Last Friday I attended the Literacy Leader’s Conference at EDC. One of the speakers was Jenny Hammond from the University of Technology, Sydney. I found her presentation interesting, inspiring and relevant to our school. She has written a research paper in the most recent ALEA Journal (Vol 35, No 2, 2012) Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, on the same topic.
Her presentation focused on findings from her research exploring language learning of EALD (English as and Additional Language or Dialect) students within the Science curriculum. Although she focused on Year 6 and 7 students you could see the relevance for all levels.
Her main message was to provide a High Challenge/ High Support environment.
The article in this month’s ALEA journal was referred, and I have just finished reading it.
Hope and Challenge in The Australian Curriculum: Implications for EAL Students and their teachers
Jennifer Hammond, University of Technology, Sydney
Some key points made:
* English area specifies the content in terms of language, but other curriculum areas don’t
* the ‘how’ isn’t specified in the Australian Curriculum (our department makes this pretty clear through the TfEL model though)
* curriculum hasn’t been watered down for EALD students, or those with learning disabilities, although differentiation expected
* demands of the new curriculum are high
* high levels of differentiated support expected for EALD students in particular to be successful
* thorough knowledge of the area needed by the teacher to be able to deliver
* EALD students need support to develop language in all curriculum areas not just English, so the specific and technical language of other curriculum areas needs to be explicitly taught, exposed through a wide variety of methods – oral, visual, encouraged conversations, reference material around the room written, pictorial, etc. (This is an aspect I would like to focus on.)
* importance of Vygotsky’s model of Zone of Proximal Development used to scaffold learning
* Language demands of various text types explored and made explicit, as well as the structure and function
Things to do:
* Plan carefully, having a clear picture of the language demands of the topic.
* Use scaffolding, building to independence
* Have a reference point in the classroom
* Criteria for success includes use of technical language