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Working with other adults to support bilingual learners

This session is not intended to be an introduction to EAL. The materials assume that student teachers will already have had some input on issues related to bilingualism and the teaching and learning of EAL. The materials are intended to support teachers to understand how they might work with other adults to support the learning of bilingual pupils. It provides tutors, mentors and others involved in teacher training with suggestions for building teachers' skills and knowledge of work effectively with colleagues to support the learning of bilingual pupils.

The session will be most effective after teachers had already had some experience of schools through their initial placements. The sessions are likely to fit well within Professional Studies in Year 3 or prior to the second placement in a PGCE. Within the session, student teachers will consider a range of evidence, including video and audio extracts from staff, readings and research findings. The use of multimedia and source material allows all student teachers to benefit from the sessions, not only those who are training in a multilingual, ethnically diverse environment. The materials used within the session are intended to provide student teachers with some understanding of these issues even if their own placements are in largely monolingual schools. Materials cover both primary and secondary contexts so that tutors can adapt the session to suit the needs of their student teachers. The materials include pre and post session activities and suggestions for assessed tasks.

The suggested session lasts three hours, though it has a three-part structure that enables it to be used more flexibly in shorter time slots. It will introduce student teachers to the roles of different adults in relation to EAL and bilingual learners. Student teachers will have an opportunity to consider different models of collaboration that they might encounter, or wish to develop, in their classroom with specialist EAL teachers or teaching assistants, moving from some background theory to examples of practice. It involves student teachers in thinking about the role of bilingual staff in more detail and how collaboration to support bilingual learners may differ from collaborations to support other groups of learners.

Pre-session readings

Students can be encouraged to download and read Working with EAL specialists and other support staff. For tutors, the extracts from Creese (2005), Cable (2004) and South (1999) are recommended as preparation for the session.

Resources to enable tutors to lead the session are downloadable here.

Contributing Author

Helen Abji

First published 3rd April 2008