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Trainee teaching Macbeth (EAL/ESL help)

Discussion in 'English' started by ManOfSteele_, Dec 2, 2018.

  1. ManOfSteele_

    ManOfSteele_ New commenter

    Hi everyone.

    Apologies if this is not the right place to post this, I'm just looking for some pointers regarding my rather challenging situation.

    I started teaching English as a trainee in September 2018. It is not my degree subject but I have felt more than capable teaching it, as I did Language and Literature at A-Level. However, in half-term 2 I have run into a rather new set of challenges with my bottom-set year 10 class.

    I have recently inherited two boys from Eastern Europe into my class. They are nice boys but they have very, very limited English skills. I struggle to get them to understand what I am saying (my accent doesn't help much in this regard) and feel like I am letting them and the rest of the class down. There are only 4 boys in the class.

    I am not an ESL/EAL teacher. I guess what I am asking is that now I have moved on to teaching Macbeth, I am conscious that I can probably just about get them to understand the plot, but I am not getting anything useful from them in terms of assessment. I cannot make them understand how to answer questions about Macbeth, or get them to find deeper meanings behind English phrases that they don't even understand the surface meanings of. I am really struggling with this class now. I feel like I am not making any progress with regards to their GCSE Lit exam next year. Any help from ESL/EAL teachers or just teachers that have taught Macbeth to lower ability classes would be greatly appreciated.
  2. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    All I can suggest is a graphic version of the play, the No Fear Shakespeare version with modern translation, watching a good version on YouTube (or similar), getting versions in their native language, BBC Bitesize has good summaries with images - this will help them to understand the plot. Use visuals, use colour coding for instructions/key words, etc. Do they have dictionaries? Give them a bank of key words.

    In terms of writing essays you'll need to stick to basic PEE paragraphs, perhaps using short extracts. Do some 'fill in the blank' examples for them. They may not be capable of that though if their English is so limited. Is it possible to give them differentiated assessments? (e.g. 'What do you know about Macbeth?'), or get them to put the plot in order (cut out words or pictures). Get advice from your mentor and head of KS on this.

    Unfortunately secondary schools are terrible at dealing with new-to-English kids. The government has advice for primaries, but not for secondaries.

    What are the expected grades of the other 2 members of the class for lang and lit? If these 2 are new to English then their expected outcomes will be lower. You need to adjust your expectations, and not be so hard on yourself - these kids are capable of what they're capable of. You can offer them a friendly and comfortable classroom, give them opportunities to try to use English without being embarrassed, and opportunities to express themselves, but you cannot teach them English from scratch - it's not possible, and it's not your job. They still have more than one year before the actual GCSEs, and lots can happen in that time in terms of confidence, language ability and attitude.

    When I taught Macbeth to a bottom set at my previous school I made it into a game, with points for completing tasks (or 'quests' as I called them).

    Can you link lit to lang through transactional writing? That could offer opportunities for language development.
    pepper5, tb9605 and Mrsmumbles like this.
  3. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    Lots of good advice above. Macbeth is such a well-known play that there will be a version in their language. It's just a matter of finding it but perhaps that's something easier for them to do than you.
    They can't be expected to reach GCSE level in such a short space of time so manage your expectations (as mentioned) and certainly don't beat yourself up about it. The fact you're on here asking for advice makes it clear you do care.
    Feel free to PM or write to me at my username's Gmail. I have been in this situation myself so maybe I can dig up some resources.
    pepper5 likes this.
  4. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    There may be something on Mr Bruff - youtube. He used to do cartoon type stuff.
    Please, please, don't teach them that it is an Elizabethan play. It's Not! I am fed up of teachers telling students that it is an Elizabethan play.
    pepper5 likes this.
  5. Wings77

    Wings77 New commenter

    Try the NALDIC and the Bell Foundation, they have lots of resources that you can easily use. I work in a school that has a high number of EAL students with varying abilities in English acquisition. I'm assuming you don't have an EAL co-ordinator. I made my own workbooks with help from our EAL teacher and then took resources from the Bell foundation and added them for a basic understanding of Shakespeare texts.
    Also a good resource for all levels of learners is myshakespeare.com it is an interactive resource that has character interviews/translations/performances alongside the script - I used it for Romeo and Juliet alongside my everyday teaching. Hope that helps.

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