international school

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: 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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Course review: PGCEi

This review is for the PGCEi from the University of Nottingham. It’s a bit general – see links for more details.

Overview of modules

There are 3 modules on this course.

  • Module 1 focuses on educational aims and values in international contexts. More details in this post.
  • Module 2 focused on learning and teaching in international contexts. More details in this post.
  • Module 3 focused on inquiring into educational practice. It was research-based, we had to do a qualitative study related to our teaching context. I replicated a study by Fitch et al (2020). I summarized that study (not mine) recently for Nexus Education.
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How to get a PGCEi Distinction

I’ve just finished a PGCEi through University of Nottingham. I got a mark of 78 for each of the three modules, which basically means ‘your writing is okay, but your stuff’s not really a contribution to the field or anything; solid but unspectacular’. Spot on, I’d say.

Here are the macro indicators for assessment.

The differences between a Merit and a Distinction might seem subtle/subjective – things like ‘broad knowledge’ versus ‘broad and detailed knowledge’, or ‘originality’ versus ‘considerable originality’. However, based on the conversations I’ve had with PGCEi candidates from my own/previous cohorts, I can say there are three clear areas that set your 60s apart from your 70s. They are:

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Varjak Paw Kahoot! (EAL)

Here are a couple of game-based resources you could use for EAL learners reading Varjak Paw. Our Year 4 students have really enjoyed the book (I did too, although I didn’t like the ending!).

Anyhow, here’s a Kahoot! to play at the end of the book:

Varjak Paw Kahoot!

Before reading, I found it useful to prime learners for some cat-specific vocab that might pop up!

Cat related words (one of my more random Wordwalls)

I anagrammed that one too, see here.

Also, here’s a hangman of terms from earlier in the book, things like Contessa, humiliation, fireplace, insect, guard, etc. I found that guessing these prompted some discussion, so you could use the activity to teach phrases for probably (It could be… Maybe it’s… It’s definitely….!).

PGCEi Module 2: Understanding Learning and Teaching in International Contexts

Module 2 of the PGCEi (though Nottingham) is in two parts.

Part A starts with framing unit. It introduces various theories of learning such as behaviourism, cognitive constructivism, and social constructivism. Unit 2 then delves deeper into learning theories/approaches with a social focus, exploring dialogic talk, oracy, scaffolding and contingent teaching, and the spiral curriculum. ZPD is only mentioned about 8 billion times during Unit 2.

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Review: How Global Capital is Remaking International Education

The full title is … How Global Capital is Remaking International Education: The Emergence of Transnational Education Corporations.

In this Springer Brief publication from 2019, Hyejin Kim considers the impact of corporate interests in the international education sector. Kim focuses on how private equity groups such as Transnational Education Corporations (TECs) have shaped the international education scene. Examples include how they capitalize on educational reforms, influence government policy, economize education, expand as an add on to other business interests (e.g. property development), and so on. Kim’s critique focuses on three or four major TECs, with the author having spent time working within the sector in admissions, marketing and as a managing director. (more…)

Should I do a PGCEi?

I’m currently doing a PGCEi through the University of Nottingham. The course is specifically designed for international educators with a focus on improving professional practice. It is an 11-month course which is mostly distance learning, although there is a short face-to-face component.

The course seems popular with teachers who are working at ‘lower-tier’ international schools and who do not hold a teaching certificate from their country of origin. It also seems popular with EFL teachers hoping to transition to international school teaching. However, that’s just a snapshot – my cohort on the course is extremely varied and includes edtech business owners, state-school teachers in Thailand, educational materials writers, and unknown bloggers (*waves*).

Here’s a Q+A style chat I had with a friend on the pros and cons of taking this course. For context, we are based in Thailand, and I currently teach at an international school. (more…)