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Supporting diverse communities and their bilingual children

Hi everyone

ANZAC was very special this year I hope that you caught some of the vibe and enjoyed the extra day off work.  

Our Community

Welcome to Peta and Nevis who recently joined our primary ESOL community.

A big thank you to Barbara for sharing the ANZAC crowd sourced presentation. Also thank you to everyone who wrote to say thank you for the shared resource.

My apologies to anyone whose email I didn't release to the community I was just trying to stop your in-boxes from becoming too full. However your thoughts were very much appreciated.

Supporting diverse communities and their bilingual children

I have been thinking a bit more about supporting the development our students’ first languages and cultures whilst being immersed in mainstream classrooms recently. For many of us I think we understand this in principle but in practice how well do we do this?  At a system level there has been a greater focus on diversity and many schools have made good progress in tackling this focus area particularly in relation to Māori and Pasifika. How well are we extending this idea across all cultures in our schools?

I attended a conference recently where I heard the voices of many diverse community leaders and their cry was that they need help, if their children are to become bilingually literate and to have a strong sense of who they are. They understand that there are benefits to be gained from being bilingual but they are struggling to achieve that for their children who are immersed in English speaking classrooms.

 Many diverse communities have first language schools, (usually held on the weekends or after school) but these are run on minimal funding and taught by volunteer teachers many of whom have limited teacher training. Their cry really was for support and what they were asking for was often very minimal. For example, to have access to their local school for a teaching space so they didn’t need to pay so much rent. Or for their teachers to have a teacher mentor or to be included in professional learning opportunities so their teachers could grow in their knowledge of how to teach. They would like teachers to encourage students to maintain their first language and support them to use their first language in the classroom and at home.

I think there are many ways we can go further than just having a few words of welcome in other languages on our walls, a cultural festival, some cultural items on display and a few books written in their first language etc.  

My questions are:

1.       Have we explored whether there are any opportunities to forge closer relationships with our community language schools?

2.       How can we as a school/teachers support our community language schools?

3.       As a mainstream classroom teacher how can I foster the students use and development of their first language both at home and in the classroom?

4.       As a teacher and as a school how can we help parents from diverse communities to integrate into our school community?

Related to this idea I read this article today Cultivating Cultural Assets: An After-School Story by Clare Roach, posted APRIL 27, 2015 on Edutopia, Clare writes  about the difference one teacher made by inviting one parent to share her knowledge of origami in an after school club. It is a story of empowerment which enriched both the parents and the school and as a result the students. She also suggests some strategies to consider.

Of course there are many New Zealand schools with similar stories which you can read about. You will find some on:

·         http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/Principles/Community-engagement

·         http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/Curriculum-stories/School-snapshots;

·          http://www.edtalks.org/;  

Don’t forget an oldie but goodie, Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES) Author(s): Adrienne Alton-Lee Date Published: June 2003

Also the diversity readings and Community Engagement readings on esolonline

Other News

The Schools International Education Business Association of New Zealand (SIEBA), established by international education providers from the school sector. SIEBA was formed to provide stronger representation for New Zealand schools operating in the international education sector. SIEBA’s purpose is to Lead, Connect and Grow schools’ international education business. You can find out more from their websitehttp://www.sieba.nz/ .  SIEBA membership is open to all schools, regardless of their level of involvement in international education, and promises to be a great source of information, support and resources to schools across the spectrum. Schools can join SIEBA via the website  and those with membership applications accepted by 22 Maywill be eligible to nominate candidates for the board. Voting for the board will take place at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 23 June and schools whose membership has been accepted by 5 June will be eligible to vote.

 See also this Education Gazette article SIEBA: bringing together international education providers

Other Communities

There have been several worthwhile posts and discussions in some of our other communities lately.

 Secondary ESOL


·         World War One resources now easier to find on ManyAnswers

·         Sue bridges wrote about Literacy Practices when Co-teaching in her latest weekly update. She raises some very interesting question. I also wonder how new learners of English are coping in modern learning environments. If you teach in this environment I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Secondary Literacy Online 

·         Discussed the power of 'Not yet' and helping students to see current grades as part of the path to achieving at higher levels.

·         A  guest post from Joshua Iosefo on the origins of Brown Brother 

 English Online 

·         TESOLANZ president Hilary Smith has initiated a discussion on the writing process - what are we really teaching through writing assessment?


·         New Entrants in a Year 1-4 MLE  I have enjoyed the sharing in this discussion. I would also like to hear how it works for new ELLs?

·         Claire Amos shared an article she wrote for Interface Magazine on her thinking around ICTs and e-learning at Hobsonville Point Secondary School with the Resourcing how and why of e-Learning | NAPP Kōrero 6 2015. Just scroll down the page to find her contribution.

We would love to hear your thoughts, views and questions just send them to primaryesollists.tki.org.nz.

Have a fantastic week