Primary EAL: No Student Left Behind
Primary teachers at Yew Chung International School of Beijing have been taking part in a series of workshops lead by our English Additional Language (EAL) specialists. We speak to EAL teacher Ms Marlena Hawkins about the workshops and how we support students with English language acquisition.
Please introduce the Primary EAL Programme
In the Primary Learning Communities there are a number of specialist EAL teachers. We teach lesson content alongside the co-teachers, but with particular focus on language acquisition. This entails working with small groups, or an individual student, to enable them to access the curriculum fully. We review each student’s language need and progress on a daily basis, and adapt our approaches in order to serve them as best we can.
What changes are being made to our Primary EAL programme this year and why?
Previously, our approach to EAL was more of a “pull out” approach – whereby students with low English language level were removed from mainstream lessons to focus on language learning. This year, the whole school is moving towards a “push in” approach. This means that EAL teaching takes place in mainstream lessons. Students learn the same material, supported with language by EAL staff.
How will these better support our EAL students?
This method is already proving to be a success. Firstly, students can benefit from peer-to-peer support. They are able to learn from their peers with higher English levels in a natural, friendly setting.
It also means that no student is left behind in the curriculum. The learning outcomes are the same and they can move through topics as one group.
You have been leading a series of EAL workshops for teachers this semester. Please explain what these are for
Yes we have had two so far and there will be another in March. We are in the process of training all our Primary teachers in specialist EAL strategies. This will better support our students and ensure that the curriculum content and learning materials are always easily accessible.
How can parents help with EAL at home?
The best thing that parents can do is read. Read with your children and ask them questions about the book as you go along. It doesn’t have to be an English book. A book in your mother tongue is still useful practice for engaging with a story and comprehending language.