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Very unmotivated EAL student

(14 Posts)
SawdustInMyHair Sun 30-Oct-16 10:19:22

I have a new child in my class - Y4 - who arrived speaking very little English two weeks into last term. She now knows a lot more English, as both parents are fluent, and is able to communicate and understand instructions.

But she won't do anything. She won't even copy from the board (eg when we're doing handwriting practice, or copying the LO). I go over and make sure she starts, but she'll do about two letters then stop. I know she understands what I want her to do, as we have translated resources, a TA who speaks the language come in to explain regularly, and now I know she knows enough English to understand basic instructions. I even learned how to say 'copy this' and 'work this out' in her language. I know she can see the board, as I've asked her to read from it from her seat. It's the same in maths as in English, although again I know she understands what the symbols mean in maths and everything is differentiated for her so she can understand what to do. I also have a TA for maths lessons, so she's on the table which is all different levels, but needs a more support.

I've given her work which I know she can do, and the instructions are translated and differentiated, but half the time I turn around she's lying across the desk, the other half she's annoying the children around her. We're starting to wonder about SEN, but it's really hard to tell what's going on. Her physical development is not as much as the other children in the class either (she can't catch a ball or run very well), and she seems very immature and is quite badly behaved. Although I wonder if this is because her country starts school at 7? I was prepared to be all sweetness and niceness before she arrived, but have had to send her to time out eventually as she knows full well she's not supposed to be poking other children while I'm talking! She was previously at normal school in a European country, so it's not a question of not knowing what's expected (I would completely understand if she was a refugee or something). From the outside it just looks like she can't be bothered, but I don't want to assume that's the case as it seems an awful judgement!

Does anyone have any advice? I'm trying rewards, but they don't seem much of a motivation unless I stand over her with them. I only have a TA for 1/3 of the day, so she can't have constant support.

sorry this is so long! She's just the main one I'm thinking about for tomorrow.

noblegiraffe Sun 30-Oct-16 10:33:42

Have you spoken to the parents?

TheTroubleWithAngels Sun 30-Oct-16 15:30:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SawdustInMyHair Sun 30-Oct-16 23:00:28

She is well cared for as far as I know. Although (like the being able to catch things) she is VERY slow getting herself dressed and undressed. I've never felt so tempted to step in and help! But as I say, she's a bit immature all round.

I had subtle bit of a chat with dad before half term - her homework was more writing practice in English, "as she doesn't write very much for me" and I mentioned that she needed to practice changing. We waited a full 8 minutes to leave the swimming pool with all the other kids lined up and ready, and were late back to school because of it. If that carries on I'll have to get her out of the pool early! I'm also moving her to the end of one of my tables so she only has one person next to her.

So I'm hoping for an improvement, but if not you're right, I'll have to have a more serious talk with dad. Perhaps bring out the books to show him!

TheTroubleWithAngels Mon 31-Oct-16 21:23:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

childmaintenanceserviceinquiry Mon 31-Oct-16 21:50:17

OP: "and she seems very immature and is quite badly behaved. Although I wonder if this is because her country starts school at 7?" "We're starting to wonder about SEN.." and many other comments in a similar vein in your posts.

I am absolutely disgusted at your judgment here. Most countries where children start at age 6 or 7 are doing significantly better in international education tables than England & wales. So those systems clearly work well. In this country many professionals and parents want children to start in formal school later than the current de-facto school starting age of 4 for many good reasons.

Yet here you are, a professional who should know better, labelling this child. Your dislike of her comes through strongly. I do wonder whether she is aware. She has moved countries from what you write, at an age when she will be aware of what is happening. Transition is a very difficult area and not everyone copes well with it. You are comparing her to an inappropriate peer group - no wonder she does not compare well.

Jayfee Mon 31-Oct-16 22:06:06

I totlly disagree with last poster. op is thinking hard and working to help this little girl.

SmilingGivesYouWrinkles Mon 31-Oct-16 23:01:13

I've had a few EAL students like this, although all boys so far. Is she an only child? I've found that with some of the European children, who wouldn't start school until 7 in their home country, very little is expected of them in terms of independence. Currently, a Year 2 who is carried into the classroom every morning, and carried home at the end of the day. Not a "slight" child either!

I second the advice to get the parents in. Make it clear that if she isn't at least making an effort, you'll have no choice but to keep her in at break or lunchtime. It sounds like she's got plenty of support in the classroom - are there any other children with the same first language?

TheTroubleWithAngels Tue 01-Nov-16 17:08:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jayfee Tue 01-Nov-16 17:30:38

child maintenance???

BratFarrarsPony Tue 01-Nov-16 17:33:41

I was just wondering if she comes from a country where SEN is not such a 'thing' and that she has some SEN that has not been picked up.
Before anyone starts, those countries do exist. In Europe. for example Greece and Spain for a start, among others.

SawdustInMyHair Wed 09-Nov-16 21:56:54

Sorry I'm so late back to this, I'm not expecting more replies but I wanted to say thanks for the advice!

I don't think I've been unfair in judging her behaviour - she has come from a European, regular school, and knows perfectly well that she is not supposed to be making noises or throwing things when I am talking, or lying down in Assembly. Most of my class/school are EAL and I have a good handful of early learners so the idea of someone from another school system is not a shock to me.

Her spoken English is way better now as she's been practising over the holiday. She has now been taken out by the EAL coordinator and the English coordiantor for assessments, and we even found an adult who speaks her language to do assessments! I'm not pursuing an SEN angle until we have more language, as it could all just be attempts to communicate and might die down with more confidence. Although it's difficult for her as the other children don't like what she does, which is now including name-calling and licking their stuff.

She is definitely behind in maths due to subject knowledge - her school back home had not done times tables yet, for example. Her writing was behind what would be expected even when done in her native language, but spoken/understanding language is good.

Behaviour hasn't improved, sadly, despite many stickers, and, now she can understand, being brought onto the regular school behaviour system. I would be so much happier if she would just stop picking her nose and threatening other children with it! She still doesn't want to write anything, and instead throws things or makes noises. But if I say '3 sentences or no playtime' then it gets magically done in 10 minutes! We'll get there, I guess.

Thanks for all your advice!

Jayfee Wed 09-Nov-16 22:29:27

did you mean lickng their stuff or nicking their stuff

SawdustInMyHair Thu 10-Nov-16 21:36:50

Oh I mean licking. Not sure which is worse! The other kids refuse to use pencils etc because "she's licked them!!!!" and she also threatens them with licked pencils etc. I've been making her go wash them in the sink, but it's so disruptive!

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