S5: EAL Training

Yesterday’s training session focused on a very important aspect of modern day teaching- EAL and the successful inclusion of these pupils in class. The session was run by a long-standing teacher with hands on, practical experience of supporting children with additional needs. This particular trainer was one which we have had previously, and I have thoroughly enjoyed her sessions; so it is not surprising to say that I was looking forward to another informative one.

The trainer began the session by talking to us in a different language, which had us all very puzzled. After, she asked us to discuss how that made us all feel. As she was talking I knew this was going to be used as a valuable teaching point to get us (trainees) into the mindset of how some of the pupils’ in our classes may feel if they have English as an additional language.

Throughout the morning session, myself and the rest of the trainees on the table had structured conversations and brainstormed potential barriers to learning. We were invited to share these with the rest of the cohort and I found this to be extremely helpful in identifying other things I had not previously considered. For example, by using visual timetables for EAL pupils’ and not just shown to support children with autism or other special educational needs.

Upon reflection of the morning, I began to think about specific children with EAL in my class and where they have come from and their past experiences. After being shown quite an intense video relating to the Syrian refugee crisis, it made me reflect on how well do I know the personal circumstances of children in my current class?

I posed a question at the beginning of the session after a discussion with a fellow trainee and thought whether it was possible for a child to have EAL and SEND, and if so how do you know when a child’s needs are both? It was because of this question that I am able to understand how various factors influence this particular group of children (S5- have a secure understanding of how a range of factors can inhibit pupils’ ability to learn). During the break, I approached the trainer about a specific child in my class who joined back in November 2017; who has an EAL need but also, she has significant cognitive difficulties too protocol (S8- knowing when and how to seek specialist advice when needed). This makes my job as a teacher, even more difficult as I have to consider practical ways of supporting all her needs by providing visual resources in every lesson for her as an effective way of differentiation. (S5-have a clear understanding of the needs of pupils, including those who have special educational needs and those with English as an additional language). The trainer was able to advise me on the best course of action which was to speak to the school SENCO and follow protocol.

In the afternoon session, we watched another video clip presented by Sue Cowley on effective ways to support EAL learners in class; repetition of language and gestures were some of the key ones I picked up on whilst watching this. I also saw some examples of practice which I knew wasn’t as suitable such as talking to the class as a whole instead of targeting specific children and personalise instructions to them.

The rest of the afternoon continued to be informative and I left the session feeling much more able to support those pupils’ with these particular needs in order to make them feel included and become valued members of the class.

I will go away with an improved understanding and an awareness of barriers to learning for these pupils and practical ways of supporting them.

Focused next steps:

As part of the evaluation of the session; I was asked to think of 3 things which I could do straight away to make a difference for an EAL child. I have chosen these to include;

  • To create a welcome poster to display on the class door, stating the languages that are spoken in my class. This will show how I value differences within the class and promote British Values
  • To encourage EAL pupils to have a ‘buddy’ if they wish (one buddy who speaks English fluently and another who speaks the same language as them). This will ensure an EAL pupil is exposed to a good level of English whilst being able to express themselves in their home language if needed
  • Encouraging the class to answer the register in a language which are spoken in my class

Further liaise with the school SENCO regarding a child in my class in the hope that she is put on a SEND passport because of her difficulties