Teresa McNally, a Year 3 teacher from Tower Hamlets, London, tells us about her experience with a new EAL arrival

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Teresa McNally, a Year 3 teacher from Tower Hamlets, London, tells us about her experience with a new EAL arrival

Teresa has worked at St John’s C of E for over 2 years. She differentiates for all ability levels but, up to now, she has never had to consider the needs of a child new to English in her class. Teresa admitted to initially feeling a little anxious, however, after seeking advice, referring to the new arrivals procedures at the school, working closely with her teaching assistant, Rumena Aktar, and giving a lot of careful thought to her planning, Teresa put the following in place:
Before arrival:
  • She spoke to the class about what they might expect, how they might feel and what they could do to welcome Elaine. The class created cards for the newcomer with different classroom vocabulary designs on the covers in order to help her with words she may like to learn before she arrives.
  • When Elaine arrived, Teresa worked with the class doing a PSHE lesson from SEAL ‘Sammy’s new beginning’ to help the class empathise with Elaine – see p19  http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110809101133/http://wsassets.s3.amazonaws.com/ws/nso/pdf/0848b5e22bb2703a07a1e58567bce886.pdf
  • During a circle time, they all introduced themselves and modelled how Elaine would do this so she felt comfortable when it came to her turn to introduce herself. The class then found examples of their favourite colours around the room and shared this with Elaine.
  • Teresa introduced Elaine to her buddies who gave her support learning her new routines. They also helped her label the classroom in her mother tongue and English using specially designed labels: http://www.communicationacrosscultures.com/resources
  • Teresa then gave Elaine an EAL box where she could put helpful resources to support her language learning. Items like the language learning games she would be using in her survival language lessons as well as special classroom content language learning activities. These activities continue to be helpful to her when, in order to be successful, the classwork needs to be differentated to the extent that Elaine will learn a slightly different objective that may be more focussed on language learning. Elaine decorated the box herself on the first day and felt very proud of her efforts.
  • In the first couple of days, Elaine was withdrawn from class for a short time to undergo a full assessment of her level of English in order to decide on what language learning objectives would need to be a focus alongside curriculum content learning. She used the detailed assessment in ‘Teaching English as an Additional Language: A Whole School Resource’ by Caroline Scott http://www.communicationacrosscultures.com/resources and the extended scale (NASSEA version): Click here to view ), a letters & sounds phonics assessment and a reading assessment to help plan her next steps. She then began the emergency language lesson which really helped her to become more confident.
  • Finally, Elaine started her survival language intervention which consists of a structured language learning lesson during Literacy. This is adapted to suit curriculum content delivered in the lesson where possible.
  • Teresa found that thinking of activities for Elaine to do in Literacy and Numeracy hadn’t been as hard as she initially thought as she used the survival language objectives from ‘Teaching English as an Additional Language: A Whole School Resource.’ http://www.communicationacrosscultures.com/resources
On reflection, Teresa explained she felt she was using similar skills to when she taught English as an Additional Language in France. Teresa feels that Elaine has felt welcomed and involved. She doesn’t feel that Elaine is isolated and feels she is always included and successful. As a proud year 3 teacher, she is excited to see how much Elaine has learnt and the rate of progress although slightly worried she about constantly challenging her with higher order thinking skills alongside learning the language! Don’t worry Teresa, we’ll give you all the help you need! Note that the new arrival’s name has been changed for confidentiality purposes.

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