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.
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.