English Language Learners | Powerstown Educate Together National School, Tyrrelstown, Dublin 15

English Language Learners

In Ireland the Department of Education refers to pupils who are learning English for the first time as English as an Additional Language (E.A.L.) learners. 

How are E.A.L. learners supported in Powerstown ETNS? 

English as an Additional Language learners are supported in three ways in Powerstown ETNS:

1. Small class sizes

2. Class teachers strongly emphasise oral language and vocabulary development in all lessons

3. Continuum of Support Team (click here for  policy).

The Continuum of Support team provide school support for children whose first language is not English.  Support may be provided in-class to individual children or groups of children or through withdrawal to the Support Room of groups of children.  

The support teacher compliments the being done in class through teaching and reinforcing language around a variety of cross-curricular themes: Each class has a different monthly theme which is shared with parents.

Support teachers also support basic language acquisition under the following headings:
Myself
Our School
Food and Clothes
Colours, shapes and opposites
People who help us
Weather
Transport and travel
Seasons, holidays and festivals
The local and wider community
Time
People and places in other areas
Animals and plants
Caring for my locality

If your child is withdrawn for language support they will be on a specific school support plan which teachers will discuss with you.

 

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PictureThe Silent Period

Children who find themselves in a whole new world of meaningless words, will often take some time to adjust.  The typical stages are:
1) Continuing to speak in their own language
2) Not talking at all


Younger children tend to remain silent longer than older children but there is no standard time frame for it.  A silent period is common in language learning and does not necessarily mean there is a learning problem.  It is important to remember that although the child may not talk they are still learning and when children emerge from the silent period they demonstrate the learning that has taken place.  
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Tips for parents
Here are some tips to help you help your child in their learning of the English language.

Picture 1.  Speak to your child in your native/mother tongue.  

Your child will learn English much more effectively if they continue to develop their first language at the same time.  Every month we will have a Language of the Month and if your native language comes up we would really appreciate your help so if you could come in and read a story in your language or teach us a few words that would be great!

2.  Ask your child about what they are learning and doing in school.

 

In doing this you will learn the words that are important in your child’s school life. Every month we will introduce a new theme so if you could also talk to your child about this theme, animals for example it would greatly benefit their learning.
Check your child’s monthly theme under the “Curriculum” page on the school website. (Click here)
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Picture 3.  Read Regularly

Reading is an invaluable skill that only improves with practice. Parents can help by providing access to books and reading aloud to their children. While it’s important to practice reading in English, not every book must be in English. Reading in their native language can help students preserve their culture while also improving their overall reading fluency. Students who read well in another language are more likely to experience success in English literacy.

4.  Communicate with Teachers

Talking to teachers and other school personnel may feel daunting for parents, especially if you are not comfortable with your own English skills. Teachers frequently interact with adults who are learning English and google translate or staff/parent/friends can translate are very helpful resources!

Teachers can be invaluable partners in helping your children reach their full potential. In addition to reporting on a student’s overall progress, teachers may be able to suggest the best methods for practicing English at home and point you to helpful resources.

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Picture 5.  Model Learning

One of the greatest ways for parents to help their children learn English is by attempting to learn English themselves. When parents are able to use English at home, more opportunities will arise for children to practice speaking and listening. Parents and children practicing their new skills together can be a great motivator.  Even parents who are fluent in English can demonstrate the importance of learning by focusing on an area of improvement, such as studying a difficult novel to learn complex vocabulary or bettering their writing skills.

The school will run FREE English classes for adults and/or have access to classes for parents.  If you or anyone you know are interested in attending please let us know.  Details of classes will be posted on noticeboard, website and sent home via the school app.

And Lastly…

6.  Be patient.

Understand that learning a language is a complex, long-term process.  Learning in a new language also takes lots of energy so please ensure that your child gets plenty of rest.

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PETNS EAL Practice Statement

Introduction

Powerstown Educate Together is an equality-based educational school that values diversity and celebrates cultural differences. This statement aims to compliment the school’s continuum of support policy, and emphasises the focus on language acquisition, especially for pupils for whom English is an additional language to ensure successful inclusion throughout the school.

Rationale

This statement was drawn up in order to:

  • Ensure the inclusion of all pupils throughout the school, including those with English as an additional language.
  • To ensure an inclusive school that reflects and upholds the Educate Together ethos

while nurturing each child to develop their full potential in a caring environment.

  • To develop EAL pupils’ proficiency in English so they can gradually gain access to the curriculum.
  • To ensure respect is given towards pupils own culture and language.
  • To develop self-esteem and positive attitudes towards the English language and the learning process
  • Powerstown E.T.N.S values the contribution which ethnic minority children make through bringing their culture and language to enrich the school environment. The school shall provide the means for ethnic minority children to achieve their full academic potential. We do this through taking account of each child’s life experiences and needs.
  • We recognise speaking and listening in English as integral to learning in school. We are also committed to raising the achievement of minority ethnic pupils who are at a risk of underachieving. Therefore we will identify pupils’ language needs and facilitate appropriate provision, recognise the skills they bring to school thus ensuring equality of access to the curriculum.

Aims

The main aim of this statement is to create an inclusive school environment which reflects and affirms linguistic, ethnic and cultural diversity and the ethos of Educate Together. We aim to provide our pupils with a safe and supporting environment that values diversity and celebrates cultural differences.

Powerstown Educate Together strives to achieve this by

  • Supporting pupils of ethnic minorities to develop their self -esteem and to ensure they have a sense of belonging within the school community. (please refer to our pupil well-being policy)
  • Providing E.A.L. children with supplementary teaching, additional support and resources to support their learning. (please refer to our Continuum of Support policy)
  • Promoting the well-being of E.A.L. pupils by raising awareness of the ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic diversity within the school and celebrating these differences.
  • Working towards achieving full access to the curriculum and be fully competent and confident in the English language.
  • Providing pupils with real experiences, and meaningful interactions that will allow them to become independent learners.
  • Promoting collaboration between teachers, children and parents.

It is the aim of PETNS that every child with EAL needs is enabled to:

  • Access all areas of the curriculum.
  • Reach their full potential.
  • Work with a growing degree of confidence.
  • Continue to use their first language with pride and confidence.
  • Use a range of languages including everyday English (conversational language) and technical and scientific language (academic language).
  • Express themselves confidently in a range of situations on a variety of subjects to differing audiences.
  • Express themselves in both spoken and written English.
  • Rely on the support of adults within the classroom and in small groups where and when they need it.
  • Have access to a range of resources which will aid their learning.

It is the aim of PETNS that every member of staff:

  • Is familiar with this statement
  • Is aware of the EAL students in each teaching group.
  • Ensures the lessons and materials are accessible to allow for language difficulties by providing additional/ modified resources.
  • Is informed about all courses/classes to aid professional development in this area.

Role of the Continuum of Support (COS) teacher

The COS Teachers’ main role is to provide supplementary teaching and extra support for pupils, including those with English as an Additional Language, so they can successfully access to the curriculum.  “The principal objective of the language support programme is to integrate the pupil as quickly as possible into all mainstream learning and activities of the school.”   (Up and Away p. 20)

The COS Teacher will:

  • Prepare the pupil on an ongoing basis to access mainstream learning , initially, in part and later, more fully
  • Withdraw E.A.L. pupils individually or in small groups to undertake relevant activities if necessary and beneficial to the child(ren)
  • Devise a suitable programme taking into account the individual needs of the child e.g. School Support Plan if child is withdrawn, differentiated learning tasks if in-class support is provided.
  • Assess pupils bi-annually, or as they arrive, using the Primary School Assessment Kit to ensure progression in key areas (Speaking, listening, reading and writing). (please refer to Assessment Policy)
  • Collaborate with class teachers both formally and informally on a regular basis to ensure consistency and progression.
  • Give the children academic and social language fluency (accessing the curriculum and socialising with peers and with the school community)
  • Provide information to teachers on intercultural matters from time to time

“In collaboration with parents and mainstream class teachers, EAL support teachers identify pupils requiring additional language support, assess pupils’ proficiency in English using the assessment materials, devise appropriate language programmes, deliver the programmes and record and monitor pupils’ progress. They share their expertise with mainstream class teachers and assist in developing and disseminating good practice to support the development of students’ English language proficiency.” Circular 0015/2009 

Organisation of language support in Powerstown ETNS

  • Some department allocated “EAL teachers” are delpoyed to the classroom to keep class sizes small.
  • COS teachers have been dispersed throughout to school to ensure that there is at least one support teacher for each class grouping.
  • COS teachers are assigned by the principal based on the needs of each class.
  • It is encouraged by the management team, that where at all possible, language support would be carried out in class as station teaching or as small group work within the classroom. In some circumstances children need to be withdrawn i.e. to aid time management if support teacher is shared between two classes or if children have difficulties focusing within the classroom.
  • In September of each year, support teachers spend their time ensuring that newly arrived pupils with little or no English are settling in and gaining sufficient levels of conversational English to enable them to adapt to their new school and its routines.

Collaboration between the COS teacher and the class teacher

  • Collaboration between the COS teachers and the classroom teachers takes place informally throughout during the school week and formally at least once a fortnight.
  • This planning is organised on fortnightly basis during planning meeting times.
  • The objectives of such planning is to ensure that the pupil is helped to integrate into the learning and social environment of the school.
  • The class teacher and support teacher discuss themes and units of work in the different subject areas and together they devise a plan or strategies to enable the EAL learner to take part in those lessons.
  • Teachers consult COS teachers regarding upcoming assessments in the classroom.
  • Class teachers keep support teachers informed of EAL students’ progress/reactions/integration in classroom. Likewise the support teacher can share any concerns that may have arisen in the close contact lessons which he/she carries out.
  • Support Teachers are aware of the feedback from class teacher forms that are available in Up and Away (pgs. 22 and 23) and will use these where suitable/necessary.
  • Class teachers given a copy of the thirteen themes raising their awareness of these themes and how they connect to the curriculum in general
  • Support teachers will use the same Language for RSE ( e.g. body parts) as class room teachers
  • Classroom and Support teachers exchange plans
  • There is an agreed checklist for observing the strengths and challenges faced by the pupil during the settling in period (Re Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing) Reference Circular 0015/2009 and Up and Away p. 4,6.

Individual teacher planning and reporting

  • Support teachers and class teachers plan collaboratively for in-class support lessons (e.g. stations)
  • If withdrawing pupils, support teachers complete a fortnightly plan, with set targets which is shared with class teacher. This plan compliments the class teacher’s plan where possible.
  • Teachers should use the templates provided by the school and all teachers record plans on planning website.
  • There is an agreed template for the Cuntas Míosúil. This template can be amended to suit each teacher based on the model of support they use.

Identification of pupils requiring language support, and assessment of the Language Proficiency of pupils for whom English is an additional language

The principle objective of the language support programme is to integrate pupils as quickly as possible so they can gain access to the curriculum as well as integrating with others. Pupils are identified for Language Support on the following basis:

  • On arrival to Powerstown ETNS parents must complete a form regarding the needs of their children. If the child has received language support in their previous school, it is the duty of the support teacher to contact this school and find out all relevant information regarding the amount and nature of support received.
  • Observations and feedback from class teachers.
  • All newcomer pupils must complete ‘The Placement Test’ of The Primary School Assessment test in September. Language support teachers must carry out initial interviews and checklists for observing during the silent period and complete feedback forms to guide teachers (Up and Away pp. 20-25).
  • The Primary School Assessment Kit is used to establish and identify the children with English language needs but also to assess the progress of those who have been receiving language support in the school.
  • Primary School Assessment Kit is used to assess pupil’s proficiency in the four key areas:
  1. Speaking
  2.  Listening
  3. Reading
  4. Writing
  • The tests in the kit are based on IILT’s English Language Proficiency Benchmarks and assesses pupils progress through all three levels:

A1 – Waystage

A2 – Breakthrough

B1 – Threshold

  • These assessments take place in September, for newcomer children, and March for all other EAL learners. These tests are administer throughout the school at a set time in September and March by support teachers
  • When a pupil has achieved level B1 in all language skills i.e. the receptive language skills of listening and reading and the productive skills of spoken interaction, spoken production and writing (Up and Away p. 36), then he/she has achieved the minimum proficiency to access the curriculum in the mainstream classroom.
  • Where at all possible, support teachers take EAL children in ability groups i.e. all children in A1 breakthrough stage, all in A2 waystage and all in B1 threshold stage together.
  • Work is planned at the appropriate level for the child and in accordance with these English Language Proficiency Benchmarks and the thirteen units of work based on the Primary School Curriculum.
  • There is a collaborative approach between the class teacher and support teacher in communicating with parents. All formal parent teacher meetings are usually held in November and May. Both support and mainstream teachers conduct these meetings collaboratively in the case of EAL children. It is possible for parents, who do not speak English as their first language, to bring family friends to these meetings to translate. In these cases pictorial representations of progress are also used parents are given opportunity to view samples of children’s work.
  • If a child is withdrawn for language support, a support plan is drafted collaboratively between support teacher, class teacher, parents and pupils (if possible).

School EAL Allocation

  • PETNS has an official allocation of “ZERO” EAL teachers
  • When applying for EAL support for pupils who have not reached level B1 proficiency, an appeal form is sent to The Department of Education each February/March.
  • The school is required to share PSAK test results with the Department of Education to secure these posts. 
  • The school states how we have addressed the language needs of these pupils. It also outlines how we propose to optimise the opportunities of the pupils for whom additional support is being sought.
  • Education Act 1998 places a statutory obligation on principals and teachers to “regularly evaluate students and periodically report the results of the evaluation to the students and their parents.” Each pupil is entitled to some form of assessment.

Exemption from Testing

The tests should be administered to all pupils unless a learning need or lack of proficiency in English prevents them from doing so.

  • “Pupils may be excluded from the test if in the view of the school principal they have learning or physical disability which would prevent them from attempting the test, or in the case of newcomer pupils, where their level of English is such that attempting such a test would be inappropriate.” (Circular 0138/2006)
  • However any decision to exempt should be taken in consultation with parents. If pupils/parents are adamant about completing these assessments, they may do so with extra aids (dictionaries/ online translators/help from language support teachers)

Programme Planning

Children will receive support within the mainstream class and will also be withdrawn to undertake regular short sessions that build on the class themes, as well as activities designed to develop speaking, listening, reading and writing.

EAL specific themes such as those listed below may also be covered:

  1. Myself
  2. Our school
  3. Food and clothes
  4. Colours, shapes and opposites
  5. People who help us
  6. Weather
  7. Transport and travel
  8. Seasons, holidays and festivals
  9. The local and wider community
  10. Time
  11. People and places in other areas
  12. Animals and plants
  13. Caring for my locality
  • Support plans and programmes of work are devised in consultation with the Class Teacher and parents .
  • Support teachers constantly research the most up-to-date resources available.
  • Resources reflect diversity in culture, language and customs.

Recording and monitoring of pupils’ progress

Circular 0015/2009: All documentation in relation to the administration of tests must be retained by the school for audit/inspection purposes.

  • All completed copies of Primary School Assessment Kit tests and results must be stored in line with GDPR guidelines and school assessment policy.
  • All PSAK results are uploaded onto the school’s computer system Aladdin.
  • Any other assessment results or records regarding language support must be stored securely and copies of these results viewed by the principal.

Success Criteria

We strive to provide our pupils with a wholesome education that values diversity and celebrates achievement. A whole school approach towards teaching and learning is adopted to ensure successful inclusion for all. Each child is valued as an individual with their own set of abilities, goals, motivations and attitudes. We aim to develop these abilities while also providing pupils with the skills they require to become lifelong learners.

This statement can be deemed successful if all EAL children are

  • Integrating work done in the support room and work on curricular areas in the classrooms.
  • Socialising with their peers and within the school community in general
  • Working with a growing degree of confidence.
  • Continuing to use their first language with pride and confidence.
  • Using a range of languages including everyday English (conversational language) and technical and scientific language (academic language).
  • Expressing themselves in both spoken and written English.
  • Using the support of adults within the classroom and in small groups when they need it.
  • Using a range of resources to aid their learning.

EAL pupils can be deemed successfully supported if all members of staff:

  • Have read a copy of this statement.
  • Is aware of the EAL students in each teaching group.
  • Ensure the lessons and materials are accessible to allow for language difficulties by providing additional/ modified resources.
  • Are informed about all courses/classes to aid professional development in this area.

Roles and Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the school’s principal and COS co-ordinator to ensure that EAL pupils are adequately supported in line with these guidelines and the school’s Continuum of Support policy.

References

  • Circular 15/2009 Meeting the need of pupils learning English as an Additional Language, DES.
  • Primary School Assessment Kit, DES, 2007.
  • Up and Away, IILT, 2006.
  • Circular 0138/2006 Supporting Assessment in the Primary School, DES.

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