Strategies for new arrivals
Suggestions to create a positive environment
The impressions that parents and children receive, on their first visit to school are also obviously important. Families from other ethnic groups or languages will feel welcomed by an environment which recognises the value of cultural and linguistic diversity. Strategies to employ could include:
Welcome notices entrance, labels on doors etc. in range of appropriate languages.
Copies of official booklets, publications, school booklet etc. in other languages.
Displays around school with captions in English and other languages.
Pictures and displays including other cultures and races.
School library including dual language books and tapes, stories and poems from other cultures, stories and poems reflecting multi-cultural Britain.
Resources for all areas of the curriculum reflecting a range of cultures. Ensure the curriculum and resources positively reflect experiences and reject racist stereotypes.
Recognition and celebration of festivals from other cultures, particularly those appropriate to the children in school
Arrange to meet parents, to gather information about child, explain about school routines etc. (try to find someone who can act as interpreter if necessary). Check whether there are any activities that are unacceptable because of religion or culture and ensure that all staff are aware. Explain about possible Hampshire EMA Service involvement, if appropriate. e.g. use of bilingual assistant.
Check whether parents will be able to read and understand letters and information sent from school (if not, what arrangements will be made?)
Aide-memoire of support strategies for all years
NB Some of these strategies may already be being used.
Additional visual support:
to enable pupil to focus on meanings when s/he is listening to stories, explanations and instructions
objects, pictures, diagrams, non-verbal gestures or peer actions as appropriate
a pictorial 'job-list' with consistent use of symbols to give her/him independence in what s/he would be doing
Additional verbal support with:
repetition of key words
choice questions, for example, 'do you have History or Geography?'
clear jargon-free instructions and explanations
natural language models
Bilingual pupils need clear direct access to all available classroom cues to meaning e.g. the black/white board, teacher's facial expression, peer actions etc
Towards but not at the front is very supportive
This needs very careful consideration. S/he needs access to good English language peer models of at least average ability.
Whenever possible, provide opportunities for her to participate in small group collaborative activities, where talk and interaction are CENTRAL to the learning going on.
Allow pupil ample opportunities to rehearse and practise new language items especially topic/subject specific vocabulary before being asked to respond, e.g. being positioned last in turn-taking activities.
Make sure that curriculum support materials really are accessible - e.g. the layout should be familiar, visual clues should indicate the type of response required (matching, drawing, cutting, sticking, sequencing, labelling etc).
Whenever possible focused adult support should take place in group contexts so that s/he has access to natural peer interaction in English. 1:1 support is generally less helpful.
S/he needs plenty of opportunities to experience book-sharing in meaningful contexts with good use made of the pictures so that she is able to relate them to the text and with simple directed activities related to texts (DARTS), especially involving picture sequencing and prediction skills.
If a story is told rather than read with picture support s/he needs a chance to discuss the pictures beforehand so that s/he can cue into the language of the story. NB phonic analysis and learning to 'read' decontextualised words will not be appropriate until she has a clear idea of the meanings.
Teacher scribing will support the development of oral and written work.
Beware of putting pressure on her/him to respond verbally too soon. A 'silent-phase' is a normal stage in second language acquisition and may last for up to a year. Provide opportunities for pupils to operate non-verbally in practical activities.
Beware of discontinuing support when s/he has gained fluency in 'everyday' English. Topic/subject specific English can take up to 7 years to acquire.
When embarking on a new topic check whether s/he is familiar with the key vocabulary and teach her/him items which are unfamiliar.
When teaching new vocabulary teach a few words at time, in a variety of ways using contexts and structures which are familiar.
When teaching a new concept ensure that the language you are going to use is familiar first.
If you are teaching a new language structure use known concepts and vocabulary.
Promoting language development
Taken from an article called 'Perspectives on Language and Learning' by Silvaine Wiles:
'Language development flourishes in a classroom where pupils feel their languages and cultures are encouraged and valued. Research has shown that the more you take children out of mainstream classes for special help with English the less progress they are likely to make. Separating children from their peers is socially and culturally divisive, accentuating feelings of separateness and difference in the bilingual child. It is essential that children feel part of mainstream school from the very beginning, taking part in its routines and rituals and having access to the full range of activities available.'
Key factors affecting second language development
Children's second language skills develop well when:
bilingual skills are valued and the first language is used as a tool for learning.
they are motivated by the need to communicate and have opportunities to use language (listening, talking, reading and writing) for real purposes e.g. finding out and sharing information, describing, instructing.
Normal classroom opportunities provide a ready made context for purposeful language learning. Children have opportunities to model the second language used by peers in small group collaborative activities, where talk and interaction are central to the learning going on. They are offered 'comprehensible input' and they can get clues about the meaning in English through carefully contextualised and structured activities.