EAL: History / Geography reviews

Here’s another insight into day-to-day EAL planning. Usual disclaimer on the look of the resources – time restraints, okay?!

History and Geography were tough for our EAL learners in Term 1. They are so English-heavy and there’s tonnes to cover. Most of my separate EAL classes during the term focused on some part of the content in these two topics. I mean, there was the odd review of maths terms and some focus on essay writing skills, but mainly I was helping learners access the Hist/Geog content.

At the end of each (half-)term, with writing assessments looming, I help the learners review what’s been covered. These activities are done as a rip-and-run activity so sorta gamified.

Here are some of the examples of my review activities for WW2 key events (the essay involved discussing two of the events in detail…)

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Get published! Working with Peachey Publications

It’s about time I did more than just praise Nik Peachey on LinkedIn and in Twitter posts!

Another six months has passed, the royalties from ‘30 Role Plays for TEFL’ are in. They’ve covered a dentist bill, a crate of beer, and one month’s life insurance premium. Blimey, that last bit makes me feel old.

‘30 Role Plays…’ was great fun to write. See here for details of how it came about. It reminds me of some fun times at the British Council, when the crew at our tiny centre in Bangkok were alive with ideas!

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MA dissertation promo cringe

Maria Heron from NILE asked me to record a video about my NILE dissertation. They are promoting the course and are keen to get reflections from alumni. She sent me a bunch of questions and asked for a 5 minute video. It was meant to be unscripted and I guess they’ll be snipping it for the, ahem, ‘best bits’. At least I hope they are, as I scratch my nose and head a lot, say ‘Er’ 8000 times and barely look at the camera. It’s also far too long so not sure it’ll get used.

Why am I sharing this with you? After all, it’s 7 minutes of your life that you won’t get back. Well…

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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!

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EAL: Descriptive writing, fronted adverbials

Here’s a very brief insight into some day-to-day EAL planning.

I work with EAL learners in Year 4. Planning for my EAL lessons is informed by one of the following:

  • National Curriculum SPaG
  • the Unit of Inquiry for that (half)-term
  • WIDA targets

In their literacy classes, students were learning to use fronted adverbials (was a new one for me tbh). They were also reviewing expanded noun phrases as part of the same activity – descriptive writing based on images.

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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.

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Why I work for free (sometimes)

I take on materials development work for free sometimes. I appreciate that not everyone has time to do that, can afford to, or might want to. I choose to do it for different reasons.

  • It might be for a good cause – I don’t get many requests like that, but it has happened in the past.
  • It might lead to paid writing work.
  • It might help my professional development.
  • It’s good for networking.
  • I don’t have any contracts on and just fancy keeping my hand in with something.

Here are some (TRUE!) examples of how offering my materials development services for free has been worthwhile:

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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).

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Review: Work It Out with Business Idioms

Scroll to *get on with it, Pete* for review.

Do you remember that BBC article about how rubbish us native speakers can be at communication? I think that put me off teaching idioms for a bit. I came to think of them as ‘flowery’ (as the article suggests) and likely to cause misunderstanding. I feel like some of Chan’s maxims of good business communication reinforce that viewpoint and don’t seem very idiom-friendly…

… yet in a later chapter of the book (English for Business Communication, 2020) Chan then lists the 50 most popular idioms used in business contexts, suggesting that learning these may result in ‘effective communication with native speakers of English’.

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