Towards building a whole-school approach to EAL

I enjoyed Adri’s post on EAL vs ESL the other day. It’s great to read so many positives regarding EAL culture at her school: teamwork, addressing individual needs, building a whole-school EAL approach, etc.

Based on Adri’s comments, I feel like she’s a few steps ahead of my school in her context. As an EAL teacher, I’m still trying to work out how best I can promote EAL support to other teachers at my school, and explain how our approach can benefit the students. Adri seems to have made progress with that already so I’ll be reaching out to her for ideas, that’s for sure!

I do have one idea for building a whole-school approach to EAL. It’s basically to put the EAL dept out there – make it clear what we are doing, why we are doing it, and prompt other teachers to collaborate more with us. I’m putting together a series of videos to explain what we do both during in-class support and in our EAL lessons.

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EAL presentation tasks

I’ve been teaching an intensive English course this term. It works out (online) at about 8 hours per week, would have been a lot more had we not been back in lockdown. Seven students, Japanese, between 12 and 14 years old. All were supposed to be ‘low level’ (like, A2 or below I guess), although I’m sure you’re aware of the nature of these things. Once they got a bit of speaking and listening confidence, well, there’s far more language there than they’d realised.

To be honest, it’s been an absolute pleasure so far. There was a public holiday last week, and by lunchtime I was missing them! I just haven’t had students like this for a while. Awesome.

Every week, I set them a presentation task. I thought it would be quite challenging for them at first, but they seem to love it.

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Timesaver: Conversation starters

Here’s a quick fix warmer while you’re waiting for all students to arrive in your online class.

I googled ‘conversation starters’ the other day and found this list of questions 225 starter questions on gifts.com. I pasted these questions into the random spinner on Wordwall (yes, Wordwall again) and… that’s it. Nothing special, but just a way to prompt a bit of a chat if needed. Here are 6 different question spinners, as I said all questions originally from the gifts.com site (I took out some less useful ones). These are all teen-friendly.

Link here
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Timesaver: Quickfire questions

Online learning again… Five weeks in. Need to keep things lively.

Starting the lesson with these quickfire questions for my A2 level students. Nothing special, but livens things up while we are waiting for everyone to arrive.

Here are the links, don’t know why I called them random challenges, was just lacking inspiration.

link here

Second one…

Link here.

and third one…

Link here.

These are embedding as games as I link them but probs just end up links 😦 soz.

Materials Writing: Samples

Question from a reader: Can you give me some advice on how to write a sample?

Ummm…

The free ‘No Nonsense Guide to Writing’ from ELT Writers Connected includes a good overview on this topic (see page 27, written by Damian Williams). That covers the basics tbh – it’s well worth a read.

 I’m not sure what more I can add really, apart from just what works / has worked for me.

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Jason Anderson and the TATE

There’s a Mercury Music Prize-winning band name if ever I heard one. This post is actually a long one about Anderson, CAP/TATE, British Council and Project-based learning – that didn’t have quite the same ring to it.

I attended Jason Anderson’s webinar last night on contemporary lesson planning and frameworks in TESOL (hosted by DublinTEFL). Really well-presented, very informative.

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Using Loom

Here’s a quick overview of Loom and why I like it.

What’s Loom?

Loom is a video recording / screencasting tool. It is available as a Google extension. I first came across this tool after reading this post last year. It includes a good video tutorial for how to make vids.

How can I get it?

Basically, Google ‘Loom for Chrome’, add the extension, then pin it to your browser. Whenever you want to record a vid of you/your screen/you and your screen you just click the Loom button and you get a drop down recorder appear:

When you start recording you choose if you want to record the entire screen, a window or a tab. When you finish recording the video automatically uploads to your Loom library.

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Text analysis, level checks, profiling, etc

A new subscriber, Gemma Archer, just asked about text profilers. I’ve shared this response as a comment but thought I’d paste here as might crowdsource some more ideas??? Help please 🙂

(Response)

I use, or have used, text inspector (free version 250 words). My go-to for a while.

https://textinspector.com

This is the link for longer texts (thanks Silvina/Teresa)

http://www.englishprofile.org/wordlists/text-inspector

The text analyzer from Road to Grammar:

http://www.roadtogrammar.com/textanalysis/

Lextutor.ca, which I used during my MSc and was a bit more (too!) technical:

https://www.lextutor.ca/vp/

It’s not something I’ve used recently and now it looks pretty aaaaargh but useful for checking word frequency I think.

EDIA Papyrus – I used this more when it was in beta but was good.

https://papyrus.edia.nl

There’s one from Duolingo now but won’t work on my phone for some reason. Haven’t used it yet but an option maybe (?)

https://cefr.duolingo.com

Vocab kitchen, used a few times, basic but ok

https://www.vocabkitchen.com/profile

There are also some sites that make it easy to grade their texts, which I like! NewsELA being one, but it’s not a profiler as such so bit of a tangent there.

Might be worth asking Julie Moore the same question, I think this might be her area of expertise…

*Update* Julie has responded with this AWESOME post!

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WAIT! I’ve remembered another one!!! The NILE Members area (free to join) has a text analysis tool!

Another here, the Oxford text checker, shared by Gordon Dobie via Facebook.

Dan Shepherd (via LinkedIn) just shared this one for Pearson Global Scale of English

Jane Wescombe (via LinkedIn) shared this tool from Lexicool.

Gemma said she’s had mixed success with text analysis tools. Me too. Main difficulty for me has been how some tools seem to analyze words individually, so things like phrasal verbs get missed. Anyhow, they can be a useful starting point or general kinda marker for writers. I think these are the only ones I know but if another one comes to me I’ll add it in the comments/do an update 🙂 please share others and your experience of using them if you’ve time. Cheers.

Tips for writing secondary materials, ELTA Rhine

Teresa Bestwick tagged me in a tweet about materials writing earlier. ELTA Rhine were looking for someone to drop into a training session for pre-service teachers and chat about writing Secondary resources.

Teresa was going to help, I really wanted to help, couldn’t make it timewise. Had kids to look after. But tried to find time to make a vid.

I got home and sat down at about 4.30pm to share these random tips. Made some slides (QUICKLY!), recorded, sent them off at 5.50pm. There’s nothing polished, nothing structured, it’s loose, scatty, trying to be organised but like… er… This is me just, I don’t know just being real ‘me’ maybe?

You’re kinda on the journey with me here on a ‘public speaking’ front so please be patient. There are things I’d have phrased differently, there are some things I don’t explain well (although this is meant as a kinda ‘pause and chat about it’ in my eyes tbh) and I’ve literally chucked examples together. But… it’s me. I’ll get better, but I can’t do that without giving things a go.

Besides, doing this felt like I was on the Krypton Factor or something.

I think there are a few things in here to help pre-service teachers think about planning/writing lessons for teens. Some things maybe not, but certainly one or two of the tips! Thanks for the tag Teresa 🙂

P.s. this was really cobbled together as you’ll see, hence no references. The resources were Sprint 2 (ELi), Beyond A2+ (Macmillan), Learn English Teens (British Council), stuff from this blog for really quick examples.

Cheers