Extending EAL to Home
With students joining every year from around the world, Yew Chung International School of Beijing understands the importance of EAL (English Additional Language) support in class. Throughout the school, we implement a “push in” approach to EAL – meaning students with limited English language can access the full curriculum by staying in most mainstream classes, with support from EAL specialists. Teachers also receive training on EAL techniques in the classroom.
However, EAL learning should not end at school. There are many ways in which parents at home can assist.
On Monday our Primary EAL specialists, Marlena Hawkins, Conni Wong, Anthea Waters and Erica Peele, put on an EAL workshop for parents. The workshop gave parents an overview of the EAL programme at school, and equipped them for helping their child’s language development at home.
Please introduce the sessions that took place on Monday.
There were four key sessions. Marlena began the workshop by speaking to parents in Russian and used some EAL techniques to help the parents understand. This immersive experience was designed to help parents empathise with how it feels to be an EAL student entering an English classroom for the first time.
Conni discussed the importance of working on native language at home. If your child’s mother tongue is improving at home, it will aid their understanding of a second language at school. Anthea introduced the principles of phonics and blending sounds, and Erica discussed apps and resources that parents can use at home.
What do you hope parents took away from the workshop?
We hope that parents feel reassured that learning a new language takes time, it won’t happen overnight. We also want them to feel that they can approach the EAL team and work with us to form a partnership between home and school, reinforced by the resources and techniques we introduced them to today.
What are some of the ways that parents can help at home?
Reading books with children is very important. Read with them, and then ask them questions about the story to test their comprehension. If you do not speak English, this is still a valuable exercise in your mother tongue.
Introduce your children to different types of writing – not just story books but recipes, menus and street signs. Following recipes at home is a great way to read together, and will help reinforce tasks at school where we bake together or write our own recipes. You can also engage your children in writing activities, such as asking them to help you write your shopping list in English.
How does the Learning Community model assist with our EAL programme?
The Learning Community model allows us to group children flexibly. For some tasks, this might mean that EAL students are put together and supported by a specialist. For other tasks, we mix EAL students with more proficient or native speakers for peer learning.
The Learning Community allows us to collaborate with one another and other teachers, constantly adapting our lesson planning and teaching approaches to suit the needs of the children in that class. It also exposes children to different teachers, so they can benefit from interacting with several adults rather than just one.
Ultimately, it is a inclusive model for students and teachers alike. It encourages collaboration and flexibility, which are highly beneficial for language acquisition.