English as a an additional language (EAL) learners

Graduating Teacher Standard 1d:

have content and pedagogical content knowledge for supporting English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners to succeed in the curriculum.

School is tough, it must be even tougher if English is your second language. So, here are some things I can do as a teacher to support EAL learners:

1. Learn to pronounce their names – Te whakahua ingoa

To pronounce one’s name correctly is to show them respect. Even if it is the hardest, most complicated name, students will always appreciate if you learn how to say it right. Everyday New Zealand is becoming more and more multicultural, it is impossible to find a school with only Pākehā students with names like Sarah, John, and Michael. Because of this, it is my job as a teacher to learn the names of the students, not just what they are, but how to say them.

2. Let students write in their native language

When students are writing their own notes that I don’t need to read, I let them write in whatever language they want. Students can even write drafts in their own language as long as they provide a translation for me in order to receive feedback and feedforward. Allowing students to do this enables them to have more detailed notes (as they know a lot more words in their own language), and they will write better if their draft is in their own language.

3. Be patient

For three months I lived and worked at an orphanage in Peru. When I was there it was easier to say something in Spanish if there was no pressure. Once there was pressure, the knowledge that I needed to hurry up, then my mind would blank and no one would understand me. The same goes for EAL learners, when they have something to say, show that you have the time to listen, if you demonstrate this as a teacher, other students will be patient with EAL learners too.

4. Find out what they are interested in and what is easier for them, and design activities around that

This may be as simple as providing them with a graphic novel version of the text you are studying to help them understand it, or allowing them to write in class essays on laptops. Ask them what works for them and then do it.

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