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Finding the Gold, Guest Post by Jane van der Zeyden

Hi everyone

It is very exciting today to be able to introduce a guest post by Jane van der Zeyden.  Jane is sharing about using the English Language Learning progressions (ELLP) as a formative assessment tool and its relationship with the English Language Intensive programme (ELIP) and Supporting English Language Learning In Primary Schools (SELLIPS) to scaffold learning.

Jane is very experienced having worked in teacher professional development since 2007. During that time she has provided both literacy and ESOL professional development to schools across NZ.
She has worked in Schooling Improvement initiatives, the Accelerating Literacy Learning project (ALL) and has been a Programme Leader in the Consortium of Professional Learning which delivers MOE literacy and English language learning professional development to schools.
She is an experienced primary school teacher and has taught in a wide variety of schools and range of roles including;

  • Leadership roles, (Deputy Principal, Literacy Leader, Senior teacher)
  • Reading Recovery teacher
  • ESOL teacher

During her time as a professional development provider she has worked with the Ministry of Education on advisory groups and to produce resources and support material available to schools.

She currently provides professional learning support to schools through her own company Tools4Teachers.

Enjoy  Jane’s post.


Finding the gold!

 Many schools around NZ are in the process of moving from the use of the ESOL/AF form to using the English Language Learning Progressions to access ESOL funding. Until now the ESOL/AF forms have predominantly been regarded as a process to get funding to provide English language learning support rather than a formative assessment tool. This change is about so much more and as teachers come to grips with the new tracking and monitoring of their ELLs they are beginning to realize that the related resources of ELIP (English Language Intensive Programme) and SELLIPS (Supporting English Language Learning in Primary Schools) are like a pot of gold that has sometimes been sitting in their school, gathering dust, unloved and unnoticed.


These two resources have been in schools for a few years but without taking the time to delve into them and consider how they can be used most effectively they may not have been used to their fullest potential. The titles may also give the impression that they are solely for the use of teachers of ELLs whereas in reality they are useful for all teachers and the ideas and strategies in them can be utilized for all students. After all, we all know that ESOL pedagogy is effective pedagogy for all learners as it is about scaffolding, making learning explicit and breaking learning down into manageable chunks within students’ “zone of proximal development” (Vygotsky).


Neither of the resources are designed as stand-alone programmes but instead they are designed to be used as a bank of ideas, tasks or activities that can be used across the curriculum or adapted for use in a range of contexts. At first glance it is not immediately obvious how they link to the English Language Learning Progressions (ELLP) but the language learning outcomes described in SELLIPS, in particular, are appropriate to the stages of ELLP and are necessary for learners to develop proficiency in both spoken and written English.


One of the key principles for working with ELLs is the need to identify language outcomes alongside the achievement objectives from curriculum learning areas. Take a maths context as an example. When thinking about Geometry and Measurement the language demands that are part of “sorting objects by their spatial features” or “identifying and describing the plane shapes found in objects” (NZ Curriculum, Level Two, Mathematics and Statistics) requires learners to have control over a large amount of topic specific vocabulary and language structures related to measurement. Without specifically identifying this key language, checking student needs in relation to this language and explicitly teaching it to some learners, the mathematical conceptual learning is unlikely to be achieved.  In SELLIPS there is a diagram on p.7 which illustrates this process of identifying language demands as part of the cyclical nature of planning. This is a really helpful starting point if you are wanting to up skill with using this resource successfully as it also shows where key resources fit into this planning model.


If you are using ELIP for the first time you will need to look at p.8 in the introductory section, as this is your roadmap to the resource. From here you can choose from oral, reading or writing foci. There are similarities in the ways the two resources are organized. Both give you a list of suggested learning activities or tasks at three levels i.e teacher directed, joint construction or independent tasks.  Most teachers, when then discover this, realise that the suggested tasks can be used for all learners in their class irrespective of whether they are an ELL or not. The three levels allow teachers to differentiate learning experiences for diverse groups in their class. Teachers might plan for their ELLs to begin with a teacher directed task, then move onto joint construction followed by trying something independently. This is the nature of scaffolding. We move learners from dependence to independence. More able children, or those who are native speakers of English, may start with the independent task as they don’t require the scaffolding that an ELL may need.


The grammar that particular text types contain is also unpacked for teachers in the ELIP resource which is useful for teachers who don’t feel confident in their own grammatical knowledge. Exemplars or suggestions of texts that exemplify particular language features are also part of both resources. In SELLIPS, Learning Indicators illustrate the language that learners will need to learn and gain control of as they become more proficient in English.


If you have not discovered these resources as you make the change to using ELLP to access funding or haven’t had time to explore them in depth I urge you to do so. The change to using ELLP is about strengthening formative practice for our ELLs and to do this effectively it is vital that we use the whole range of key documents and resources together to enhance our practice and accelerate progress for our ELLs. If you are an ESOL teacher and are already familiar with them then this may be a good time to bring them to the attention of teachers in your school as they begin to use ELLP to identify English language learning needs. Don’t forget that both of these resources are also available on ESOL Online as well as in hard copy so access to them is easy. They really are a pot of gold and I know that once you start to use them you will see the benefits for both you and your students.


Jane van der Zeyden