant systematically at home, which is bilingualism at the family level. Bilingual education should involve teaching in two or more languages in a school, that is, more than one language as the medium of instruction for students to learn regular school subjects.

However, other levels of bilingualism, including their cultural dimensions, do influence bilingual education. All people have a cultural identity and a linguistic repertoire, the languages they can use to some extent. Grosjean (1982) explains that “language is not just an instrument of communication. It is also a symbol of social or group identity, an emblem of group membership and solidarity” (p. 117). As a result, the attitudes people have toward different languages tend to reflect the way they perceive members of the other language groups.

Furthermore, languages have a relative status or value as perceived by the majority of a society. Languages are regarded as useless or attractive according to the economic power or cultural prestige attributed to them by the mainstream of a society, which tends to privilege national or international languages. Native languages of children of immigrants may seem to be of no use, and tend to be disregarded, while languages that are valued by the mainstream society tend to be used in education. However, Sweden has offered educational support in 100 languages (Yukawa, 2000, p. 47), while Japan’s limited support has been nearly all in the Japanese language. This shows that it is not a matter of wealth but of the dominant way of thinking in the nation. The contrast in treating minority students can be as stark as a choice between assimilation and multicultural policies (Grosjean, 1982, p. 207).

 

Various Purposes of Bilingual Education

There are “varying aims of bilingual education” because it “does not necessarily concern the balanced use of two languages in the classroom. Behind bilingual education are varying and conflicting philosophies and politics of what education is for” (Baker, 2001, p. 193). These different purposes then lead to various actual school systems of monolingual or bilingual education. Ten typical aims of bilingual education were cited by Baker:

Varying Aims of Bilingual Education
  1. To assimilate individuals or groups into the mainstream of society.
  2. To unify a multilingual society.
  3. To enable people to communicate with the outside world.
  4. To provide language skills which are marketable, aiding employment and status.
  5. To preserve ethnic and religious identity.
  6. To reconcile and mediate between different linguistic and political communities.
  7. To spread the use of a colonial language.
  8. To strengthen elite groups and preserve their position in society.
  9. To give equal status in law to languages of unequal status in daily life.
  10. To deepen understanding of language and culture. (adapted from Baker, 2001, p. 193)

As can be seen from the above list, there are many and diverse purposes for conducting school programs that are called bilingual education, according to the way of thinking of decision makers in different cultures. Grosjean summarizes how implicit government policies affect the languages used in education: “Depending on the political aims of the authorities (national or regional), some minority groups are able to have their children taught in their own language, while others are not” (1982, p. 207). “If the government’s aim is to unify the country, assimilate minorities, or spread the national language, more often than not minority languages will not find their place in education” (p. 207). Whereas, “if a society wants to preserve ethnic identities, give equal status to all languages and cultures in the country, revive a language, teach a foreign language more efficiently, or make its citizens bilingual and bicultural, it will often develop educational programs that employ two languages and are based on two cultures” (p. 215).

 

Conclusion to the First Paper on Bilingual Education

As Grosjean identifies the key issues above, the concerns of bilingualism researchers and practitioners shine through. A society may be judged by how it treats its minorities or protects the human rights of its vulnerable members. Some purposes for selecting languages to use in education may be better than others from both ethical and pedagogical perspectives. In any case, analyzing the diverse purposes behind the languages that appear in schools can deepen the understanding of resulting educational systems in the world, and possibly suggest improvements in terms of bilingual education.

“Teachers have an amazing opportunity to look at parallels between the education systems of New Zealand and Wales.

Following from post about the New Zealand teachers coming to look at the bilingual system in Wales, they are now here and will be looking at the similarities and differences between the two systems. It will be a unique opportunity for them to see the good practice in both and use this knowledge to improve language learning and bilingual education so I for one will be keeping a close eye on the results.

“The opportunity to swap stories, compare approaches, and form networks makes this an invaluable exchange for those charged with empowering the next generation of first language speakers in both countries.”

Some of the highlights of the report are below.

“I tailor my reo to suit, so for a child who has English as a second language and is new to New Zealand it could be less than for a Maori child who speaks some reo at home,” she said.

“Some kohanga reo [pre-school classes] only take children who speak reo at home so learning between kohanga and home can be consolidated.

Nichola McCall, 27, from Manurewa High School, Auckland, who is making her first
visit to Wales, said: “I want to speak to community leaders, principals and
teachers in Wales and find out how they manage to get that equality between the
two languages.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-19757643

Reading Guidance

Following on from the last blog about reading.  I thought about the types of questions I would ask my EAL readers, or indeed other readers, about the books they have read. Most questions need to be open questions otherwise the reader doesnt have the opportunity to tell you what they gained from the book. There is nothing worse than 30 replies of my book was …… written by ….. I liked it …..because and then the reason doesnt really show you what they have enjoyed, liked etc.  This set of questions is just here to help you stretch them and give you some ideas. If you have further suggestions please add to the comments.

After starting off with finding out the name of the book and author, find out what the book was generally about and if they have been taught about genres what genre/style is it e.g. mystery. If they have been on an end of term break you could ask where they read the book, in bed, outside on the grass, on the beach etc.

Then to encourage further discussion

  • How different was it to how you thought it would be before you read it? … some choose books from pictures on the front and then find the story doesn’t match at all.
  • Was the cover a good cover to let you know what the story was about?
  • For more advanced readers was the book  as good as the back cover details led you to believe?
  • Did you want to read it right to the end ….if not what made them feel this way but what kept them going if they did… I was given the Water Babies by Charles Kingsley as a child after an operation in hospital.  I couldn’t read it then and havent been too since as it all seems to far-fetched, although I have tried many times I get as far as the chimney sweeps and that’s it .
  • What was your favourite part of the book?  This may be a line, a character, a part of the story try to draw out as much information as possible.
  • Is it like a story or stories you have read before? …..maybe they have read a similar series or style
  • What caught your attention? …we often tell them that the first line must when writing, but it is not necessarily the same when reading ?  It may have been something much further through the book.
  • Which bits didn’t you like? ….this gives you further ideas of the types of books they may enjoy and ones to start to drop.
  • What was your favourite character? Why
  • What character didn’t you like? Why
  • Did you read the bits you didn’t like? …… If it is gory I don’t.
  • Did it remind you of a celebration you celebrate ?(i.e.)This may help draw out something about their cultural background
  • What was different about this book … if it’s a series has one of the characters shown a different side to their character, is the adventure in a different land which is different to either this country or the previous country they lived in?
  • Would you read books from this author again?  Why/Why not ….I did love Enid Blyton and the adventures of the characters, probably why I like Agatha Christie’s Poirot in adult life.
  • What made you think about the book now you have finished it … they may have liked it so much they want to read more or it was so awful they don’t want to read similar stories again.  My daughter was sent home from school with the book ‘There a monster under my bed’. We duly helped her read it but at 20 we all still remember the nightmares it gave her because it made her think there may be something under the bed?

Further ideas

  • Take the first line of the book and create a whole new paragraph for a new story
  • Take their favourite line and use it to create a mini story
  • Take their favourite character and write a character profile
  • Reset the story in another setting e.g. if they come from or speak Chinese set in China what differences would that make to the story?
  • If they were the author show the changes they would make to make it better… this could be as simple as a new title or more in-depth by adding a new character.

For older children or more advanced readers

  •  Take a children’s author e.g. Enid Blyton and compare with a  similar Adult author e.g. Agatha Christie and look at the similarities in the plot , characters, locations etc.
  • Write a short synopsis to replace the information o the back cover of the book
  • Find out the authors history and work out what aspects of this are within their work e.g. location, if they worked in a tax office maybe the story is set within this industry etc.

Literacy EAL – Reading Guide

Reading allows us to be active and think about what the person has written. We then have to decode the words and sentences to make sure that we have understood what the writer intended.

Straight away you can see that the EAL learner needs to have the following skills to:

  1. read the words correctly
  2. understand the construction of the sentence
  3. interpret what that string of words in that formation means to the rest of the population
  4. create an accurate picture of what that means where description is used to describe a situation, object or feeling

We are asking a lot of a monolingual but for a bilingual or multilingual child this becomes more difficult.

Add this to the four types of knowledge that the reader needs:

  1. Phonic  awareness (what each letter sounds like)
  2. Grammatical knowledge (Knowledge of sentence structure and the symbols we use to demonstrate this… such as !, ?, ” “)
  3. Knowledge of context (know about the culture, world especially of the area where they are learning, and topic)
  4. Word recognition and graphic knowledge (what the sounds look like when in written form)

In real life in the classroom this can be presented as:

  1. Difficulty decoding words
  2. Not understanding the vocabulary
  3. Confusion of words
  4. Not understanding something, for example, that the writing may be a joke or irony
  5. Having no background cultural information so it may be difficult to reach the true meaning easily.

Read for Meaning

In order to support this in the classroom if we can encourage reading for meaning that will encourage the EAL reader to take a risk by guessing a meaning to make accessing the text easier. If the book needs cultural background, input this knowledge beforehand as a precursor to allow even greater understanding when the reader eventually reads the book.

Pre-Teach

Support this further by pre-teaching any sentences with an idiom included such as if the book refers to a senior moment – pre teach the learner that this means a memory lapse or a momentary confusion in someone who is no longer young is a senior moment.

More idioms

lose heart

Make the grade

Step up a gear

It’s raining cats and dogs.

Finally look at the reading environment

  1. Have bilingual books in the target language to support both the learning language and continue to support their first language
  2. Have a resource box with texts at different challenge levels and interests
  3. Where possible increase the versions available by having a simplified version.
  4. Ensure access to dictionaries or translation software to develop their language acquisition.

Have you any good examples you would like to share with us?

Advice for my first MFL lesson as an NQT – UK

I saw this and wondered if anyone had any ideas to suggest.

Hi All,  I am starting my NQT job next week and am looking for some advice, particularly regarding my introductory lesson with each class. I definitely want to do something on classroom rules. I just wondered if anybody has done this successfully before and how you went about it? Did you use the TL throughout or stay in English?  Thanks for your help, H

Reply at: http://community.tes.co.uk/forums/t/585859.aspx

Personally I think with all first lessons you should establish your expectations and where possible involve them in the rule setting.  However know the schools rules otherwise  they could try to trip you up.

It’s also good to let them know why they have to be followed i.e. they want everyone to listen to them when it is their turn etc. Also what the sanctions are if they are not followed, again quote school procedure and be prepared to follow through anything you say. Your confidence and tone will let them know that you mean it.

Remember that it also fine to put it on the lesson plan and take the time it needs to establish your rules. After this quickly praise anyone following through the right way usually 5 praises to a negative works.

NQT – Help I have an interview …What shall I do?

This time of year reminds me of my degree show, just as I was preparing for it I was called to the professors office as there was a phone call for me. I was being invited to a job interview which was two days away and this just coincided with the middle day of my degree show and examinations. My mind went mad what should I do first, how can I get both things done? Luckily on that particular day I only had one verbal test which the professor changed to the day before, so off I went…luckily I was chosen and my teaching career was started.

If you are in the same place here is some advice particularly for language interviews.

  • If you have any questions ring up or email  to clarify  the position
  • Where possible find out about prior learning
  • Are you co-ordinating languages as part of the position?
  • Know the up to date curriculum and where appropriate suggest exemplar lessons to support any changes.
  • Find out the year group you will be teaching and relate the curriculum to this group including, aims and objectives.
  • Think about objections e.g. some parents and teachers think teaching a child another language rather than English is the wrong thing to do so will do all they can to object…how can you over come this?
  • What is the heads view?
  • Know the benefits of MFL or EAL especially that: good practice for MFL/EAL  is good practice for everything else.  (Many benefits of bilingual learning are now to be found on this blog and the internet)
  • Most importantly enjoy what you are doing.  If you enjoy it, your enthusiasm comes across and the children enjoy their learning.
  • This is probably one people will say you shouldnt say that, it is obvious, but having been in the position of interviewer, here goes.  Wear appropriate clothing for the demonstration lesson you want to deliver thereby show your professional clothing choice. Some people plan e.g. a walk around the grounds in trousers that drag in the ground, shoes that are unsuitable for walking and then are uncomfortable throughout the rest of the interview.  Both themselves and the interviewer do not feel they have got the best out of each other.

If part of the interview is the demonstration lesson, try to find out the normal expectations e.g. are the aims clearly shown, is the three-part lesson expected, the number in the class, the age group. What they would normally doing is a good place to start …if you have no ideas…because you could support current learning. Find out what they expect via lesson planning and if possible use their normal proforma – showing that you could fit right in helps. Know where what you are doing fits in the curriculum and what could come before or after it.

In some situations you may be starting off MFL or EAL in the school for the first time…unlikely but it has been known… in this case be aware that governors may want to ask questions re the curriculum and what you hope the MFL/EAL curriculum to look like in thats chool in say three-five years once you have embedded your ideas.  As I said more likely for a full co-ordinators role or Head of Department role, but it aware it can happen. For example just because there was a member of staff in the school when the job was advertised who was to be the co-ordinator, it doesn’t mean they will be there when you take up position for all sorts of reasons.

Finally make sure you enter the primary language awards and show off all of your good work. www.languageawards.com or facebook primarylanguageawards.

 

 

Study shows bilingual students have better attention – USA

This is really interesting the research shows that again being bilingual is of great value.  Instinctively I know this but it is great to see that there are people out there researching it to give us the evidence base. This should help pupils all over the world as education establishments realise it is unfair to almost block out the pupils first langauge but instead embrace it, celebrate it and use it as the cornerstone for integrating into their establishment and for teaching the pupil their preffered establishments language.

It reminds me of when I moved from Wales to England and taught in London where there was a predominantly Greek Cypriot Community both at school and in the surrounding area and being really surprised when the then HeadTeacher stood in Assembly and said I have done  a survey and in this school we have 37 langauges but the schools langauge is English and I expect everyone to comply with this.  This was great for me as a new teacher because it made it easier for all, and she had the balance right becasue we also had a cultural day which was almost unheard of at the time run by the parents. The pupils were able to dress in their clothes, eat their food, and generally share their customs.  It was the first time I got to try and understand the Greek style of Meze eating -and I was an adult, but loved it.

This is the article that dug out that lovely memory.

Speaking two languages fluently helps improve attention, according to new Northwestern research findings.
The research, which was published April 30 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, studied 25 monolingual and 23 bilingual incoming high school freshmen.

Viorica Marian, NU department chair of communication sciences and disorders and the study’s author, said researchers believe that in bilingual people’s brains, both languages are constantly active.

When bilingual people speak or listen, they have to learn to subconsciously block out the other language processing center. In everyday life, this translates to better attention.

Researchers first measured the subjects’ proficiency to confirm their language fluency. All monolinguals spoke only English and all bilinguals spoke only English and Spanish.

Researchers connected the subjects’ brains to electrodes that measured the sound waves generated in the brain stem, a part of the brain that connects to the spinal cord. Subjects listened to a simple sound, the syllable “Da” repeated several times. For this part, both groups’ brain waves looked similar, Marian said.
However, when researchers added background noise in addition to the sounds, they found that bilinguals were better able to block out the extra noise.

“When a background noise was incorporated, like in a noisy restaurant, bilinguals showed an advantage over monolinguals, suggesting that bilingualism helps individuals process sounds better,” Marian said.

Marian said that recently, other researchers have shown similar effects in other sections of the brain, but she said the brain stem is different. Because it is a primitive structure in the brain, this research also indicates that these abilities may be one of the brain’s natural and basic functions.

In addition to the sound tests, researchers also gave participants cognitive tests of attention. Marian said the participants whose brains were the best at blocking excess noise also showed the best attention.

“So it seems to be this highly interrelated system,” Marian said. “The biological system influences function and the function influences the biology.”

She added that new research has shown that with each language someone learns, it becomes easier to learn a further language.

Marian, who grew up speaking Romanian and Russian and later learned English, said her future research will focus on people who have become bilingual later in life, such as during high school or college. She said she hopes that demographic changes in the United States will make bilingualism more common.

dschlessinger@u.northwestern.edu