On the 8th of May, I went to the British Council’s main office, just off Trafalgar Square in central London, to attend their EAL Nexus Seminar.
EAL Nexus is a project that the British Council runs in partnership with the Bell Foundation that recognizes that EAL learners in the UK need to be supported. It essentially has 4 objectives:
- supporting EAL learners
- building capacity in the sector
- developing a website with quality resources
- focusing on engaging parents and communities
The first talk at the seminar reported on the research conducted by the British Council and the Bell Foundation from the Anglia Ruskin University on School approaches to the education of EAL students: Language development, social integration and achievement. This is reported in a fabulous book (written report) that was distributed for free to us at the seminar. Their recommendations include:
- calls for more research to enhance knowledge of how to better the educational achievement and social integration of EAL students
- acknowledging the existence of different languages inside and outside the classroom by developing “language for all” strategies in schools
- emphasizing the importance of English for access to learning and pedagogical context
- locating the responsibility for supporting social integration in all year groups and key stages
- recognizing the multilingual profile of the school which involves validating the bilingualism of EAL students
- developing statistical categories of EAL to offer subdimensions such as level of education prior to arrival in the UK and practices in the home country
- gathering more detailed knowledge about individual students at admissions
- developing clear structures outlining school communication structures regarding EAL to be disseminated to teachers, EAL pupils and their parents
- establishing good practice across the school in relation to management, classroom pedagogic and learning strategies and whole school ethos – and monitoring of such practice
- developing teacher education programmes, which recognize how new languages are learned, providing placements to work with EAL pupils and are long-term training periods rather than just one day or one hour INSETs
Whilst the above all taken from the report itself, the discussion at the seminar obviously touched on these specific recommendations many times. In terms of the EAL Nexus project itself, however, watch this address in the near future: http://eal.britishcouncil.org/ – nothing there yet, but this is the address where you will find the project’s website with resources for EAL learners soon! Obviously, this is very exciting!
One of the speakers at the seminar was Yvonne Foley, who works at the Moray House School of Education at the University of Edinburgh and is also involved with CERES (Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland) – whilst I did not get to speak to her in the short break provided between talks, I am looking forward to meeting her at the Diverse Teachers for Diverse Learners conference in Glasgow in two weeks’ time (http://www.strath.ac.uk/humanities/schoolofeducation/diverseteachers/ ).
The other presentations included examples of how schools successfully include EAL learners – unfortunately, as I was attending the NASSEA’s International New Arrivals Conference on the very next day and needed to catch my train to Manchester, I had to leave as the seminar seemed to be running late. Not happy to have had to miss the rest of it, but I had no choice.
Please have a look at the leaflet for the EAL Nexus Project – if you are an EAL teacher, you have to know about this! If you’re not, frankly, with almost 1:6 students in England learning EAL (according to NALDIC), I think you should know about this too!
I have also, on my way out, picked a leaflet on Connecting Classrooms – free CPD promoting, raising awareness of and providing strategies for global citizenship education and bringing international learning to life in your classroom. This is available both as face-to-face CPD sessions and online CPD. I am already enrolled on the first course with them. You do get certificates for this!
Don’t miss the next seminar at the British Council – most of them can be viewed on YouTube at the time as they provide a live feed of the events. Check the upcoming ones out at: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/seminars