Strategies for Teaching EAL/D (English as an Additional Language or Dialect) Students

In Australia’s multicultural society it is essential that teachers understand how to work with EAL/D students and have strategies in place to enable the best possible opportunities to interact with and learn English and literacy. Gibbons (1991), states that ‘one in four of all children in Australian schools speak English as their second language. Although non-English speaking background students tend to pick up what Gibbons refers to as ‘playground language’ fairly quickly, educators must ensure that they plan activities which will develop the students understanding of the type of language used in the classroom.

The video demonstrates methods applicable within a classroom to assist with such learners, specifically those in the earlier years of primary school. It encourages educators to engage the students in literacy based activities which are kept simple, firmly embedded in practical language, directly connected to both the surrounding and different specific environments, demonstrate clear examples and gradually increase the difficulty of tasks with the proficiency of the learner. The activities depicted in the video are extremely beneficial to EAL/D students as they allow them to learn and develop their skills in a supportive and interactive environment.

The activity demonstrated in the video would be exceptionally useful to EAL/D students as it enabled them to utilise their growing understanding of the English language in a positive environment, applying it to the objects and tasks surrounding them and building in complexity as they learn. The addition of modifiers to the questions in Barrier Game One, ‘Put a red counter on the first part of the caterpillar’ (Using Barrier Games, 2014, 2:21), allows the educator the opportunity to assess the students learning process and determine whether areas need further revision in order to be applied to the task. This teaching method is supportive of Gibbon’s postulation that EAL/D students tend to memorize ‘chunks of language and routine phrases’ (Gibbons, 1991, p. 9), gradually introducing new concepts and words. The introduction of a barrier (2:56), demonstrated a further stage of proficiency from the students, and required them to have a solid understanding of the language on an individual level. Previously they had been able to seek assistance from the other student however now they needed to make the decision on their own, thus allowing the teacher to assess the progress of each child separately. In between activities the teacher modeled how to set up and play the games, thus demonstrating necessary everyday skills whilst still reinforcing the language they had been learning and how to apply it ‘What do you see?’ ‘Spots and spikes’ (4:45). Barrier Game Two both reinforced the previous lessons and began to use them in conjunction with social and cultural conventions necessary for daily interactions, such as turn-taking, with the educator using sophisticated yet understandable language and actions to indicate the order.

The video depicts several useful and sophisticated lessons which could easily be applied by a teacher in order to assist their EAL/D students. The tasks build in complexity gradually and allow the children’s language abilities to progress at their own pace.

Reference List
Using Barrier Games. (2014). [image] Available at: http://youtu.be/nka1-nuCyAA [Accessed 26 Apr. 2014].
Gibbons, P. (1991). Learning to learn in a second language. 1st ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Group Reader Role Reflection

Introduction:

Over the past week we have been focusing on utilising group work and ‘reader roles’ in order to better enable us to analyse and understand a text. This activity focused on a Winch Reading from Literacy published in 2010. My personal role was graphic artist which involved visually representing the crucial elements of the texts (as seen in my depiction of the four reader roles below), something that was challenging yet resulted in a deeper understanding of the text. I found that condensing the key ideas into pictures to convey their meaning was difficult, however believe that the group presentation allowed me to expand upon and explain my visual cues in order to best convey the points to all the learner types in my group.

Image

My Reading Reflection:

Winch (2010) highlights the critical learning devices, strategies and components employed to ensure the one is reading ‘effectively’. Winch emphasises the importance of context, postulating that it is only through an understanding of the influences of both the author’s context, and that of the reader that a text may be fully analysed; “‘reading’ changes, depending on the context in which it is being used’” (p. 30). He exemplifies the changing literacy mediums, reflective of Freebody’s (2012) theory of a “literacy-saturated world” (p.4). Winch identifies digital texts as one changing medium, outlining the different approach required to read and analyse, compared to traditional paper-based print. This establishes the critical role of educators who must adapt to the changing nature of literacy and model a wide range of effective reading practices. Such reading strategies Winch suggests, should draw upon the textual form, understanding the context, genre and register of the text, and also the sources of information or “cue systems” (p. 32), identified as the semantic, grammatical, phonological-graphological and visual/pictorial information, which form the foundation of any literary understanding. Furthermore, Winch emphasises the four “reader roles” (Freebody, 1990, 1999), which any effective reader utilises in order to “access, understand, use, reflect on, evaluate, and respond to a text” (Winch, 2010, p. 38), those of analyst, code-breaker, user and participant. These form the continuous reading strategy which Winch postulates is the most effective means of gaining understanding, scanning the text, obtaining an overview of the crucial ideas, utilising the cueing systems to predict and confirm meaning, and finally correcting uncertainty by reanalysing the information (p. 43). It is through a combination of these strategies that Winch believes the reader can obtain the most accurate understanding of any given text and confirms his statement that “effective reading is a complex, thinking activity” (p. 46). (Word Count = 300)

My Group Reflection:

The group activity resulted in a deeper of understanding of the reading as allowing individual analysis of an aspect of the text, before combining, a concept which resulted in a more detailed deconstruction and reflection. My graphic-artist role highlighted the importance of visual cueing systems in creating understanding, although it was challenging to minimise the emphasis on the text. The group’s different roles enabled me to focus on the text’s other aspects in greater detail. The feedback reflected the group’s collaboration enabled identification of weaker areas, allowing us to, as Winch suggests, return to the text for more information (p. 43), thus growing in our understanding. (Word Count = 106)
 
Reference ListWinch, G., Johnston, R. R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L. and Holliday, M. 2010. Towards a Model of Reading. In: Winch, G. eds. 2010. Literacy. 4th ed. South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.

Freebody, P. 2012. Knowledge about Language, Literacy and Literature in the Teaching and Learning of English. In: Simpson, A., Freebody, P. and Comber, B. eds. 2012. Literacy, Language and Literature. 2nd ed. South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.