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What type of English language support do you provide for ELLs?

The MOE advice on this matter is located in English for Speakers of Other Languages” particularly in the Non-English Speaking Background Students: A Handbook for  Schools booklet, Chapter 5, ESOL Programmes and Strategies on pages 45-56.

The type of language support you are able to provide will be determined by a number of different factors which may include: having qualified staff available; the number of ELLs; their age and year level; their English language stage; budget available; size of your school; timetabling issues etc. Each school will need to make their own decisions about how best to manage all of this these e.g. whether to provide in class support or withdrawal programmes, the number of hours provided, whether to 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:

  • Employ the most skilled teachers that are available – In tier 3 support programmes it is recommended that schools use their most skilled teachers to teach the programme to students. This should also include the teaching of English language learners (ELLs). Ideally the registered teacher will also hold an appropriate ESOL qualification. For teachers who do not currently have an ESOL qualification the MOE offers TESSOL - Tuition fees  scholarships. They are also available to classroom teachers. Generally the more knowledge you have, the better your support programme will be. ESOL teachers provide specialist language acquisition 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 and work with classroom teachers to support ELLs.
  • Teacher aides or bilingual teacher aides can be a great support to ELLs particularly within a student’s classroom. Types of teacher aide training available include the  Pasifika Teacher Aide Project, and  Working with English Language Learners handbook a handbook 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.
  • The more frequent and targeted the tuition, the faster the rate of student language acquisition. 
  • Generally the smaller the groups and the more focused and individualised the lessons become the faster the rate of language acquisition will be. This is particularly important at Foundation level. However the groups need to be large enough to enable a collaborative, task-based learning approach.
  • Students who are working at Foundation level need to focus on basic language acquisition and frequently used language structures, most common vocabulary, and orientation to schooling and to life in NZ.  Foundation level students require the most support and assistance in terms of time and resources.
  • The ESOL programme should be closely linked with what ELLs are learning in their classroom. Pre-teaching academic vocabulary linked to classroom learning and typical language structures used in the types of texts being created can be highly effective.
  • Ensure a balance between the development of receptive (listening and reading) and productive (speaking and writing) English.
  • Provide plenty of fluency practice. You will also need to allow time for fluency practice which is important for the consolidation of skills e.g. reading for enjoyment, practicing writing e.g. diary writing.