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.

Examples

I posted about supporting History classes recently. I’ve made that post into a quick explainer for teachers, with a call to action to share planning early so we can provide necessary support!

Ha, my favourite bit was when I say something like ‘learners struggle to find good evidence, so I just give it to them’! What I meant was I provide it just as a means to practice a certain skill, not just do things for them! Haha.

Anyway, hopefully this vid and supporting post might prompt a bit of dialogue between EAL and the Humanities dept.

I’m making other quick explainers about EAL-related tools that the learners might be using in class. Here’s one on vocab recording…

Regarding the teamwork side of things, I’ve also created a few EAL training vids for other support staff. Not all of those staff have a background in ELT, so it’s worth trying to share ideas for good practice. This example is a brief one about exploiting a text more (again, it relates to an existing blog post). Includes a bit of rambling, as always…

So, this is like the beginnings of a whole-school EAL culture (once they are shared – we aren’t implementing it yet). The ‘what we can do’ will hopefully help us build a bit of rapport with teachers. The ‘how we do it’ might be better for the support staff. What we really need more of down the line is ‘how YOU can do it’, to share tips with subject teachers to help them integrate support strategies for EAL learners in mainstream classes. I’ve prepared a few vids on that, but we need to lay some foundations first. Building trust is important.

Feature image Jerry Wang (unsplash), via Adri’s post

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