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EAL Resources in international schools

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by SciHQ, Nov 20, 2018.

  1. SciHQ

    SciHQ New commenter


    I am currently in my first international post and am teaching a large majority of students where English is their second language. Aside from a CPD paid course can anyone recommend some very good EAL books/resources for secondary school teaching which give a good selection of usable teaching methods straight off the bat? I've stalked Amazon and am struggling to find appropriate resources. General resources and pedagogy would be greatly appreciated, with any science specific methods/info/ideas being even better.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. loislane1

    loislane1 New commenter

    Twink the primary site may be of help (they have key phases which could be kept in each classroom), use itranslate or similar, translate keywords prior to each lesson, pair with a student who can translate or a member of staff, give students the worksheet/task as you are explaining or teaching them the concept, students have a notebook to write down words they do not understand to translate later. Sharing these methods with all staff so all staff tries to follow the same way may also help. Hope this helps. :)
  3. yasf

    yasf Occasional commenter

  4. sparklesparkle

    sparklesparkle Established commenter

    This creates a classroom in which the students' first language is dominant. It may undermine the authority of the teacher. Plus, constant translation won't improve their English and internet translation programmes can be unreliable. These strategies would help to integrate a single EAL pupil in a UK classroom but the OP's situation is different.

    I would suggest the OP gives students keywords in advance of the lesson so that they can look them as homework. Providing definitions in English is another way to go but doing this on a regular basis will give the OP extra work. It would be a good idea to put up definitions of the most important terms around the classroom.
  5. Ne11y

    Ne11y Occasional commenter

    As someone from a EFL teaching background working in a similar situation, the key thing is to shift towards vocabulary more than you might in the UK. Be prepared to spend a bit of time establishing key vocabulary in each lesson, checking understanding in context.

    I am a primary teacher, so things differ greatly, but still...Imagine how you might differentiate for SEN or lower ability children. Keep things visual, model heavily, use straightforward and repetitive language. Break tasks into steps and focus on a key concept that they need to achieve: other areas can be addressed another time. For example, if you want them to perform an experiment, record it using photo or video evidence to take the pressure off the need to write. If you want them to write something up, model it for them, give them key words and phrases, do parts as a whole class, in groups and individually.

    It doesn't mean they can't achieve to a high ability, but that to follow you/pick up the language, you need to break things down.

    Sorry if this is teaching you to suck eggs! Unless you are an English teacher, most readily available EFL materials will be of little use to you, although some theory and understanding of language teaching and progression will be useful for you to understand their needs. There are coursebooks for teaching subjects to non-native speakers, but at primary level at least, I find they are not revolutionary in their approach.

    I agree that you should try and use as little of the local language as possible. They are secondary children, they should be able to learn key words and phrases with some support.
  6. sparklesparkle

    sparklesparkle Established commenter

    That would only work at primary level. Secondary pupils need to write things down, particularly if they are IB or IGCSE classes.
  7. Ne11y

    Ne11y Occasional commenter

    I suspected something like that....
  8. tb9605

    tb9605 Occasional commenter

    Get the students to do a level test https://www.cambridgeenglish.org/test-your-english/ to find out where they are on the CFER (A1 to C2) framework. Then, get your school to invest in some relevant textbooks - I like the Gold and Objective series. I find that they can be integrated into the teaching of English National Curriculum KS3/ GCSE relatively well. For example:

    - when looking at writing formally, do some work beforehand on inversion for emphasis and alternatives to phrasal verbs
    - before writing a News Report, do some work from the textbook on passives
    - use the narrative tenses parts of the textbook to prep students for creative writing
    - if you are studying If by Kipling, look at the format and meaning of first conditionals
    - after marking a piece of writing, set individual students/groups particular pages numbers from the book to do in order to address the errors in their writing(* Grammar in use/ Advanced Grammar in use are also good for this)

    Also, http://elt-connect.com/a1-c1-lessons also has some good lessons - free with resources.

    Not necessarily - if you can put the video somewhere where students are able to review it (VLE, school blog, shared folder on google drive) then students will still be able to use it for revision purposes... perhaps somewhat better than notes they may have copied (incorrectly) from the board that they don't fully understand.
  9. buaslo

    buaslo New commenter

    Try EAL Hub. Lots of resources and £18 a year subscription for individuals.
    yasf likes this.
  10. sparklesparkle

    sparklesparkle Established commenter

    A really bad idea for numerous reasons. For many students, and many schools, tests are a big deal. You would need to tell the students the results and this could cause acrimony. And what if the students are doing well in their normal English class but you class them as low-ability according to the CFER?
    How are EFL textbooks relevant to teaching science? And in an international school, it isn't the school which pays for textbooks. It's the parents.
    How or why would a science teacher do some work on inversion for emphasis? Or use 'narrative' tenses, whatever they may be? Or look at the format and meaning of first conditionals? How is any of this relevant to a non-specialist teacher?
  11. sparklesparkle

    sparklesparkle Established commenter

    How does this teach them to WRITE? You know, the kind of stuff they'll need to do for IGCSE and the IB? This might be ok in an under-performing UK school but parents in an international school will go ape when their children tell them they 'made a video' in science. Also, there are safeguarding issues with regard to storing images of children.
  12. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    No - in my school (ave. IB score of around 38 - 39 and top in Beijing) getting them to do videos, podcasts, etc is one of the key ways that we get them to understand the topic. Writing runs alongside that - it's not a replacement for it.

    It's also part of the Talk 4 Writing strategy devised by Pie Corbett - this is very effective in lower / primary schools, and is starting to be introduced in secondary. Basically the first stage is to talk through the piece and plan it using models, and the actual writing doesn't come until the end. It was devised for lower ability English students in the UK but it's highly effective for EAL as well.
    tb9605 likes this.
  13. tb9605

    tb9605 Occasional commenter

    Sorry, I'd missed the bit in the OP about this being for Science - I guess the clue was in the poster's name!

    Well, in that case, ask your English department for the students' levels and select resources accordingly. In fact, OP, just ask your English Department your original question - surely they'll be able to support you in this and tell you what resources are available to you inside the school?

    If you can't say something, then you can't write it down. Talking preceeds writing (there's a whole strand of pedagogy called "Talk for writing") - so having students record oral reports/discussions will allow the Science teacher to more quickly assess the Science learning while also allowing students to rehearse their writing before they put pen to paper. It also allows for teachers to correct grammatical/vocabulary errors, alongside knowledge errors, before these are committed to paper too. Students can always write it up for homework, but this time they will have a model to work from (the video) and, crucially, be able to work at their own pace.

    Thanks for telling me that there are safeguarding issues with regard to storing images of children. However, most school policies will permit this, provided you have the requisite parental permissions.
  14. sparklesparkle

    sparklesparkle Established commenter

    Have you ever worked in an international school? It's unlikely they will have CFER levels and in any case, how would they be relevant to a non-specialist? English departments are not EFL/EAL departments. English specialists are trained to teach Eng Lit and Eng Lang to native speakers. They may not have EFL resources and even if they do, a science teacher won't know how to interpret and use an EFL textbook.

    Again, how would a science teacher go about correcting grammatical/vocabulary errors?
    They might be able to spell 'precedes' correctly, though.

    As for storing images of children, you suggested that the teacher store and upload the videos. That's where the safeguarding issue comes in. The students would need to do it for themselves. Apart from anything else, doesn't the OP have better things to do than upload dozens of videos?
  15. loislane1

    loislane1 New commenter

    I work in an international school and some of these strategies may work, not all but some may. They are not all to be used together.
  16. tb9605

    tb9605 Occasional commenter

    Are you ok @sparklesparkle? You seem pretty grouchy. There's no need to come over all passive-aggressive.

    I have worked (and currently do) work in an International School. We use the CFER levels. Perhaps schools outside Europe don't - I'm not sure. How would they be relevant to a non-specialist you ask? Well, they would help the non-specialist judge which errors are issues of language comprehension (the students didn't understand the task instructions or the key vocabulary) or of subject comprehension (they didn't get the Science). If a student is A2, it's probably the former. If they are C1 or higher, it's definitely the latter. The non-specialist can then ensure that they intervene either through pre-teaching key vocabulary/providing glossaries OR revisiting the Science point, as appropriate.

    If the English Department in an International School does not have strategies to cope with students who are learning it as a second (or third, etc) Language, I would be very surprised. Unless it's a school that insists on all students having B2 or above in English as a condition for entry, I would imagine most International Schools have support/intervention/catch-up classes (call it what you will) for students whose English is not strong enough to make GCSE a viable option. We do. Those classes will probably use TEFL material and, hopefully, be taught by teachers with a TEFL background.

    I think you are doing Science teachers a disservice here! I may not be a Science specialist, but I still know how to interpret and use a Science (or Geography, or Maths, or German) textbook on the odd occassion I'm called upon to cover. And on those occassions when non-English teachers have to cover English lessons, they tend to be able to use our textbooks! It is - literally - not rocket science!

    Um.... they way they would normally, in line with their school's Literacy across the Curriculum policy, I would hope. Except, if they talk to their English Department they may get some insight on the misunderstandings that underlie certain errors, so they can address the cause, rather than just correct the syptoms as they manifest themselves in written or spoken English. One of the Science teachers at my school has the door to his lab covered with errors of grammar or vocabulary he has heard students make during spoken tasks/discussions. He then invites students to correct these while they wait to be let in... it's awesome.

    Perhaps under your school's Safeguarding policy it's an issue. Under ours it isn't - we have parents' permission and our policies comply with the relevant local and European laws. It takes about 30 seconds to grab some files off an ipad and drop them into a shared area (it'll take longer for them to copy over, but you can do other things while they are). I leave it to the OP's judgement whether this is a good use of their time or not. Although, your idea of having the students upload the videos is even better...

    Have a pleasant evening.
    loislane1 likes this.
  17. yasf

    yasf Occasional commenter

    You took the words out of my mouth.

    That said, in the absence of anything better, you could use the CEFR scale to identify and level ESL students - at least in secondary.
    loislane1 likes this.
  18. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    In all my schools we have had seperate language departments. The English department only does English A lessons.

    Dont get me started on the total B.S of safeguarding. We have full permission to video and photograph kids learning, and that has been the case in all my schools
  19. yasf

    yasf Occasional commenter

    As it should be. But there is no proper PGCE for ESL, so the Brits tend to dump it on the English department.
  20. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Ahhh, that makes sense. Yet another reason never to work in a British school again :)

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