Thursday, October 28, 2010

Empowering Parents

In all schools, but especially those without Mother Tongue teachers, parents have to be used as a resource and welcomed into the classroom if we are to truly embrace a culture promoting multilingualism. 
There are many examples of how this is already happening in our Primary School:

  •  Parents in K2 took turns to share nursery rhymes from around the world with the children in the classroom as part of their Nursery Rhyme curriculum.
  •  Parents in K1 helped their children to find toys typical from around the world to create a central display.
  • Parents in Y1 and Y3 came in to share stories in different languages as part of a story topic.
  • Parents in Y3 came in to run a Golden Time activity based on fun activities from around the world.

    These are small steps along a path of greater involvement.

    Our next step is finding parents willing to become Parent Language representatives for the school.  The first job for the representative is to host a Language Coffee Morning organised by the school to bring together families with the same language.  From here we hope to get a contact list of interested families and find ways the families can help each other and work with the school to support their children in maintaining their Home Languages. We have our first two coffee mornings coming up next week…

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Advantages of Bilingualism reported by the BBC

    Increased ability to multitask and slowing down Alzheimer's are accredited here to bilingualism.


    EAL Myth or Truth?

    Patana Teachers Conference
    Working with our Secondary Home Language coordinator we presented an EAL Myth or Truth? session during a recent professional day at school. Myth or Truth is a great sorting activity for children and staff and certainly creates discussion. Our messages were simple; importance of supporting Mother Tongue, maintaining expectations for all learners, distinguishing BICS and CALPS and the need for all teachers to support additive bilingualism.

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    A message from Stephen Krashen

    I have joined with several highly respected colleagues who have formed
    a company called DiversityLearningK12. The company will offer services
    in a number of areas, including:

     Second-language acquisition
     Bilingual teaching methods
     ELL program design
     Sheltered instruction
     Literacy and biliteracy
     Constructivist pedagogy
     Multicultural education
     Language proficiency and disability
     Parent involvement
     Media outreach
     Education policy

    DiversityLearningK12 will offer Consulting, Keynotes, Professional
    Development, and Media Training.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    Creating an Interlingual Classroom

    Must. Should. Could.

    We are currently looking at the practicalities of providing Home Language support in curriculum time during the school day and in our after-school programme. Alongside this we are searching for ways to support all teachers in becoming teachers of language and incorporating easily managed strategies into the everyday activities in the classroom.

    To this end we are working on this MUST.SHOULD.COULD. document of what must, should and could be done in the classroom.

    Would be interested in any feedback you have on this and how it relates to initiatives at your school.

    Creating an Interlingual Classroom
    Allow children to use their home languages in the classroom.
    Familiarise yourself at the start of each term with the language profile of all the children in your care.
    Find out and use the correct pronunciation of the children’s names
    Always talk in positive terms about language and culture.
    Welcome the children’s language into the classroom and be open to learning from both the students and their families
    Where possible place new students into classes with language buddies
    Practice good EAL strategies in the classroom to allow all children equal access to the curriculum
    Work from strengths. Build on what students already know. Draw on their background experiences and encourage connections between academic concepts and students' own lives. Help students see the value of being able to communicate in multiple languages.
    Show multilingual and multicultural displays and signage in the year group
    Use multilingual and multicultural resources in the classroom
    Support EAL staff with multilingual focused activities
    Use of bilingual teaching assistants
    Reinforce the message to parents of maintaining their mother tongue
    For children new to English learn a few words/phrases in their home language.
    Where possible provide bilingual support for children new to English – 1-2-1, class peers or across year groups
    Give students opportunities to teach others about their first language and home culture.
    Allow children to work with same language partners’ to discuss a problem and clarify an answer before transferring to English
    Encourage families to find books, songs, poems and rhymes in their own languages related to your classroom theme and invite them into to share with the whole class.
    Actively seek out opportunities in the curriculum to celebrate similarities and differences in a variety of cultures and languages.  A coordinated approach so different focus in different year groups.
    Guide students to check out native language books during your regularly scheduled library time.
    Encourage families to complete ROAs in home language
    Put multilingual links on class blogs

    Allow children to mind map in their home language
    Invite children to produce dual language assignments
    Allow children to work together on multilingual translations
    Link up with language buddies in other classes/years/schools/countries
    Put on plays in different languages
    Display translations of students’ favourite stories and work
    Have a classroom library made up of books in different languages
    Have resource books and bilingual dictionaries in the classroom
    Celebrate World Language day February 21


    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    Dear All,
    If term has not started for you yet then I am sure it will be soon. Our term started on Wednesday and as always it is lovely to welcome new children and see lots of familiar faces from the year before.

    Last week we had an induction programme for the new staff and I took a 30-minute slot to talk too them about the implications for language of working in an Internationally –Minded International School. I used this clip from Ethine Gallagher to illustrate my point.
    The clip proved very powerful and popular so we showed it again to the whole staff on Monday morning too.

    I have also had a pile of books in different languages delivered to add to our school library. I have asked all the class teachers to actively promote this with their classes on their first trip to the library. To highlight this section I worked with our library staff to put up an interactive display outside the library, which includes copies of the books and general questions about language.

    Part of my new role this year includes managing the Primary after-school language activities and I have been meeting with some of the providers o discuss their programmes and put this info. on the school database ready for parents next week. This is one are that needs a lot of work.

    In my own year group the class teachers have been asking the children about their home languages and we sent home a sheet asking parents t o help the children write ‘welcome’ and ‘hello’ in their home languages so they can copy these ready for a display to put up before our Parent Briefing Meeting next week. Year 5 are also starting “ A Language a Week’ using this website as inspiration.

    Well that is what my first few days have looked like in terms of my position of responsibility, the rest of the time has been filled with teaching and getting to know the EAL children I am going to be working with .

    It would be great to hear and share how others have started their terms.

    Enjoy the weeks ahead.


    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Promoting Home Languages in Schools

    This is a very powerful resource for convincing others of the importance of Home Languages in schools. A must-view for all staff.

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    The School Library

    With our new Language Policy written our school is now looking to how the words in the policy can be turned into practical actions impacting positively on the daily life of our school community.
    Our Primary Library is situated at a major crossroad in our school and an ideal place to access children, staff and parents alike.

    Steps so far:

    * A large selection of books linked to raising multilingual children and general EAL pedagogy
    * School subscription to Bilingual Family Newsletter
    * An increasing selection of bilingual books.  (Click here for a supplier we have successfully used)

    But although we have invested in these resources they are not currently used as much as we would like.

    So steps for the future:

    * To continue to build up our stock of bilingual books but also to add good quality DVDs in a range of languages.
    * To add multilingual displays and posters to the library
    * Lunchtime book reading by parents in their mother tongue
    * Providing INSET and material in a variety of languages for parents on good reading practice
    * Promoting all of the above in the school community!!!!

    If you have any other ways you are using your school library to promote Home Languages please send them in to share.

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    Research Study - Request for help!

    Niki is Deputy Head of Academics at the United World College, Maastricht Primary School and is currently conducting a research study to identify current practice in the area of Mother Tongue in International Primary Education and to highlight the underpinning philosophy and reasoning for implementing Mother Tongue initiatives in these schools.

    Niki is particularly interested to find out more about mother tongue policies in international primary schools to help her study.

    "I would greatly appreciate it if the group could forward anything of relevance to me please?!" 

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    Co-Teaching Strategies

    Recently Dr. V Rojas spent a week at our school working with parents, children and staff. One aspect of her work with us we are looking to explore next term is co-teaching strategies.
    Jennifer Kightley at the Ambrit International School in Rome has already spent time with her EAL team and class teachers exploring these strategies. Have a look at their blog for articles and resources to support some INSET in your school on co-teaching strategies.

    Thank-you to Jennifer for sharing her blog.

    Sunday, March 28, 2010

    Book Review

    Equal Rights to the Curriculum: Many Languages, One Message

    by Eithne Gallagher

     I loved everything about this book; an easy read with up-to-date relevant messages about issues in an International School. It includes ideas about actively promoting bilingualism as well as supporting EAL learners. I just wish I could convince everyone in my school to read it as there are constant references throughout the book about how bilingualism should be seen as a resource not a problem. It certainly made me look again with a different perspective at the children I work with and I am one of the converted.

    Book review by Jane (Bangkok Patana School, Thailand) 

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