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CATERING FOR EAL LEARNERS IN THE

CLASSROOM

Professional Workshop
Presentation
Bernadette Ratnayake (S00103057)
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WHAT IS AN EAL LEARNER?
According to the Department of Education and Early Childhood
Development, an EAL learner is someone who comes from a
language background other than English.
EAL learners require additional support in learning English as
an additional language (Department of Education and Early
Childhood Development, 2014)

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STUDENTS THAT ARE CLASSIFIED AS EAL LEARNERS ARE
CONSIDERED TO HAVE COME FROM DIVERSE MULTILINGUAL
BACKGROUNDS THAT MAY INCLUDE:
Australian-born or overseas students whose first language is a language other than English.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students whose first language is an Indigenous language, including
traditional languages, or Aboriginal English.
(Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2014)

Many students of EAL background begin their education in the new primary school
environment knowing little or no English at all so it is important to understand that
students who come from an EAL background may have previously experienced many
diverse educational settings.

Students may have:

Limited or no previous education
little or no literacy experience in their first language (L1)
excellent literacy skills in their first language (L1)
had some exposure to written English
have already developed a knowledge of one or more languages or dialects other
than English
Good academic language skills but struggle with the social registers of English.

(Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2014)


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EAL STUDENTS IN AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLS
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When EAL students are placed in Australian schools they are
placed into the year level that is appropriate for their age. As
educators, is important to comprehend that the students
cognitive development and life experiences may not correlate
with their English language proficiency (DEECD, 2014).

In order to personalize learning for EAL students, it is of great
importance that both the student and parent are involved in
the planning and discussions relating to the accommodation
of the EAL learner in the classroom (Modiano, 2001).

SOCIO-CULTURAL KNOWLEDGE
It is important for teachers of EAL students to keep in mind the following:

Generalisations cant be made about EAL students; however there may be certain
common and interrelated sets of needs that distinguish ESL learners from their Anglo-Australian peers
(Northern Territory Government, 2004).

Teachers should try to incorporate the language and interests of the ESL student into
the classroom where possible in order to allow them to express their knowledge of their culture, hence
creating an inclusive and welcoming environment (Reeves, 2009).

As teachers welcome new students who are from an EAL background into the new school
environment it is required that:

they understand that there is great diversity in every culture. We must be sure not to
allow stereotypes to enter into our classrooms.

An example of this is not to generalise that all Chinese students work hard and
are born mathematicians and scientists.

Remember that stereotypes do not reflect the rich diversity and reality of our classrooms (Helmer & Eddy,
2012).

The wide range of students in our classrooms that possess diverse linguistic needs encourages
us as teachers to re-evaluate how we teach them (Helmer & Eddy, 2012).

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Be mindful not to ignore the EAL students current communication habits as they bring with
them a complete communication system which assists them in understanding and developing
English as their additional language (Helmer & Eddy, 2012).

It is important that the classmates of the EAL student assist the classroom teacher in the
creation of an inclusive classroom environment, therefore assisting the new student to feel
welcome and confident (Llurda, 2005).

Some, educational programs are experienced as culturally intrusive and may in turn be
disadvantageous to the preservation of EAL students indigenous identities rooted in the
ancestral culture and language (Jenkins, 2000).

Many ESL programs have been modified as a result of increased awareness of the role which
second-language usage plays in the development of cultural identity (Llurda, 2005).

The intercultural approach to teaching EAL students provides some focus on the learner's
cultural uniqueness in the negotiation of the target language and culture(s), but as the
language is nevertheless 'taught as if it were a first language' (Modiano, 2001).

The needs of ESL students will vary according to factors such as their pre-migration
experiences, including level of formal education in their home country, their age, the
stage of English language development at which they enter the Victorian school
system, and their access to ESL support (Department of Education Victoria, 2007).

SOCIO-CULTURAL KNOWLEDGE (CONT...)
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FIRST LANGUAGE (L1) ACQUISITION
First language acquisition occurs when a learner has been without language for a period in
their life, until they obtain it (Klein, 1986).

One remarkable thing about L1 or first language acquisition is the high degree of similarity
which we see in the early language development of children all over the world (Lightbrown
& Spada, 2008).

At 12 months of age, most babies will have begun to produce a word or two that everyone
recognizes. From this time on, the number of words they understand and produce grows
rapidly. By the age of two, most children reliably produce at least fifty different words and
some produce many more (Lightbrown & Spada, 2008).

The phrase first language acquisition commonly refers to the natural development
of language which takes place in childhood, from birth (Cruz-Ferreira, 2011).

Cruz-Ferreira (2011) describes first language acquisition as learner independent and
unconscious, which is genetically triggered at the most critical stage of the child's cognitive
development (Lindsay, 2010).

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5 STEPS IN THE ACQUISITION OF L1
1. Children instinctively vocalise and are able to recognise sounds which are
similar and differentiate between sounds which are different. They develop
the convention of repeating familiar speech sounds (Ingram, 1989).

2. When a word similar to the childs vocalisation is said such as doll the child
reproduces it with a similar noise da (Ingram, 1989).

3. The use of words within a particular context allows the child to associate the
word with the stimulus, consequently constructing language (Ingram, 1989).

4. At times this language that has been constructed is used out of context,
therefore making it displaced language (Ingram, 1989).

When successful attempts at speech are reinforced, the child will learn to
perfect the language used (Ingram, 1989).
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SECOND LANGUAGE (L2) ACQUISITION
Second Language teaching relates to structured language instruction, that
takes place in school settings, whether in childhood or later on in life (Cruz-
Ferreira, 2011).

The learning of the ESL students native language was most likely learned
through hearing and replicating the words that were used by their parents.
However, learning an additional language is not as easy (Davison, 1990).

Kasuma-Powell and Powell (2000) claimed that the way in which a second
language is acquired is still uncertain, although individual students tend to
show varying patterns, rates and styles of acquisition. Some students may
"take off" and become quickly familiar in their second language, while others
carry on struggling even after prolonged periods of exposure to the target
language (Kasuma-Powell & Powell, 2000).

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SECOND LANGUAGE (L2) ACQUISITION (CONT...)
The syntax (sentence structure) of the L2 is not acquired unconsciously, in the
way L1 syntax is obtained (Klein, 1986).

Second language learning takes place in a distinctive environment which
contains affectionate, encouraging adults who are euphoric at every new word
or phrase the student produces, an environment such as this will lead to
positive language development (Kasuma-Powell & Powell, 2000).

For ongoing development of the English language, students must learn to
communicate with the people around them, and function successfully with
family and peers (Northern Territory Government, 2004).

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EAL TEACHING STRATEGIES FOR EAL
TECHNIQUES

The Department of Education Victoria (2007) highlight
that students who are learning English as a second
language are faced with a very challenging set of tasks.

In many ways EAL learners are required to learn more
and do so quicker than their English speaking peers, as
they need to learn through English while they are still
learning it (Department of Education Victoria, 2007).

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EAL TEACHING STRATEGIES FOR EAL
TECHNIQUES (CONT...)
In order for EAL students to find themselves at the same level as their peers teachers
need to facilitate opportunities for these students to:

Learn to speak English
Learn to read and write English
Continue their learning in all learning areas through English while also still learning English
Learn about the Australian school system.
(Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, 2014)

While it is important for English speaking students to be educated about the culture of
the EAL student, it is also imperative for the EAL students to also learn new cultural
understandings, in both the educational context and in the wider community (Reeves,
2009).

ESL students need optimum teaching and learning conditions in order to build their
English language skills therefore allowing them to integrate into the education system
in Australia (Northern Territory Government, 2004).

As ESL students will spend most of their time in mainstream classrooms, it is vital that
a commitment to ensuring that classroom teachers understand the needs
and can meet the educational requirements of their ESL student (Department
of Education Victoria, 2007).

ACTIVITY 1: OFF TO THE SHOPS
The following activity encourages EAL students to recognise the common items
that they have selected and are used in the students new location. Allowing them
to demonstrate an understanding of the culture of their new school:

In this activity, the classroom is set up as a shop and students are required to
walk around the store gathering the items they would like to purchase (these
may be paper cut outs or physical samples of the items at the store).

When the teacher says STOP or rings a bell or other device may be needed
to attract attention in some cultural and classroom contexts, the students
freeze and call out the name of one product.

All students who have this product in their basket must come to the front of
the shop and demonstrate and discuss in a few words what they might use it
for.
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ACTIVITY 2: MY MESSY HOUSE
This communicative activity allows EAL learners to utilise language in
which the function is asking and replying about the location of certain
items (this activity in particular may focus on common household
items, groceries or items in the classroom):

This activity can be done in pairs
One person has a picture card of their bedroom with about 5
items which they place scattered around the room
Their partner has another blank picture card and the same items
but are required to ask their partner questions such as:
Where is the....?
Is the ... under the....?
Is it next to ...?
This student then places the item on their blank picture card in
the location discovered through their discussion with their partner.
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MY MESSY HOUSE (CONT)
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Any image similar to this one can be used for this activity.

Students must also be provided with the 5 additional items so that
they can cut it out and paste them where they desire so that not
every students is the same.
ACTIVITY 3: TELL ME MORE
This communicative activity in which the function for students is to ask questions in
order to find out information about their classmates and their favourite things. As this
is conducted as a survey it fulfils an opportunity for EAL students to practice writing
English as well as verbally responding in English.

Student A asks student B the following questions to which they respond verbally.
Where were you born?
How old are you?
What suburb do you live in?
What are your hobbies?
What is your favourite food?
What is your favourite sport?
What is your favourite season?
What is your favourite colour?

Student A records the information on the template provided (see slide 21)

This will be repeated three more times

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TELL ME MORE (CONT...)
Name Student A Student B Student C Student D
Where were you
born?
How old are
you?
What suburb do
you live in?
What are your
hobbies?
What is your
favourite food?
What is your
favourite sport?
What is your
favourite
season?
What is your
favourite colour?
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ACTIVITY 4: GUESS WHO?
This communicative game in which the function is to describe people,
provides EAL learners with the opportunity to practice their language skills.
This board game can be played in groups of 2 or 4 (2 people per side)
Students in team A and B select a character from the ones provided.
Students take turns in asking questions such as:
Is it a girl or boy?
Does he/she have ...hair?
Does he/she have a beard?
Is he/she wearing...?

EAL students may be provided with cards containing these structures
phrases on them to act as a prompt.

Students continue to ask questions and describe the appearance of their
character until the selection is narrowed down and the opponent can
make a guess
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ACTIVITY 5: MASTER CHEF CHALLENGE
This communicative activity in which the function is to ask questions in order to
complete a recipe:

Both students have the same recipe for a dish (this might be a recipe from the
EAL learners culture)
Student As recipe contains some images of the ingredients and all steps
Student Bs recipe contains no written ingredients but has pictures and some
steps
Students will endeavour to complete their copy of the recipe by presenting
their partner with structures such as:
What ingredient do I need ___ of?
Could you tell me how many _____I need?
Do you know what I have to add to the ____ ?
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20
BACK
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BACK
ACTIVITY 6: HOW MANY WAYS CAN I SAY IT?
This task assists students in thinking about various ways that a function
can be presented.

Students will complete a function and structure activity as a class.
Students all stand/sit in a circle

The teacher begins by stating a function which may be listed on the
board. Eg. Greeting, express likes/dislikes...

Students go around the circle stating a structure that might address
the selected function.

Once the flow has been broken, the student whose turn it was
chooses another function and then the class continues on stating
structures which express this function 22
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2014). Student Diversity. Retrieved April 2, 2014, from
Australian Curriculum: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/StudentDiversityWho-are-EAL-D-students
Cruz-Ferreira, M. (2011). First language acquisition and teaching. AILA Review, 24(1), 78-87.
Davison, C. (1990). When nature needs some help. TESOL in Context, 1(1), 15-18.
Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. (2014). EAL in Schools. Retrieved April 3, 2014,
from Education.vic.gov.au:
http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/diversity/eal/pages/ealschools.aspx
Department of Education Victoria. (2007). The ESL Handbook. Melbourne, Australia: Multicultural Programs Unit, Learning
Programs Branch, Department of Education.
Helmer, S., & Eddy, C. (2012). Look at Me When I Talk to You. Ontario, Canada: Pippin Publishing Incorporated.
Ingram, D. (1989). First Language Acquisition: Method, Description and Explanation. New York, USA: Cambridge
University Press.
Jenkins, J. (2000). The Phonology of English as an International Language. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

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REFERENCES
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Kasuma-Powell, O., & Powell, W. (2000). Count Me In: Developing Inclusive International Schools. Washington, USA:
Overseas Schools Advisory Council Department of State.
Klein, W. (1986). Second Language Acquisition. New York, USA: Cambridge University Press.
Lightbrown, P. M., & Spada, N. (2008). How Languages are Learned. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Lindsay, S. (2010). A Complementary Systems Account of Word Learning in L1 and L2. Language Learning, 60(2), 45-
63.
Llurda, E. (2005). Non-Native Language Teachers: Perceptions, Challenges and Contributions to the Profession. New
York, USA: Springer.
Modiano, M. (2001). Linguistic Imperialism, EIL, and cultural diversity. ELT Journal, 54(4), 339-346.
Northern Territory Government. (2004). Teaching Resource: English as a Second Language (ESL) FundameNTals.
Retrieved March 31, 2014, from Department of Education:
www.education.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/.../esl_fundamentals.pdf
Reeves, J. (2009). A Sociocultural Perspective on ESOL Teachers Linguistic Knowledge for Teaching. Nebraska, USA:
University of Nebraska.