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!


Using Stories Without End

Here’s a quick follow-up to my review of Stories Without End (Taylor Sapp, Alphabet Publishing).

As you may have read, I thought this was great resource which could be easily adapted to my own context. Here is an example of how I adapted one of the stories.

The resources as they are include a few lead-in questions related to the story content, a bit of vocab pre-teaching, the story, and some creative follow-up tasks.

I bulked these out a bit and created the following sequence around the text called ‘Spooky House’ (in which some kids are deciding whether or not to enter a scary looking house). This was for A2/B1-ish level. I taught it at Primary (without the grammar bit) and also Secondary (full content). Worked well for both.


Seesaw for EAL and young learners

Someone contacted me last week in a panic. ‘Aaargh, we’re going to start using Seesaw – any tips? Is it easy? Can you do a lot on it?’ etc.

I find Seesaw really easy to use as a classroom learning app for EAL. The functionality for slides and templates is like a Jamboard +1 (you pay for the privilege). You can do quite a lot with it – here are some random (very random) screenshots from my Year 4/5 lessons just to give you a general idea. These aren’t all-singing-all-dancing, I just want to reassure the person who contacted me that things will be more familiar than you imagine.

In no particular order…

It’s really easy to model activities/tasks when not doing a live lesson. In this example, I wanted learners to predict the captions for a load of images. I can record myself doing the task and add a voiceover with instructions too (students just click play button to view).


18 more ways to introduce your lesson topic

This term I’ve tried out a few different ways to introduce a lesson. These ones have worked well. They might be worth reading if you’ve exhausted my previous list!

  1. Song lyric gap fill

Example: 3rd conditional, regrets

Do a short gap fill on part of a song related to your topic. Mine was on some lines from Frank Sinatra’s My Way:

Regrets, I’ve had a few… (0.55 – 1.06)


Jamboard (so far)

Jamboard mentioned a lot recently. I decided to give it a go with my Secondary classes. Started using it last week so this is all new to me. Early thoughts.

Jamboard versus (e.g.) whiteboard.fi

This was the first step for me – working out which one I might find more useful. There were far more tools on whiteboard.fi (wait), but Jamboard won straight away because it integrates well with Google Classroom (wait), so that was that really.


Fluency and fun: Hidden words

Here’s a quick speaking activity for Primary EAL. A good one for Friday afternoon fun.

Check out this ‘Hidden Words‘ post on Bored Panda. Is just a load of illustrations with six hidden words in each.

Get the students to spot the words, explain where they are, explain their meaning, look up their meaning if unsure, etc. Lots more language than I thought came out of this one, and the students took control of the activity! A nice one for fluency practice.

Here it is as a Powerpoint. All images (including feature) copyright Bored Panda, I just had to add it to a ppt because of adverts or suggested reads on their site being potentially iffy for YLs. Plus all the comments give the answers away!

Reading tasks for homework

Hiya, hope online learning is going well.

Here are some random reading tasks I set for homework. Each student chooses one of these to do a week. These are in a big folder on my desk, but they’ll be adapted for online learning now probs. Still, you might find them useful. Ten for fiction, six for non-fiction.

Most of these are well-known, so not all my ideas or anything. Examples:


Text-driven approach and K-pop

Came across this post on my Google Drive. I think I wrote it with someone like NALDIC in mind, but not sure they responded/I sent it. It’s not the best, but if you’re interested in Brian Tomlinson’s work it might be of interest.

A text-driven approach: making reading more meaningful

There is far more to reading than just comprehension. When I first started teaching over a decade ago I felt that many global English language coursebooks tended to prioritise comprehension in reading sections. Resources these days seem to include more meaning-building tasks, such as those I outlined in this blog post, and those mentioned by Rachael Roberts. I find tasks that develop meaning-building skills are more engaging for my learners, as they are often more personalised, more challenging and give learners more chance to process a text.


Twinkl in Action: Facts as a foundation

Year 9 Geography. The assessment task involves looking at the impact of tourism in Kenya. Some of my EAL learners are quite new to English, and their prior knowledge of Kenya is limited. They’re gonna need some support. I get two EAL lessons a week with these kids, and mainly use the time to help them access their learning in other subjects.

Before we get into the tourism side of things, we need to lay some foundations. We also need a fun activity – learning can be fun, right?

… Twinkl to the rescue!