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ESOL Programmes, ESOL Cluster meetings and Emergency procedures, 2 March Primary ESOL Online Weekly Update

Talofa everyone

Thank you to everyone who has participated in the discussions last week and a big welcome to Sharon, Bernadette, Bronwyn, Julie, Nadia, Nicci, Ann, Veronica,  Sally and Wendy who have all joined Primary ESOL Online recently.  

MOE ESOL Funding Applications due today

Please don’t forget that your school’s 2015 Period 1 ESOL funding applications are due at the Ministry today- Monday 2 March 2015 You need to apply using the ELLP scores for listening, speaking, reading and writing.

ESOL Cluster groups

Last week the main discussion was around how to join an ESOL Cluster group and where they are located, meeting times etc. There are groups for both primary and secondary teachers located throughout most of New Zealand and they can be a place of great support. Each cluster generally meets 3 or 4 times a year at the host school. Generally the leader will contact everyone who has joined their cluster and invite them to attend. Most meet after school and a few in more urban areas during school time. Cluster groups are particularly helpful for supporting new ESOL teachers, and for teachers who are feeling isolated, they are a great place to share ideas, ask questions, and to get inspired and informed etc.

The MOE provides the cluster leader’s school with a small budget which the group will determine how best to use. In some cases this is used towards hosting costs e.g. tea, coffee, stationary, photocopying etc. , gifts for guest speakers, reimbursement towards travel costs, subsidising attendance at CLESOL etc.  I highly recommend joining the cluster closest to your school. Everyone is welcome including ESOL teachers, Teachers in charge of ESOL, classroom teachers and teacher aides. Last year there were 36 primary and 24 secondary groups you can read about them and where they are located in this MOE ESOL Update .

If you would like to find the closest group to join or would love to start a group in your local area then the person to contact is: MOE Senior Advisor, Shanley Gamble, phone: 09 632 9357, email: shanley.gamble@minedu.govt.nz .

How do you group your ESOL students and what type of language support do you provide?

This is a question that ESOL Leaders and teachers love to ask as we are all curious about what other schools do. I guess we want to ensure that what we are doing is OK and think about ways we could improve what we currently do.  

Jo is one example as she coordinates ESL learning in a small 6 teacher primary school. They have 8 children who speak 7 different languages across the school.  She would love to read / hear from other teachers in a similar sized school as to what they do. So this week it would be great if we can do just that. Please write about your school and how you organise your ESOL programme and support. Please email primaryesol@lists.tki.org.nz and put “How my school organise s our ESOL Programme” in the subject line rather than just clicking reply to this email.

The MOE advice on this matter is located in the large Green Folder “English for Speakers of Other Languages” particularly chapter 5 in the, ESOL Programmes and Strategies in the Non-English Speaking Background Students A Handbook for Schools booklet,  pages 45-56, which should be in your green folder.

There is no “set” way that we provide ESOL in NZ but lots of sound advice based upon research. The more I interact with other teachers from around the world the more I value the relative freedom we have in NZ to design what works best for our school and for our students. How you provide language support will be determined by the people and resources you have available, the number of students who need support, their age and year level, level of English language attainment, the budget available etc. Each school does need to make decisions about how best to manage all of this this e.g whether they offer in class support or withdrawal programmes, the number of hours provided, whether they employ a specialist teacher or not , the number of students in a group etc .

On page 45 the advice does say “Every ESOL programme should have clearly defined purposes. It should be related to the curriculum and develop skills that can be transferred to relevant learning contexts. “

Here are a few pointers based upon my knowledge and experience but please remember they are just my personal thoughts not what you must do.

1.       Employ the most ESOL skilled staff that you can find – I strongly encourage teachers to get ESOL qualifications especially if they are teaching withdrawal groups or are in charge of ESOL for the school. The MOE offers a generous number of TESSOL - Tuition fees scholarships each year for teachers to upskill. Generally the more knowledge you have the better your support programme will be. It also provides you with the knowledge to be an effective leader. ESOL teachers can provide specialist knowledge and promote effective language-learning approaches. They will understand the language demands of different curriculum areas and be able to scaffold students to success.

Note not all ESOL/TESSOL/TESOL qualifications are equal and some are aimed at teachers in schools as opposed to teaching adults. Some are short courses of a few weeks duration and others take several years to obtain etc. Do your research when employing staff. Also because you speak another language does not automatically make you a great ESOL teacher.

2.       Teacher aides or bilingual teacher aides can be a great support to ELLs particularly within the students’ classrooms.  They should also have the opportunity to be trained.  There are several programmes available e.g. Pasifika Teacher Aide Project , English language Assistants programme, Working with English Language Learners handbook or go to http://www.minedu.govt.nz/NZEducation/EducationPolicies/Schools/EnglishForSpeakersOfOtherLanguages/ProfessionalDevelopment/WorkingWithEnglishLanguageLearners.aspx

This handbook is to be used by teachers in charge of ESOL programmes to provide professional development for teacher aides and bilingual tutors working with English Language Learners.   It is designed to be completed as a professional development programme over two terms, taking approximately two hours per fortnight.  It consists of ten modules for teacher aides to work through, in conjunction, with the teacher in charge of ESOL at their school.

If you would like to know more about either programme and when they are offered in your area then please contact Shanley Gamble (see above for contact details).

3.       Generally the more frequent and targeted the tuition is, the faster the rate of student language acquisition will be. With Intermediate aged students I found there was a noticeable decline in the speed of language acquisition if we delivered fewer than 3 lessons a week.  (We provide 3 x 80 minute sessions a week in withdrawal groups).

4.       Generally the smaller the groups the more focused and individualised the lessons become. This is particularly important at Foundation level.

5.        Students who are working at Foundation level need to focus on basic language acquisition and frequently used language structures , most common vocabulary, orientation to schooling and to life in NZ etc.They require the most support and assistance in terms of time and resources.

6.       For all other language learners their programme should be closely linked with what they are learning in their mainstream classroom. Pre-teaching some vocabulary and the language structures used etc. can also be highly effective before a subject is taught in class.

7.       Ensure a balance between the development of receptive (listening and reading) and productive (speaking and writing) English. Also allow time for fluency practice.

 Emergency procedures and ELLs

I work from home and this morning we had a fire drill which reminded me of the importance of making sure that your ELLs and in particular those who have minimal English literacy and are new at your school understand what to do in an emergency. This may involve the need for translation of core messages, visual support to reinforce the message, and practices to know what to do. Remember that emergency numbers and procedures may vary from country to country. Ask a bilingual person to explain what fire or other emergency drills are. Schools in many countries do not conduct fire or other drills and the noise from the alarm can be very frightening to a new arrival and in particular some refugee students who have arrived from war torn countries. Practice fire drill routines in advance of an actual drill.

Some useful links

http://www.getthru.govt.nz/  Civil Defence where the advice is also  translations into Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Te Reo Maori, Gagana Samoa, Lea Faka-Tonga and Arabic.

http://www.whatstheplanstan.govt.nz/ What’s the Plan

http://busyteacher.org/3812-how-to-drill-drilling-activities-for-your-english.html Busy Teachers suggests some games and activities for drilling these procedures.

http://www.englishlanguage.org.nz/sites/englishlanguage/files/kcfinder/files/ELPNZEmergency%20Fire%202014%20WebsiteSmall.pdfEnglish Language Partners has NZ resources which may be useful with older learners and for parents of ELLs.

Emergency Management Guidance form the MOE http://www.minedu.govt.nz/theMinistry/EmergencyManagement/Preparedness/EmergencyManagementPlan.aspx


Enjoy your week and I look forward to reading about what your school does.

Kind regards