EAL pupils

(13 Posts)
WelshMoth Thu 10-Nov-16 21:52:26

Do you know of any secondary schools that provide a specialised English teacher (almost like a TEFL Teacher if you like) for EAL pupils?

I'm interested in how other schools are supporting their asylum seeker / refugee pupils, especially if they have little to no English.

I know it's utterly dependant on funding (and given the harsh cuts to the education budget - it seems unlikely to happen) but would you think it's more effective to run immersion English classes for say, 3 months or so ^before p^upils are thrown into mainstream curriculum?

I'm interested in your opinions.

BackforGood Fri 11-Nov-16 17:00:56

I saw an interesting prog last year I think it was about them doing just this for pupils starting at schools in Gwynedd (I think! - somewhere in North Wales anyway) who weren't Welsh speakers. It looked like a really positive venture.

The issue is that the Government are trying to break up Local Authorities, so all services like this, that used to be provided across the authorities have been broken up. There won't be that many schools that could afford the service just out of their own budget.

Bluebonnie Fri 11-Nov-16 17:54:07

Typically it might be a teaching assistant with some (cascaded) training helping these children. In secondary schools these lessons could take place when others are learning modern foreign languages.

Many schools will have no special provision, teachers having to differentiate lessons appropriately, and the children just pick it up at they go along.

As BackforGood said, the help that schools used to get has diminished to vanishing point in many places.

WelshMoth Fri 11-Nov-16 21:41:15

Backforgood that's exactly what I was talking about but didn't want to bring it up because of its 'minority' status.

Today, in one of my Year 9 classes, I taught 10 different nationalities. 9 pupils were 'little to no English' stage learners. The class is a mixed bag and can behave appallingly. No amount of differentiation helps my EAL learners. It's a shit situation for everyone involved.

WelshMoth Fri 11-Nov-16 21:43:02

Bluebonnie in our school, these EAL learners go to every lesson and just sit there. it's shocking - pressure for the teacher and a let-down for our refugees.

WelshMoth Sat 12-Nov-16 18:42:11

Bumping for traffic. Still keen to learn how other schools are handling this.

Lizzylou Sat 12-Nov-16 18:48:32

We have a Head of EAL (ex teacher) and a handful of EAL TAs.
Not enough and I recognise the situation with your yr 9 class all too well.

SnugglySnerd Sat 12-Nov-16 18:48:37

We had some training recently. Advice is that "total immersion" is the best way to learn the language although at our school they are taken our of mfl to do extra English with a TA. We were given lots of advice about differentiation, using translation sites etc but some of the kids cannot read or write in their own language so that isn't much help to them. Having said that they do seem to pick up the conversational language quite quickly.
I teach children with a lot of different languages and I just don't have the time to make them each their own resources for every lesson. I try to do vocab lists with pictures for new topics and spend time helping individuals in each lesson as a minimum.

fourcorneredcircle Sat 12-Nov-16 21:17:51

It's such a shame when EAL students are removed from MFL... because often, the pared down language and the fact that everyone is starting with basics for each new topic means they can perform quite well and on a level playing field...

I used to be EAL co-ordinator for a large comprehensove. The EAL students attended MFL but not History. Which was way above their comprehension. I used to cover basic British history in their EAL lessons though (royal family when we did family, dates when we did numbers, stories from history for cultural points etc.)

I think it helped me to sell this to other staff though (mainly the history staff, the MFL staff knew the EAL kids were making progress in their lessons) that I have a history degree (although I'm an MFL teacher).

Total immersion is best practise, as is putting them in the top sets to ensure that they are exposed to the best examples of spoken language. Sadly, EAL students are dumped in bottom sets with students that have enough problems of their own all too often. I'm not saying that it's easy persuading staff that teach top sets that that's the way it should be though. Especially if that teacher is given top sets because they aren't good at differentiation etc.

MumTryingHerBest Sun 13-Nov-16 09:58:28

fourcorneredcircle as is putting them in the top sets to ensure that they are exposed to the best examples of spoken language

Do you mean top sets for English and MFL or top sets for everything?

fourcorneredcircle Sun 13-Nov-16 12:10:14

Top sets for everything... shouldn't get much spoken English in MFL for a start!

I am aware that this presents challenges, especially for schools with a very high number of new arrivals (not much point having 26 of 32 children not speaking, is there ;) ) and most agree that after a few months once conversational basic English is in place it's ok to move the EAL students to different sets, but again, the danger is that for some schools that's the point where they end up in bottom sets. Which undoes hard won gains.

Far too many schools though, who have high numbers of of English speakers and few EAL students are the worst culprits for not following best practise. Especially those schools that have a very "standard cohort" (be that leafy green suburbia or inner city working class) but do well with them - often EAL is just too far outside of the experience of the staff.

Many schools with high numbers of EAL (especially new arrivals) do very well for their students. London has amazing results for EAL students, although, a larger critical mass (and therefore more access to funding or specialist teachers) and the possibility of community support and encouragement as well as the possibility of finding interpreters for parents/carers etc. Means that a child in London has better chances than one single Polish, Syrian or Sudanese family arriving in a small provincial town.

The frustrating thing is that often, the schools/statistics in London are held up as the gold standard that all schools should be able to achieve... without taking in to account the benefits the schools have in London that I outlined above.

PonkAlert Sun 13-Nov-16 12:31:25

I have worked in a school with a very high number of EAL students. Most pick up the language very quickly if they are exposed to it, as a previous poster said, and end up in a variety of sets.

However, there was a cohort of maybe six children who were clearly both EAL and SEN and they really gained nothing at all from being in school. One boy joined my class in the last few weeks of year 7. I didn't teach him again but in year 11 he was in my tutor group. I was astonished that he still had barely any English. He clearly had learning difficulties but he wasn't on the SEND register. He had no behavioural problems but just could not pick up the language.

I also think EAL pupils do much better in schools where other students don't speak their home language. The school I taught in was in a northern town with a large monocultural population. There was very little incentive for pupils arriving in Key Stage 4 when they could communicate perfectly well with other students in their home language, their target GCSE grades were F/Gs and they already had jobs in family businesses lined up for when they finished school.

Conversely, the handful of students arriving with different languages to the main home language in the school seemed to do much better. I remember one boy arriving at the end of year 9 with no English and getting 10 A/A* grades in year 11. He's now a doctor.

So, after all that waffle, to answer your question: immersion is best practice for the majority of EAL students but I think there's a problem with students who are both EAL and SEN who go undiagnosed/unsupported and are left to it. There are also motivational problems in some communities where students aren't particularly interested in learning the language. As a pp said, this isn't likely in London as its so much more diverse, it seems to be an issue in some small towns with large populations who speak one other language.

fourcorneredcircle Sun 13-Nov-16 12:49:47

Yeah, completely agree with SEN and EAL.

I taught many EAL students that clearly had some additional SEN needs.

Those that came in with some evidence of SEN from their home country we could sometimes do something for. Obvious physical difficulties were often easiest to deal with as could involve medical specialists and some of those who came (mainly from Europe) with a diagnosis of some sort of learning need such as dyslexia we could get help for to. These were harder to get the right SEN support for as not only did you have to find someone who could dicipher/translate reports (if they had any...) but in order to get same recognised diagnosis here you would have to find an EP who spoke their home language and had access to diagnostic tests in that language (nigh on impossible. I managed it once, in five years, for a Spanish child. But Spanish is pretty "mainstream").

Then there were the majority of suspected SEN & EAL... who had neither medical needs, nor "evidence" from their home country. They often also had disrupted schooling (most international migrants move extensively in their home countries first looking for/following work), culture shock, parents who worked very long hours and just couldn't have met the school even if we'd arranged interpreters, children living with extended family members (or family friends) who weren't always as proactive as they could have been... They were really, really hard to help. For the same reasons about EP/specialist teachers needing to speak their language.

Sometimes, the only thing that got me through was the (perhaps blinkered and misguided...) belief that no parent would put their child through this unless the option of staying at home was worse. I repeated it to myself a lot. Everyday.

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