Author: Gemma Fanning, EAL Specialist
While it can be argued that EAL learners have an entitlement to experience a full and varied curriculum through complete class immersion and no withdrawal, some would argue that learners benefit from being withdrawn for time limited support to help them develop their English language in order to assist them in accessing the curriculum (NALDIC, FAQ Podcast, 2017).
If learners are unable to access the lesson content, they can feel frustrated and a sense of failure. Learners need to feel confident and successful.
Trzebiatowski (2017) explains that withdrawing students in a small group can allow the students to feel safe and provide them with a step-by-step, well-structured learning environment which will give them the building blocks they need to access the mainstream classroom.
A study by Thomas and Collier (1997) found that EAL learners do not benefit entirely from mainstream instruction as much as they do when they receive academic content taught by an EAL teacher during withdrawal group sessions. In Thomas and Collier’s (1997) research they found that learners who had received a withdrawal group programme, were later able to access the mainstream classroom and finish school with similar average scores to that of their native speaking peers. This shows that offering suitable withdrawal can be very effective. Of course, appropriate differentiation within the class is also imperative.
So what are the benefits of withdrawing learners from the mainstream classroom? According to the British Council EAL Nexus website, a withdrawal programme claims to fall into three broad categories; social, linguistic and logistical advantages (Small Group Intervention outside Mainstream, EAL Nexus. British Council, n.d. Web. 2017). Here are the details:
If your school has decided to withdraw students then planning is a crucial element. Here are some considerations for planning an EAL small group support class (adapted from Pim, 2011):
Four Stage Accelerated Learning Cycle (Smith, Lovatt and Wise cited Scott, 2012 p 56) is a useful model that can be used for teaching EAL learners. These four stages include; connect phase, activate phase, demonstrate phase and consolidate phase. Here’s a breakdown of each phase:
This phase connects with what has been learnt already. It fits with activating prior knowledge and Ogle’s questions; What do I know? What do I want to find out? It’s also about sharing new learning objectives.
The activate phase includes obtaining the information needed to solve the problems (using the language). This is the chance to inspire, to use varied activities and “immerse activities in structured language… and allow students to construct their own meanings in a variety of group situations” (Smith, Lovatt and Wise 2003:20).
The demonstrate phase includes providing the learners the chance to show they know what has been taught.
The consolidate phase includes a chance for reflection on their learning that should be linked back to the connection phase by reflecting on what the learners now know. It’s important to ensure this section is related to the learners’ own lives by applying their new learning to real life experiences.
An example of a 5 minute planning template using these phases is attached and will help support you with the planning of your small group support sessions.
Within this plan, you can focus on areas such as:
View a five minute lesson planner: here
British Council, ” Small Group Intervention (outside Mainstream) EAL Nexus. British Council, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2017.
Wayne P. Thomas & Virginia P. Collier (1997) School Effectiveness for Language Minority Students, NCBE Resource Collection, George Washington University, Washington
NALDIC. “FAQ Podcasts.” NALDIC | EAL Questions | FAQ Podcasts. NALDIC, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2017.
Pim, C (2011). How to Support Children Learning English as an Additional Language. Cambridge: LDA
Scott, C (2012) . Teaching English as an Additional Language, 5-11: A Whole School Resource File. London: Routledge.
Smith, A. Lovatt, M. Wise, D.(2003) Accelerated Learning: A User’s Guide Paperback
Trzebiatowski, K. (2017) EAL: Excluded by Inclusion, http://valuediversity-teacher.co.uk/eal-excluded-by-inclusion/