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Children from backgrounds with different mother tongues, other than English are considered as having English as an Additional Language. Consideration should be given that those children with EAL only access the English language when they are within school environments, and could require different types of support such that they are well able to communicate with their peers, follow classroom teachings, and further access curriculum (Abikar and Mirioglu, 2019). I encountered a learner who was extremely good in mathematics but whose English was poor. This opened up my eyes to the fact that the fluency of EAL pupils in writing, reading, and speaking English was not necessarily a reflection of their cognitive abilities. The time EAL learners spent in school is extremely important for development of their language capabilities (Leung, 2010). That points to the need of their learning environments being language rich and inclusive, as this would go a long way in facilitating their educational, emotional, and social development.
There are different challenges commonly faced by EAL learners, as they have to develop academic and colloquial English, have to overcome the cultural aspects of schooling, and have to develop the necessary knowledge, understanding, and skills of a specific curriculum (Phakiti and Li, 2011). I decided to use oral language interventions on the student to help them improve their English. Through these, emphasis was placed on the importance verbal interaction within the classroom, and spoken language. These interventions are based on the ideas that explicit discussions of learning content and processes are beneficial for reading, and comprehension skills. Different studies report on the effectiveness of oral language interventions, with those students who take part in the interventions making significant language development progress with time. It is important to always differentiate those students who come from bilingual backgrounds with EAL learners, as these two have entirely different circumstances. EAL refers to those pupils who go about learning English as an additional language, adding the language to their existing repertoire. Bilingualism, on the other hand, refers to those pupils who have dual nationalities, and have access to more than one language when in school and in their homes (Madiba, 2010). Differentiating between these two is important for practitioners is important as the paths they are to take are different, and also require different types of support.
I have to confess that I had never before had to plan for a learner with this kind of need as in this case. I applied my knowledge however, and was mindful to ensure that at no point did the learner feel like they were doing separate tasks from others as that would have led them to missing out on hearing, and learning from peers through the English language. As such I endeavored to plan scaffolds for the learner which facilitated their special involvement in the different tasks of the oral learning intervention program. From time to time, I was nervous as to whether the learners would eventually be able to complete the same tasks as his peers completed even if they were scaffolded, for instance, filling out diary entries. Classroom environments provide learners with spaces where they can flourish, and there is always the need of ensuring that the environments are safe as this would go a long way in aiding, and promoting their language development (Dell et al. 2011). Teachers are the best resources present for learners that can support them. Language is heard and developed through constant modelling and reinforcement, and having strong support networks within schools aids their language development.
Generally, the oral learning intervention program had positive effects on the learner, and his English proficiency, in relation to speaking, writing, and construction of sentences, improved significantly. In the future, if faced by a similar situation, I would still ensure that I differentiated the learning materials of learners facing problems. That will go a long way in ensuring that the students facing problems still remain involved in the class lesson instead of completing entirely different tasks. As observed, one of the benefits of this is that these learners get to benefit from their peers who are able to speak English well.
When using oral learning interventions, it is always important for teachers to give consideration to different factors including, how they can help students to turn their learning explicit through verbal expression, how to match the different activities of oral language to the current language development stage of the learner, such that it extends their learning, and further facilitates their connection with the curriculum (Conderman and Strobel, 2008). Another factor that should be considered in the event technologies are being used, is how the technologies would ensure that students effectively interact with one another, and talk about their learning.
In the future, I will incorporate visual teaching aids to encourage language development and learning, and to further make it more motivating, and easier. Visual aids are recognized as providing different explanation forms and additionally providing students information that they would have found challenging to understand, had it been presented in any other spoken or written form (Al Mamun, 2014). These visual aids will be used concurrently with the oral language intervention program and would include such items as models, pictures, charts, maps, slides, videos, and even real objects. From time to time, learners face challenges in processing auditory information, and this makes language instruction supported by visual cues more beneficial. When visual aids like anchor charts are used, they provide assistance to EAL pupils for instance when there are specific words they are not sure about.
ABIKAR, S. and MİRİOGLU, M., 2019. Reflecting on the English as Additional Language (EAL) Learning Process of Two Refugee Pupils in the Context of the UK and Turkey: Teachers’ Perspectives. International Journal of Education, Training and Learning, 3(1), pp.1-7.
Al Mamun, M., 2014. Effectiveness of audio-visual aids in language teaching in tertiary level (Doctoral dissertation, BRAC University).
Conderman, G. and Strobel, D., 2008. Fluency flyers club: An oral reading fluency intervention program. Preventing school failure: Alternative education for children and youth, 53(1), pp.15-20.
Dell, C.A., Chalmers, D., Bresette, N., Swain, S., Rankin, D. and Hopkins, C., 2011, August. A healing space: The experiences of first nations and Inuit youth with equine-assisted learning (EAL). In Child & Youth Care Forum (Vol. 40, No. 4, pp. 319-336). Springer US.
Leung, C., 2010. English as an additional language: Learning and participating in mainstream classrooms. In Conceptualising ‘learning’in applied linguistics (pp. 182-205). Palgrave Macmillan, London.
Madiba, M., 2010. Fast-tracking concept learning to English as an additional language (EAL) students through corpus-based multilingual glossaries.
Phakiti, A. and Li, L., 2011. General academic difficulties and reading and writing difficulties among Asian ESL postgraduate students in TESOL at an Australian university. RELC Journal, 42(3), pp.227-264.
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