EDCI 8350 Understanding English as an additional language (EAL) and bilingualism


WELCOME

Welcome to "Understanding English as an Additional Language (EAL) and Bilingualism". In many schools there are classrooms that include students whose first language is not English. This course will introduce a range of knowledge and professional skills to support these students and their families effectively.

This course is divided into four modules:

Module 1: What is bilingualism?
Module 2: Learning English as an additional language
Module 3: Adjusting to a new school culture
Module 4: The experience of EAL students learning English

As you work through the course, you will:

  • begin to understand what it means to be a bilingual
  • learn about the process of acquiring an additional language
  • begin to understand the implications of living in two cultures
  • learn what enables EAL students to be successful learners of English

In several of the tasks you will be asked to observe the behavior and patterns of speech of two EAL students. You'll focus on these students and make specific observations about their development in English. You'll also be asked to look at their backgrounds. Each student's history and personal circumstances influence how effectively they learn English and their future progress.
Choose:

  • students from different language backgrounds
  • students who have been learning English for the same length of time, ideally for one year
  • one student who seems to be struggling with English
  • one student who is making good progress with English and who seems
  • integrated into the life of your school

 

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PREPARATION

If you begin to observe two students at the beginning of the course, you'll find the content of the modules more relevant and interesting.

In Task 2 you will be asked to observe six EAL students, three struggling and three making good progress with English. Ideally, they will all have been learning English for about two years. If you don't have access to six EAL students, you can still complete Task 2 - just give some thought to the sort of problems you'd expect to encounter if you did have six EAL students.

Governors/Board members and non-teaching staff will find it useful to work through the course even if you cannot easily focus on particular students. You can skip student observation activities, although it is useful to talk to teachers about their experiences.

Note: You should gather data about students or colleagues on the basis of informal consent. This means that all involved (e.g., students, parents, colleagues and School Board members) know you are carrying out research to aid you in your own learning. You should make clear what you're researching, how it'll be carried out, how the data will be recorded and what use will be made of it.

COURSE STRUCTURE

This is an independent study program which means your individual starting date and due date are based on your date of registration. Your instructor will advise you of this due date.

This is an interactive online course. Although you will be able to complete some of it just by sitting in front of your screen working through the online material, we will regularly ask you to reflect on what you have learned, and put ideas into practice.

  • Activities - exercises or reflections for you to carry out in front of your computer screen. Unlike a Task, there is no specific end product, and you'll always be able to complete them on your own.
  • Tasks - similar to Activities, but requiring you to put your learning into practice in a specific situation in school.
  • Forms - use to collect the information learned.
  • Resources -

    a) RESOURCE FORMS: Has PDF forms to help you answer questions in the Student Books

    b) RESOURCE FURTHER READING: Includes clarifications about the module.

    c) REFERENCE LINKS: Has links to websites referred to in the module.

    d) DEFINITIONS: Has definitions of terms used in the module.

    e) BIBLIOGRAPHY: The bibliography is located at the bottom of this page that includes books you may check out at your local library.

  • Student Book- for you to record your reflections and send to your instructor.

At any time you may email your instructor with questions or problems you may be having with the material or the web site.

How do I get the Student Book to my instructor?

You will need to email it to your instructor. Download and save the document as described below and then you can enter your own text into the Student Book word document. Your instructor will expect a version of your Student Book as you complete each module. These can be saved by you in your files as well as being sent to your course instructor via email as an email attachment.

How do I save and name the Student Book?

You cannot type your answers on this web site. You must download your Student Book template which is a word document, by clicking on the download link below.

For your Student Book, please use a text document or a Microsoft Word document and type your text there. Title the document like this:

  • NAME OF CLASS
  • NAME OF TEACHER
  • YOUR NAME
  • DATE
  • MODULE1

[NAMEOFCLASS_TEACHERSNAME_YOURNAME_MODULENUMBER.doc ]

like this

6208_DRCLARK_JOHNDOE_MODULE1.doc

Save the Student Book on your computer and complete the assignments on the document and then email it to your teacher.

STUDENTBOOKS

Click here to download all student books

RESOURCES

BIBLIOGRAPHY

REFERENCE LINKS

 

Module 1: What is bilingualism?

MODULE1A Intended learning outcomes for Module 1

MODULE1B Introduction to What is bilingualism?

MODULE1C EAL students in your school

MODULE1D Activity 1: Different groups of bilingual students

MODULE1E What do we mean by bilingualism?

MODULE1F Task 1: Exploring the use of EAL students' languages

MODULE1G Activity 2: Coping in another language

MODULE1H Task 2: Why don't all EAL students succeed?

MODULE1I Activity 3: What affects EAL students’ bilingual development?

MODULE1J Giving children the best chance

MODULE1K Maintaining the home language

MODULE1L Task 3: How parents in your school maintain their children’s home language

MODULE1M What you’ve learned from Module 1:

MODULE1N Congratulations

Module 2: Learning English as an additional language

MODULE2A Intended learning outcomes for Module 2

MODULE2B The path to bilingualism: EAL students and English

MODULE2C Activity 4: Recognizing some typical language learning phases

MODULE2D Task 4: Looking for a pattern in the way EAL students learn English

MODULE2E Activity 5: What helps EAL students learn?

MODULE2F Activity 6: Changing your own practice

MODULE2G What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 2

MODULE2H Congratulations

Module 3: Adjusting to a new school culture

MODULE3A Intended learning outcomes for adjusting to a new school culture

MODULE3B New EAL students in school

MODULE3C Activity 7: EAL students during the adjustment period

MODULE3D Activity 8: Adjustment difficulties in your school

MODULE3E Adjusting to differences

MODULE3F Activity 9: Searching out the differences

MODULE3G Activity 10: What do you expect in your own school?

MODULE3H What are the chief differences that concern and confuse new EAL parents in your school?

MODULE3I Bridging the gap

MODULE3J Task 5: Communicating about possible areas of concern and confusion

MODULE3K What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning in Module 3

MODULE3L Congratulations

Module 4: The experience of EAL students learning English

MODULE4AIntended learning outcomes for Module 4

MODULE4B EAL learners: what you’ll see in the classroom

MODULE4CTask 6: Early learners in the classroom

MODULE4DHow to communicate with EAL students

MODULE4EActivity 11: How you talk to EAL students

MODULE4FCreating a classroom where EAL students feel at ease

MODULE4GActivity 12: What are your own experiences of learning a language?

MODULE4HActivity 13: What makes EAL students feel at ease in the classroom?

MODULE4IWhat have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 4

MODULE4JCongratulations

Module 1: What is bilingualism?

MODULE1A Intended learning outcomes for Module 1

By the end of this module you should:

  • understand what is meant by bilingualism
  • know what affects the bilingual development of EAL students
  • understand why EAL students need to maintain their home language
  • know how parents in your school support the home language of their children
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MODULE1B What is bilingualism?

For the purpose and duration of this course, we will use EAL (English as an Additional Language) as the accepted umbrella term for all programs serving the use and study of English by speakers/readers with different native languages. No matter which acronym (ESOL, ELL, ESL, TESL, ELT or EAL) your school district or state uses, there are suggestions, materials and further research common to the implementation of a successful program.

A variety of educational approaches exist to answer the needs of children whose first language is not English. In countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States, it's possible to find many types of bilingual education. The provision for bilingual students usually consists of support from specialist teachers and assistants. But in some cases, this may be limited, or not available at all. Support therefore rests with the class teacher, who may or may not have specialist advice or past experience.

This course is designed for schools where English as an additional language students spend most of their time in classes that include first language speakers of English and proficient bilingual students.
 

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MODULE1C EAL students in your school

EAL students are placed in English-speaking schools for a variety of reasons. You'll know what these reasons are in your own school. All EAL students share a need to learn English. In other ways, their life experience and educational history may be very different.
They may arrive in your school already speaking some English or needing to learn English as complete beginners. Whatever their level, all EAL students can be described as bilinguals. From now on they need to use at least two languages and will be living in at least two cultures.

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MODULE1D Activity 1: Different groups of bilingual students

Read Resource 1: Assessing the needs of bilingual students. Then make notes in your Student book (1) about the groups of bilinguals that attend your school.

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MODULE1E What do we mean by bilingualism?

Bilingualism is an umbrella term. It covers the range of use of two languages by one person.

There are many myths associated with bilingualism. Chief is that bilinguals are people who use both their languages in a perfectly balanced way in all aspects of their lives. You'll know from working with EAL students, that real-life bilinguals use their languages at different times for different purposes.

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MODULE1F Task 1: Exploring the use of EAL students' languages

Focus on the two EAL students you've chosen for this task. Look back at the Preparation work section to help you choose these students if you haven't already done so.
Observe them at different times in the school day in as many different situations as possible. If possible, observe them talking to their parents or other adults from their language community. Print out Resource 2 to record your observations.

First read Resource 3: How and when bilingual children use their two languages. This will help you to understand more about how your two bilingual students use their languages.

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MODULE1G Activity 2: Coping in another language

EAL students use their two languages in different places and with different people. They also learn each language at different rates. They show varying strengths and weaknesses in each language (speaking, listening and understanding, reading and writing).
Reflect on your experiences as a language learner. It'll help you to understand your EAL students.

Does your experience of language match one of these descriptions:

  • you're bilingual, with your two languages roughly equal or with one much stronger than the other
  • you speak a good level of a second language socially
  • you've had some years of classes at school in a language such as French, German or Spanish
  • you've been to a language evening class because you were going on holiday to that country
  • you have no second language


Using Student book (2) consider your strengths and weaknesses in speaking, listening and understanding, reading and writing your second language. Most importantly, take time to reflect whether you could work or go to school in that language. Try to estimate the size of the gap between how you presently perform and how you would need to perform to function in those situations.

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MODULE1H Task 2: Why don't all EAL students succeed?

Looking at your own language learning experience may have helped you become more aware of the difficulties EAL students can experience in class.

Some EAL students learn English very slowly, while others reach a very basic level of English and then find it difficult to progress further. Perhaps they find it difficult to become proficient readers and writers.

In this Task, you'll investigate six pupils who've been learning English for around two years. As in Task 1, half the students should be successful learners and half should be having some difficulty progressing. Ask a colleague to help you choose these students. Remember to obtain informal consent.

Reflect on each student's level of English and try to suggest reasons why some of the students are further ahead in their learning than others. You can print out Resource 4 to note your thoughts. If you don't have access to this number of EAL students, then reflect on as many as is possible. Ask your colleague for their views (take a copy of Resource 4 to note their views).

Once you've completed this task, record your findings in your Student book (3).

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MODULE1I Activity 3: What affects EAL students’ bilingual development?

Look closely at the different circumstances that might affect EAL students' bilingual development. Use the two students you chose for Task 1 as the focus for this study.
Print out Resource 5, which you'll be using to record your thoughts. Make your own observations and ask others for their views. To help with your observations, first look at the following questions and relevant Resource after each question.

Home language considerations:

  • What language(s) do their parents use at home? Resource 6.
  • Do the students take home language lessons outside school? Resource 7.
  • Do the students mix with friends outside school who speak their home language? Resource 8.
  • Do their parents belong to a minority ethnic community? Resource 9.
  • Do their parents speak a high prestige language? Read Resource 10 and Resource 11.

English language considerations:

  • How many times have the children moved country and school? Resource 12.
  • At what age did they start to learn English? Resource 13.
  • Do their parents feel at ease in school? Resource 14.
  • Do the students take part in any after-school activities? Resource 15.
  • Do you suspect that either of your targeted students has learning difficulties? Resource 16.

You're trying to pinpoint what has supported your chosen students in developing both their languages, or what prevents them from learning one of their languages beyond a basic level. This list is obviously not comprehensive. Note that other important factors include cultural expectations and differences, time spent in the country and peer pressure.

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MODULE1J Giving children the best chance

You'll now have an understanding of why some EAL students have difficulty in reaching balanced bilingualism. Each child has a unique set of life experiences and a different personality. It's not easy to predict which student will be successful.

In general, bilingual students are at a disadvantage if their home language and culture aren't recognized or valued at school. If students don't grow and develop in both their languages, the bilingual experience won't have a positive outcome for them.

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MODULE1K Maintaining the home language

One of the responsibilities of the school is to support parents in sending their children to classes and activities in their home language.

EAL students need rich home language experiences in all sorts of settings if they're going to maintain and develop their home language. The health of the home language and success in learning English are necessary for EAL students to achieve the best possible bilingual outcome.

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MODULE1L Task 3: How parents in your school maintain their children’s home language

This is an information-gathering exercise. Using Resource 17: Ways of maintaining the home language to help you record what you find, list all the ways parents of EAL students in your school help to maintain their children's home language. To make this list as comprehensive as possible, you'll need to talk to colleagues or parents, or undertake some simple research. Outline the activities or classes provided by parents for each of the home languages of your EAL students. Print out a new grid for each language.

The results of this Task should help you to advise new parents about home language classes and other activities in your locality.

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MODULE1M What you’ve learned from Module 1:

When you've worked through the Activities and Tasks in this module, look again at the intended learning outcomes.

By the end of the module you should:

  • understand what is meant by bilingualism
  • know what affects the bilingual development of EAL students
  • understand why EAL students need to maintain their home language
  • know how parents in your school support the home language of their children

To what degree has this course helped you to achieve these understandings? Use your Student book (4) - save your responses and e-mail your comments to your instructor.

MODULE1N Congratulations

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Module 2: Learning English as an additional language

MODULE2A Intended learning outcomes for Module 2

By the end of this module you should:
  • recognize some typical phases in learning a language
  • understand the typical pattern of learning an additional language
  • know what helps EAL students to learn English
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MODULE2B The path to bilingualism: EAL students and English

EAL students, whatever their level of English, are bilinguals. They use two languages - their home language and English - when they communicate.

In this module, we're concerned with the English part of their bilingualism. When EAL students learn English, they broadly follow the same pattern as they did when they learned their home language as babies.

What's new is they're adding another language to one that already exists. The two languages interact and there is a period of adjustment while the brain sorts out what's going on. First, EAL students have to learn to separate the two languages. Then they have to sort out when and where they need to use each language.
 

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MODULE2C Activity 4: Recognizing some typical language learning phases

Below are examples of three typical phases in learning an additional language. Click on each Resource to find out more about these language learning issues:

  • Resource 18: Switching languages
  • Resource 19: EAL students changing the way they use their languages
  • Resource 20: Transference from the home language

    Are these phases an issue in your school? Do you find that certain language groups retain the sound patterns of their home language? Do you find it difficult to get them to speak standard English?

Ask colleagues with more experience in working with EAL students for their input - including stories and anecdotes about their EAL students. Record your thoughts in your Student book (5).

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MODULE2D Task 4: Looking for a pattern in the way EAL students learn English

Look at Resource 21 and Resource 22 and print out the most appropriate checklist for your school. Indicated any behaviors you have observed in your EAL students and make short notes about anything that strikes you as interesting. Talk to classroom or subject teachers about what they've observed. Maybe one of these behaviors gives them problems. Ask them how they deal with it.
When you've filled in the checklist, use your Student book (6) to reflect on your findings. Make short notes of any patterns you see in the way EAL students learn English (e.g., is it always students with outgoing personalities who learn quickest?).

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MODULE2E Activity 5: What helps EAL students learn?

There's a general pattern in the way EAL students learn English. Teachers may observe differences in how EAL students behave in the early stages of learning. They'll probably see more similarities.
First, read Resource 23, which is a summary of what many people think helps EAL students to be successful learners of English.

Then, reflect on the experiences of your two EAL students to try to find out what helps them learn English and what holds them back. Have their experiences been different? If so, what are the reasons behind these differences? Record your thoughts in your Student book (7). Remember you are trying to find reasons for one student being more successful than the other.

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MODULE2F Activity 6: Changing your own practice
You should now have a better idea of what helps EAL students learn English more successfully. Maybe this will make you want to change how you work with your EAL students. You're in a position to know the histories of your pupils and what issues might prevent them from being successful.

Make notes in your Student book (8) about what to change to help your EAL students learn more successfully, e.g., "speak to my EAL students in a way that enables them to work out any meaning they don't understand."

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MODULE2G What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 2

When you have worked through the Activities and Tasks in this module, look again at the intended learning outcomes.

By the end of this module you should:

  • recognize some typical phases in learning a language
  • understand the typical pattern of learning an additional language
  • know what helps EAL students to learn English

To what degree has this course helped you to achieve these aims: Use your Student book (9) - save your responses and e-mail your comments to your instructor.

MODULE2H Congratulations

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Module 3: Adjusting to a new school culture

MODULE3A Intended learning outcomes for adjusting to a new school culture

By the end of this module you should:
  • know how EAL students may behave during the adjustment period
  • understand why EAL students and parents may feel anxious about your school
  • know how you help EAL students and parents to understand how your school works

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MODULE3B New EAL students in school

When EAL students first arrive at your school, they're entering a new world. It's English-speaking and the people who inhabit it share an unspoken understanding of how it functions. What you and your colleagues think are normal patterns of school life may be very different from what these students have experienced.

EAL students need time to adjust to their new environment. For some students this period of adjustment is very difficult. They respond to the stress by behaving in a number of ways, some quite extreme.

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MODULE3C Activity 7: EAL students during the adjustment period

Read Resource 24: How EAL students behave during the adjustment period. Then go to your Student book (10) and note whether your chosen EAL students show similar behavior.

Then read Resource 25 for more about how schools can support students during this phase.

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MODULE3D Activity 8: Adjustment difficulties in your school

Now you've listened to and read some information on the adjustment period, record the reasons for any major adjustment problems in your school in your Student book (11). Perhaps the EAL students come from groups that share common difficulties or even traumas. Perhaps the major problems lie with the unrealistic expectations of parents? Do these problems usually have a happy outcome?

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MODULE3E Adjusting to differences

You know that EAL students and their parents have to adjust to the differences they find all around them in their new home. Adjusting to the new school is one of the biggest issues in the lives of EAL students. So much of what the school expects may be unfamiliar and strange. Parents of EAL students may also feel confused and unsure. Many things about your school may be different from what they're used to.

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MODULE3F Activity 9: Searching out the differences

Resource 26 shows how a traditional classroom is laid out. Many of your EAL students will have come from schools where classrooms look like this.

Reflect on what this sort of classroom layout says about the teaching and learning that goes on in that school. What is it like to be a student in this sort of classroom? How does the teacher interact with the class? What sort of education goes on in a classroom like this? Record your thoughts in your Student book (12).

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MODULE3G Activity 10: What do you expect in your own school?

You've found out what some of your EAL students expect from school. Now look at your own classrooms and reflect on what they say about the sort of teaching and learning that goes on in your school.
Choose the diagram of a classroom layout most suitable for your own situation:

  • Resource 27: Typical layout of a younger student's classroom
  • Resource 28: Typical layout of an older student's classroom
  • Resource 29: Typical layout of a senior student's classroom

In your Student book (13), write down your thoughts about the teaching and learning that goes on in your chosen classroom. Make observations that are true of your school.

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MODULE3H What are the chief differences that concern and confuse new EAL parents in your school?

New EAL students and their parents are sure to find some differences between your school and what they are used to. In some cases, these differences will be extreme. Your school culture may be very different from the school that their children previously attended.

Parents and students may not recognize many of the activities and practices that are normal in your school, and apparently routine factors such as modes of address, timetables, acceptable behavior, modes of social interaction, etc, may initially seem very alien. Later, you'll investigate how your school attempts to bridge the gap between parents' and students' expectations and what actually happens in your school.

First, note down the issues that seem to cause most misunderstanding in your school. Use your Student book (14) to list these causes for concern and confusion among EAL parents and students. Read Resource 30: Concerns of parents to give you some background information.

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MODULE3I Bridging the gap

Each school and teacher has to take action to bridge the gap between parents' and students' expectations and what actually happens in their school. Your school leadership team will have strategies in place to communicate with new EAL parents. Teachers have to explain how the school works to new EAL students.

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MODULE3J Task 5: Communicating about possible areas of concern and confusion

You've pinpointed the areas in your school that cause concern to parents. You're now going to investigate how your school deals with those areas. You'll need to talk to a trusted member of the leadership team and experienced colleagues.

Find out how the school explains its education policies and practices to new EAL parents. Remember that some of these parents may not speak or read English. Also, find out how teachers explain the way the school works to new EAL students.

Print out Resource 31 to help collate your findings and ideas.

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MODULE3K What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning in Module 3

When you have worked through the Activities and Tasks in this module, look again at the intended learning outcomes.
By the end of this module you should:

  • know how EAL students may behave during the adjustment period
  • understand why EAL students and parents may feel anxious about your school
  • be able to help EAL students and parents understand how your school works

How much has this module helped you to achieve these outcomes? Make a note in your Student book (15) - save your responses and e-mail your comments to your instructor.

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MODULE3L Congratulations

Module 4: The experience of EAL students learning English

MODULE4A Intended learning outcomes for Module 4

By the end of this module you should:

  • be aware of some typical behaviors of an early learner of English
  • be able to communicate with EAL students
  • be able to create an effective classroom for language learning

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MODULE4B EAL learners: what you’ll see in the classroom

Most EAL learners pass through typical phases when they learn English. In Module 2 you looked at three of these phases:
  • switching languages in the middle of sentences or conversations (code-switching)
  • changing the way students use their two languages
  • transferring the features of the home language to the students' English (transference)

There are other typical features of EAL students as they start to learn English. It's important for you to understand these features, as they affect children's behavior. You and the students' parents may become concerned if you don't know that this behavior is normal.

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MODULE4C Task 6: Early learners in the classroom

Using Resource 36 to record your findings, interview two or three fellow teachers, asking if they have noticed any of the following behaviors in their EAL learners (the Resource will help you find out more about each type of behavior):
  • students feeling unable to speak English for some weeks - go to Resource 32: The silent period
  • students refusing to speak English for many months - go to Resource 33: The extended silent period
  • periods when EAL students appear to make no progress at all - go to Resource 34: A language plateau
  • cycles of extreme tiredness - go to Resource 35: Patterns of tiredness
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MODULE4D How to communicate with EAL students

You may believe that there is little to say about how you communicate with EAL students. You just speak more slowly than usual and don't use too many long words. In fact, you can do a lot to help your EAL students to learn English by the way you communicate. You just have to use a few simple strategies.

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MODULE4E Activity 11: How you talk to EAL students

Reflect on how you communicate with your EAL students. In your Student book (16), give short answers to the questions about how you interact with them. Click on the Resources below for some comments and ideas about each question:
  • Resource 37: Giving EAL students speech input at a useful level
  • Resource 38: Intonation
  • Resource 39: Using routine phrases consistently
  • Resource 40: Using idiomatic language with EAL students
Then, after you've reflected on your own practice and read the comments, go back to your Student book (16) and note how you might change the way you communicate in class with EAL students.

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MODULE4F Creating a classroom where EAL students feel at ease

You've seen that small changes in how you communicate can help EAL students learn English. You've found that you can make it easier for them to understand by connecting what you say with something familiar.

Now consider what is the best sort of classroom for EAL students? What makes them feel at ease? What allows them to take risks in trying out their English?

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MODULE4G Activity 12: What are your own experiences of learning a language?

As in Module 1, reflect on the experiences you have had of learning a new language.
Whether you're a proficient user of a language or still know only a few words, the early stages of learning were probably similar. Your experience will help you understand how EAL students feel. This will help you to create a classroom environment helpful to language learning.

In your Student book (17) write short answers to the questions posed.

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MODULE4H Activity 13: What makes EAL students feel at ease in the classroom?
In the light of your reflection on your own experience of learning a language, and from your own observations of beginner EAL students, what do you think makes a classroom a good place for learning English?

In your Student book (18), note your reflections on this. When you've finished, read Resource 41: Creating a risk-taking classroom for further reflections on what makes an effective classroom for language learning.

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MODULE4I What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 4

When you have worked through the Activities in this module, look again at the intended learning outcomes.
By the end of this module you should:

  • be aware of some typical behaviors of an early learner of English
  • be able to communicate with EAL students
  • be able to create an effective classroom for language learning

How much has this module helped you to achieve these outcomes? Make a note in your Student book (19) - save your responses and e-mail your comments to your instructor.

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MODULE4J Congratulations

RESOURCES

These are linked in your outline to take you to further reading and any data forms you might need to help you answer questions

RESOURCE 1: Assessing the needs of bilingual students

The extract below is taken from Assessing the needs of bilingual students, by Deryn Hall.

Teachers cannot assume that all bilingual children are one homogenous group. There are likely to be differing pressures on the pupils’ need to acquire the new language, and these pressures will determine their investment in learning. Bilingual students fall roughly into the following categories:

Elite or prestigious bilinguals

The children of generally upper/middle-class professional parents, who travel abroad from choice – usually for business, academic or diplomatic reasons. There’s no threat to their first language as it is maintained at home and by visits to the home country. For these children bilingualism is viewed as enriching. They are unlikely to become educationally disadvantaged, even if they do not achieve full fluency in their second language.

Linguistic majorities

This large group of students learn a second language either because their schools offer a more prestigious minority or world language, e.g., English in Hong Kong, or offer an immersion program, such as French immersion in Canada.

Bilingual families

Some children come from homes where a different language is spoken by one parent. If this is a minority language then there is no external pressure to become bilingual even though there may be family, cultural or religious pressures, e.g. from grandparents.

Linguistic minorities

This group is likely to be of most concern. Whether they are from refugee or other immigrant families, their home language is likely to have low status or value in the new society. Children from these families are under strong pressure to learn the language of the majority community and need to become competent in speaking, reading and writing for economic survival. They are likely to experience family pressures to take advantage of better educational opportunities, as well as strong pressure to retain their first language and culture.

For children from the Bangladeshi community in the East End of London for example, this may mean learning standard Bengali and mosque Arabic as well as English at school, and retaining the spoken home language of Sylheti.

An international school example of Hall's last point might be: For Israeli children at the International School of Vienna, this may mean learning English and German at school, and retaining the spoken home language of Hebrew.

RESOURCE 2 PDF

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RESOURCE 3 How and when bilingual children use their two languages

EAL students learn and use English in school, socializing with their school friends and in the wider community outside school. They use their home language or languages at home, for talking to relatives, perhaps for religious observance and for socializing with friends of their own age group who also speak their language.
People often think of bilingualism solely in terms of being able to speak a language. For EAL students, you need also to think in terms of bi-literacy. EAL students need to learn to read and write in both their languages. Anything less than that means they are not achieving the best possible outcome for their lives in the future.

One useful definition of what is usually meant by EAL bilingualism is: "In England the term is currently used to refer to students who live in two languages, who have access to, or need to use, two or more languages at home and at school. It does not mean that they have fluency in both languages or that they are competent and literate in both languages."

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RESOURCE 6: What languages(s) do their parents use at home?

Sometimes parents who speak English as an additional language feel that it is better for their children if they switch to English at home. This is a pity for several reasons.
First, they can't offer their children the rich experience of using a home language, which, of course, is one of the best ways of ensuring its maintenance.

Second, a strong basis in their home language helps children to learn another language, eg, English.

Third, the parents' English is often incorrect and so the child is not always hearing the best language model.

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RESOURCE 7: Do the students take home language lessons outside school?

For EAL students to reach the goal of balanced bilingualism, both school staff and parents need to encourage the maintenance of their home language.

It might seem best for EAL students to concentrate all their efforts on English since it’s the language of their education, and perhaps this is true when very young students are learning to read and write. Later, it's vital that EAL pupils are taught to read and write in their home language. The school can help by offering advice about mother tongue classes.

The reason why school staff and parents should be so positive and pro-active about maintaining the home language is that it benefits EAL students in many ways. Home language studies help children to develop a wider vocabulary and to think conceptually. This is the sort of thinking that is needed for problem-solving and critical-thinking activities in school.

Of course, it's a good thing in itself that EAL students have a strong grasp of their home language. Not least, because research has shown that their advanced skills transfer to the new language. Being strong in their home language is the best basis for being an effective learner of an additional language.

RESOURCE 8: Do the students mix with friends outside school who speak their home language?

The main reason for continuing to use a language is that it brings benefits. A full social life with other children and young people who speak their language gives EAL students a strong motivation for continuing to use that language.

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RESOURCE 9: Do their parents belong to a minority ethnic community?

Families from minority ethnic communities speak minority languages. You’ll know from the communities your school serves, the languages they speak. These languages often come under threat from the ubiquitous presence, in many countries, of English television, magazines, films and pop culture. It can threaten to overwhelm the use and prestige of the home language.
Sometimes, children and parents feel that their home language and way of life are a hindrance to success in a society where it is not the first language. They worry that they might not be able to go on to further education or to get a good job. This situation leads to parents and children placing a low value on their home language and culture. They can feel that their children don't need home language classes.

This view is a major element in preventing EAL students from becoming bilinguals. It prevents them from enjoying all the benefits of feeling at home in two languages and cultures.

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RESOURCE 10: Moving to an English-medium school

Extracts taken from A parents' and teachers' guide to bilingualism, Baker, C
If the switch has been from a minority to a majority language, there is a possibility that attainment will suffer in school. If children feel their minority language, their parents, their home and their heritage and culture have all been rejected or under-valued, they may feel dislocated, have lower self-esteem and lack academic self-confidence. In cases where the minority language has been rejected and replaced by another language, educational performance may suffer.

Where a language majority child enters a school and learns through a new language, particularly when this language is learned from an early age, attainment is unlikely to suffer. An example of this is when a family moves to a different country. Language majority children, particularly when young, usually adapt to the new language and school situation.

Other cases are less positive. First, when a language minority child moves to a school or a different geographical location where their minority language is not valued, or even ridiculed, the imposition of a majority language may create lower self-esteem, lower academic motivation and lower school performance. The child's linguistic skills are denied by this subtractive bilingual situation. Second, when an older child moves school, the danger is that they will not be able to cope with increasingly complex concepts in the curriculum in a 'new language'.

Part of the equation of success in school is that a child learns a positive academic self-concept. This includes believing that both the owned languages are valued in school, in the home and in society. In this additive language environment, the child may become aware that two languages are better than one, that bilingualism means addition (additive bilingualism) rather than subtraction, multiplication rather than division. Hence, academic attainment in the primary school and secondary school is unlikely to be different from monolinguals. While there may be a lag in primary school progress compared with monolingual children as the EAL child learns a new language, this is temporary and unlikely to occur beyond a two to four year period.

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RESOURCE 11: Do their parents speak a high prestige language?

If parents speak a high prestige language such as French or German or Japanese, they're likely to feel good about their language and cultural background. They're more likely to view learning English as a valuable additional tool. They don't fear that English will overwhelm the use of their own language. These parents usually arrange home language classes. Children from these language backgrounds often reach a high level of bilingualism.

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RESOURCE 12: How many times have the students moved country and school?
Moving country and school disrupts children's lives in several ways. They may have gaps in their basic education and may not have a well-established first language. They may have had very limited experiences of rich activities in their home language. These circumstances may make it difficult for them to learn an additional language with ease.

RESOURCE 13: At what age did they start to learn English?

There are several myths about the best time to start learning another language. Starting at a very young age isn't necessarily a good idea because young children don't have the benefit of a strong first language on which to build. Adolescents may be full of inhibitions and fear that they're making themselves look foolish when they try to speak English.

The best age is usually considered to be between 7 and 11 years. By that time, children's first languages are well established and they're relatively uninhibited. The length of time that children have available to learn English is probably as important as the actual age at which they start. Once again, older elementary aged children have the advantage here.

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RESOURCE 14: Do their parents feel at ease in school?

There are very positive outcomes for EAL students, if their parents (or at least one of them) feel at ease in the English-speaking school environment. The best situation for EAL students is if their teachers and parents work hand-in-hand to foster the growth of both their languages.

It’s also important that a school places an obvious value on the home languages and cultures of its EAL students. This builds up the esteem of parents and children, and encourages parents to continue the sometimes challenging task of maintaining their children's home language.

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RESOURCE 15: Do the students take part in any after-school activities?

After-school activities are one of the most effective ways of giving EAL students a relaxed opportunity to practice their English. While enjoying the activity, they're concentrating on the need to communicate rather than on trying to think up ways of expressing themselves in English.

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RESOURCE 16: Do you suspect that either of your targeted students has learning difficulties?

This topic concerns all staff working with EAL students. Experienced professionals tread very carefully when asked to assess EAL students who appear to be having problems in school and with English. They look first at all the circumstances that might affect the learning of an EAL student. Only when they've carefully weighed up all the factors, do they begin the process of assessing for learning difficulties.

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RESOURCE 19: EAL students changing the way they use their languages

As they learn English, EAL students may change when and how they use their languages. It’s common for brothers and sisters to use English together when they’ve started school. This can make parents anxious because they think that their children are rejecting their language and cultural background. Grandparents often become disapproving of the whole process of learning English at this point. Adolescents may go through a phase of wanting to use only English.

In most cases, these changes right themselves and pupils begin to use their languages in a more balanced way again. But it isn’t always the case. The overwhelming use of English in the media and in pop culture makes adolescents, for example, see English as a more desirable language. Teachers need to emphasize the value of both languages in their classrooms. Parents need to ensure that teenagers have opportunities for enjoyable social activity with young people who speak their home language.

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RESOURCE 20: Transference from the home language

When you work with EAL students, you’ll notice times when features from their home language appear in their English usage. This process is called transference.
Typical examples are when their pronunciation reflects the sounds of their own language and when the word order of their home language is transferred to English. This is noticeable when a student speaks a language like German, where the verbs are placed at the end of the sentence. Transference is often obvious in a student’s spelling.

Sometimes transference is not so easy to understand. Some East Asian languages don’t use verb tenses to show time. EAL students from these backgrounds often have difficulty in understanding the use of tenses in English. Unless you know something about the structure of their language, you won’t understand why they keep on making certain mistakes. You gain this understanding of the languages of your main groups of pupils through experience.

Although transference seems a big issue, it usually reduces as pupils progress in their English. With older students, it’s especially useful to point out the specific differences between their home language and English.

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RESOURCES 30: Concerns of parents

Parents who have moved to a new country and a new home are often anxious. They have to go through a period of adjustment while they learn how to live in a new society and culture. It’s natural that an area of great concern is where their children go to school and what sort of education they receive.
Parents and students approach a new school with all sorts of expectations. These expectations are based on what they’re used to. Parents who come from traditional education systems have certain views on what teaching and learning should be like. Parents from other education systems, Scandinavia for example, will think that we send our children to school too early and that the learning is rather formal.

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RESOURCE 37: Giving EAL students speech input at a useful level

It’s vital that EAL students hear English at a level that helps them to learn. It’s important that the level they hear some of the time is only a little above what they can produce themselves. This lets them pick out familiar words and phrases and use them to make sense of other words in the sentence. This type of language is called comprehensible input. It’s the only type of speech that helps EAL students to learn.

If you’ve ever tried to watch TV or a film in a language that you’re learning, you’ll know what comprehensible input means. Very soon, you lose track of where the conversation is going. The level of input is too high. You can’t make use of the words that you do know. Everything becomes a blur of sound and you "tune out".

Principals, teachers and classroom assistants need to remember this. When they need to get across a message to the whole school, whole class or to an individual student, the language they use must be at a level comprehensible to EAL students.

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RESOURCE 38: Intonation

Intonation is the "tune" of a language. When native-speakers of a language speak without thinking, their voices move up and down the scale. This pattern conveys a great deal of the meaning.
Try this out:

  • ask yourself a question out loud
  • don’t slow down as you speak
  • repeat the question over and over again until you aren’t concentrating on how you’re speaking

You’ll find that your voice goes up at the end of the question. This signifies to English speakers that you’ve asked a question - even if they don’t hear your exact words.

Intonation carries so much meaning that it’s important to model the correct intonation for EAL students. If you slow down and speak in an unnatural way, you’ll lose the normal intonation pattern that should accompany what you are saying. Speak clearly and not too rapidly, but don’t lose the normal intonation pattern.

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RESOURCE 39: Using routine phrases consistently

It’s very helpful to beginner EAL students to use the same phrases for routine activities in the school day.
All school staff make short announcements throughout the day. They often use phrases such as: "it’s time to pack up", "you need to get your coats", "line up quietly please", and so on.

By repeating these phrases in the same form, EAL students begin to associate them with the activity in question. When they hear you speak, EAL students will know what to expect and can carry out the action along with the rest of the class. This gives them some feeling of control in the new environment.

Using routine phrases in this way is very helpful to language learning. Hearing the same phrase repeatedly in a consistent context allows EAL students to consolidate the meaning. Later, when you say the phrase slightly differently in connection with the same activity, they will know what you mean.

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RESOURCE 40: Using idiomatic language with EAL students

Remind yourself why you use idioms when you’re talking to your friends. They give color and emphasis. When you say "it’s raining cats and dogs", or "I’m completely shattered", native English-speakers know immediately what you mean and enjoy the colorful turn of phrase.

For students beginning to learn English, idioms are very confusing. They probably know the words for cat and dog, but wonder why you are using them to describe the weather.

As EAL students get used to the way you speak they will understand the phrases and idioms you use. Soon they will be sharing the humor and jokes of your classroom.

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RESOURCE 41: Creating a risk-taking classroom

EAL students learn best in a risk-taking classroom, an encouraging environment where they can build confidence and feel at ease.
They need to be given opportunities to practice their English for real-life purposes. You should encourage them to concentrate on expressing meaning rather than grammatical accuracy. Give them plenty of opportunities to express themselves.

When they make grammatical mistakes, don’t over-correct. It makes students scared of trying things out. It’s better if you model the correct grammar by repeating the sentence. Later when the students are more confident, they may ask you to point out grammatical errors.

When you ask EAL students to contribute, you need to give them space - "wait time" - to compose their answers. You also need to ensure that other students in the class are considerate and encouraging.

Remember to praise EAL students when they take risks in their English.

In summary, EAL students learn English best in classrooms where:

  • there is an encouraging atmosphere
  • pupils concentrate on communicating meaning
  • the teacher does not over correct
  • they have time to compose their answers
  • other pupils are sympathetic and tolerant
  • trial and error is encouraged
  • risk-taking is celebrated
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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Author: Baker, C
Title: A Parents' and Teachers' Guide to Bilingualism (2000)
Publisher: Multilingual Matters
ISBN: 1853594555

Author: Genesee, F ed.
Title: Educating Second Language Children, The Whole Child, The Whole Curriculum, The Whole Community (1994)
Publisher: Cambridge Language Education
ISBN: 0521457971

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Author: Hall, D; Griffiths, D; Haslam, L; Wilkin, Y (Eds)
Title: Assessing the Needs of Bilingual Pupils – Living in Two Languages (2001)
Publisher: David Fulton
ISBN: 1853467995

Author: Richards, C and Lockhart, C
Title: Reflective Teaching in Second Language Classrooms (1994)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 052145803X

Author: Sears, C
Title: Second Language Students in Mainstream Classrooms (1998)
Publisher: Multilingual Matters
ISBN: 1853594083

 

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REFERENCES

Name: Center for Applied Linguistics
Description:This American site covers a wide range of EAL/ESL topics.
URL: http://www.cal.org

Name: The Educator's Reference Desk
Description:This American site is a clearing house on all aspects of
education, where you can find resources relating to your chosen topic.
URL: http://www.eduref.org/

Name: National Association for Language Development across the Curriculum (NALDIC)
Description:This site has an excellent list of practical books and handbooks
to help classroom teachers working with EAL pupils.
URL: http://www.naldic.org.uk


1 comment


  • Joan Head

    I found this ( resources 37- 41) very useful. I like the idea of correcting grammar by repeating the sentence, don’t over- correct and give students time to compose answers,


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