Hampshire EMTAS - Supporting Advanced Bilingual Learners (ABLs)
Who are advanced bilingual learners?
An Ofsted research into writing at KS2 and KS4 shows a mismatch between oral & written fluency:
“Advanced bilingual learners are defined as pupils who have had all or most of their school education in the UK and whose oral proficiency in English is usually indistinguishable from that of pupils with English as a first language but whose writing may still show distinctive features related to their language background.”
Possible prior attainment characteristics of underperforming ABLs
- Just achieving Level 4 at KS2; may struggle to achieve Level 5 by the end of KS3 (thus unlikely to achieve 5+ A*–C including mathematics and English at KS4)
- Achieving Level 4+ in mathematics and science but not in English at KS2; able pupils who may struggle with language demands of secondary curriculum
- Attaining Level 5 at the end of KS2 but making little or no progress by the end of KS3
Late arrivals whose KS2 results were depressed by a lack of experience in English but make rapid progress (often securely literate in first language)
Why focus on this group?
New arrivals only form 5 to 10% of the EAL population of England. The remaining 90–95% are far more likely than the new arrivals to be able to achieve the benchmarks of level 5+ at Key Stage 3 and 5 A*–C grades (including English and mathematics) at Key Stage 4.
The comparison of achievement at KS4 shows a discrepancy between learners with EAL and their monolingual peers:
Typical mistakes in ABLs writing:
- knowledge of genre
- poor paragraphing
- lack of detail/inability to express ideas clearly
- incorrect usage at word & phrase level
- lack of range of vocabulary
- punctuation errors
- subject-verb agreement
The following strategies enable advanced bilingual learners to improve their use of subject specific vocabulary as well as formal academic language required to achieve tasks successfully. Planning in these activities also improves the attainment of all monolingual students, especially boys.
Provide opportunities to hear and orally rehearse language:
- Dictogloss, bridging talk and text. An activity out of Ensuring the attainment of more advanced learners of English as an additional language from the National strategy. This is one of our LinC’s students favourites!
- Focus on target vocabulary/phrases
- Discussing answers with an articulate partner before the teacher chooses volunteers. See comments from a Basingstoke school’s students regarding this strategy.
- And many more. For more inspiring and exciting ways to support the learning of advanced bilingual learners and for help with planning, please contact EMTAS.
“The glossary helped me because I could use the words in my work and I could understand more.”
“It is written clearly so we can understand.”
On lists of vocabulary provided ahead of every lesson:
“It helped because then I knew what the words meant.”
“It helps me prepare for the next lesson.”
“If I don’t understand something then I can use that so that I can understand it.”
“If I know the words then I would understand the whole sentence.”
“As it will be in the keywords it helps us to see the words are important.”
On working in pairs or groups with articulate students to discuss the work and questions asked by the teacher:
“If we don’t know the meaning then they can help us understand.”
“It helps us learn the difficult words.”
“We can share ideas and come to a conclusion.”
“We both know what to say when we get picked.”
“We can learn from each other.”
“We learn more things from listening to each other and if I don’t understand it’s better to ask a friend.”
The National Strategies, secondary: Ensuring the attainment of more advanced learners of English as an additional language (free to download)