EAL: Choosing and using sources (History)

My last post was a quick insight into my day-to-day planning for EAL in Primary. Here’s a day-to-day snippet from Secondary.

I mainly work in Year 9 learners at my school. I provide in-class support for EAL learners in most core subjects (Science, Geog, History, Maths, etc). Then I teach the learners for a couple of hours a week in small groups – EAL becomes their Modern Foreign Language basically.

What I teach them is up to me – so I try and teach them what they need! Ha, a toughie!

One minute I’ll be in a Maths lesson trying to work out if they are struggling with the actual math, or just struggling to access the language in a word problem. Then I’ll be in a Geography class trying to feed in a bit of functional language to help learners debate issues related to blood diamonds. Next I’ll be going over keywords in Science related to genetics (ahem, I only learnt what an allele was a couple of months ago). Then, BAM! Into History, where I need to help my learners understand their essay feedback. Inevitably, my own classes end up being study review/support sessions in a way, yet there’s still plenty of other basic convo needs to address too – and no time! Argh!

Here’s an example of how I deal with needs that emerge in ‘regular’ classes through my targeted EAL classes.

Last term my learners were learning about the Holocaust. Heavy topic of course, a bit tricky for A2/B1-ish level learners to write essays on. Their last essay feedback highlighted the need to cite evidence that was drip-fed throughout the unit. Identifying good sources was a key skill, then introducing the sources. So here was my approach…

First up, pick out good sources for them. Debatable, but let’s not run before we can walk. Here were some useful chunks taken from the class reading/slides/etc.

I probably did an initial read of these, can’t remember exact lesson set up but do remember clarifying quite a bit of vocab.

Moved on to personal response. Always a good way to check understanding for me (if with small groups), coz I can just go round, look at each students’ responses and get them to ‘tell me more about that’ verbally – seeing how much they’ve actually processed the content.

Then comes the key bit I guess. So, you want to write XYZ, which source would be best and why?

Then the dry but important bit – How to introduce the evidence in a very basic way…

Start putting it together into a P.E.E. paragraph. Good for just keeping things simple. Scaffolding or sentence stems provided… Oh, and again no running before walking, give them the point.

You know exactly what’s going to happen with the evidence. They’ll choose to write ‘In [year], Adolf Hitler stated…’, not reducing the name or varying language (‘Hitler’, ‘The Nazi leader’, etc). So they’ll be a little snippet of teaching needed there. If any learners are totally getting it by now then a slight tangent to highlight the ‘might show’ as a hedge could be done but chances are that’s pushing it.

Gradually reducing support and towards ‘write your own’

In practice, I provided more support with this. E.g. suggesting they start with the evidence for their own paragraph and build the point/ex from that, or providing sentence stems, etc. Stuff that might sound standard, but better (I think) to let the need for support emerge. I should point out though, we’d already done lots of PEE practice (ordering examples, building points/explanation from evidence, etc).

And then HOPEFULLY, with more prompting and review in subsequent EAL classes, you’ll get a couple of the learners attempting to add evidence in their own essays. Fingers crossed.

So, I’m showing you my raw, unpolished resources here. It takes me a while to think this stuff through sometimes, and I have to create it myself as it needs to be 100% relevant to the context. So yeah, I’m not fussed about making the resource look good if I’m honest. But I think there’s flow in the method here, albeit more support likely needed during the lesson.

That’s my EAL life at the moment basically – see what the curriculum throws at us and do my best to help the learners succeed.  It must be said, some of my learners are pretty amazing. Fairly new to English yet having to deal with some pretty complex language and content. Fair play, they’re doing great.

Resource here if needed.

Image by Eveline de Bruin from Pixabay 

Categories: Lesson Ideas, other

Tags: , , , , , , ,

2 replies


  1. Towards building a whole-school approach to EAL | ELT Planning
  2. Review: Academic Writing – Mastering Citation and Referencing – ELT Planning

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