eal

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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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!

(End)

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.

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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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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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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