As an international learning community, we believe that EAL (English as an Additional Language) support is one of the features to ensure an inclusive environment for students from different backgrounds. How is Canadian Academy supporting our EAL students? Ms. Mayhew, the EAL coordinator, answers frequently asked questions about our EAL support in the elementary school.
Q. What does the EAL support look like?
A. At Canadian Academy, the EAL support is provided in-class, not pull-out. We know that students learn languages most effectively in a real-life context, from interactions with their teachers and peers. The EAL support takes place every day, mainly during Unit of Inquiry, writer’s workshop, and reader’s workshop.
The picture below is from a grade 3 classroom. The grade 3 students are currently learning about conflict and peace in Unit of Inquiry. Everybody in the class learns together, sharing and learning from each other’s ideas and experiences. They have two teachers in the classroom: the class teacher and the EAL teacher. Having two teachers in the classroom provides more opportunities for small group and one-to-one learning that increases student engagement and understanding. EAL teachers are involved in the whole cycle of co-teaching: they plan, teach, assess, and reflect together with class teachers.
EAL teachers use a range of tools and strategies to make the content accessible. One of the most popular and powerful tools is visual prompts, such as vocabulary picture cards and graphic organizers. These materials are useful for language learners, but also benefit all learners.
Q. How important is home language?
A. We often incorporate students’ home languages in lessons because it helps students with conceptual understanding. Please look at the posters below. These are the vocabulary posters that grade 2 students created. They discussed rights and responsibilities in Unit of Inquiry, and translated keywords into their own languages.
Some people might think that the use of home languages only benefits EAL students. However, it often brings cultural and linguistic diversity to the whole class and eventually inspires all learners to understand what it means to be an inclusive learning community.
Q. How do you monitor students’ progress?
A. In addition to the vast number of classroom data, we have recently implemented an English language proficiency assessment called WIDA MODEL. It is an internationally recognized assessment tool for measuring language development widely used amongst international schools worldwide.
The students’ language development is closely monitored and shared with their families through parent-teacher conferences and the school report.
If you would like to learn more, please join our EAL parent workshop next month. More details will follow shortly. And if you have any questions regarding EAL support, please do not hesitate to reach out. Our experienced EAL team is here to help you.