Induction for newly arrived pupils
New arrivals from their country of origin and beginner bilingual learners need lots of focused support to:
engage with learning activities in English
become confident and secure in new linguistic, cultural and educational surroundings
EMTAS can some limited support for new arrivals but pupils are best supported when:
class/subject teachers provide appropriate in-class support and induction
school admissions procedures and policy take account of early profiling and placement issues.
Most schools already have excellent induction programmes for pupils who are new to the school, however, it may be useful to reflect upon the needs of bilingual learners who may require some adaptations of these procedures.
A good language role model can be used to accompany the pupil for several weeks. Based in the same tutor group or class the buddy acts in the role of a mentor and feeds back to the teacher/tutor.
Placing a new pupil in the most suitable classes and year group will require care. Probably this is best achieved through discussion involving a number of staff and advisors with the recognition that the decisions taken will need to be reviewed regularly in the light of the school's growing understanding of the student's educational background, abilities and ambitions.
Generally bilingual learners should be placed in chronologically appropriate year groups. Placement in low ability or special educational needs groupings is not helpful. Although there may be smaller groups with more classroom support in the lower sets this is NOT necessarily a suitable placement for a literate bilingual learner. Ideally the pupil needs groups that provide GOOD language role models. This enables the pupil to learn English more quickly and more accurately. Bilingual learners need access to strong English language and social models.
Carefully consider physical placement so that the pupil has clear, direct access to all available classroom cues to meaning, e.g.: blackboard, teacher, and peer actions. Towards (but not at) the front of the class, in the centre, is usually very supportive.
The silent period
Bilingual learners do tend to acquire conversational English quickly but some pupils take a long time before they feel confident enough to participate actively in classroom activities and use the English they have learned. A 'silent period' is natural and should not be construed as the child having learning difficulties. Lack of progress may be due to the abstract nature of tasks rather than underlying learning difficulties.