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Professional Development

Professional development in the teaching of EAL and bilingual learners

In the UK, EAL is not currently a subject specialism in initial teacher education. In 2009, the TDA embarked on a 5 year strategy for EAL. As a first step it sponsored NALDIC to undertake a national survey into the amount, nature and effectiveness of in-service teacher education and professional training for teachers working with linguistic and ethnic minority pupils and their families.

This audit, which included information about over 200 courses involving over 11,000 staff in 2007-8 found an inconsistent picture. The content of much training was induction or entry level which might reasonably be expected to form part of every teachers’ initial teacher education. There was very limited provision for EAL early professional development and some evidence that the absence of nationally agreed content areas has led to CPD and vocational provision that was reactive rather than progressive, and to development issues being displaced by short term foci. Only 12% of the training was accredited, and only a quarter was sustained over a term of longer. The major gap identified by survey respondents was sustained and accredited CPD for EAL specialists and coordinators.

A similar lack of high quality provision was identified in initial teacher education in subsequent research carried out on behalf of the TDA by the Insitute of Education. In response to this, and ever increasing linguistic diversity across Europe, Teacher education in an era of linguistic diversity is a shared challent across Europe. NALDIC has been a partner in a pan Europen project EUCIM-TE which has been developing a European core curriculum of modules for teacher education.

UK Research

English as an additional language: an evaluation of pilot training courses (OFSTED 2006)

An evaluation of five pilot courses for training specialist teachers and teaching assistants in EAL which sought to identify effective practice on which to build a national framework for professional development in EAL

Bilingual Resources and “Funds of Knowledge” for Teaching and Learning in Multi-ethnic Classrooms in Britain.
Martin-Jones,M. & Saxena,M. 2004. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. Vol.6, n.3. p267-282. Multilingual Matters.

This study focused on the role of bilingual classroom assistants employed to support learners of EAL in primary schools in gaining full access to the curriculum in mainstream classrooms. The observational study of three Punjabi/Urdu speaking assistants in the north-west of England shows how, as well using the children’s first languages for classroom management and interpreting the teachers’ instructions, the assistants use culturally significant verbal and non-verbal cues to link classroom practice with children’s experiences in the home and create a warm and supportive learning atmosphere.

Bilingual Teachers in Mainstream Secondary School Classrooms: using Turkish for Curriculum Learning.
Creese,A. 2004. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, Vol. 7 N.2&3 p.189-203.

In the UK, teachers who specialise in the field of EAL are initially trained as subject specialists and opportunities for specialist training are limited. In this context EAL teachers who work in classroom partnerships with subject specialists can easily become marginalised as the mainstream teacher focuses on the subject taught and the EAL teacher takes on the role of a language helper. This paper reports on a substantial in-depth study of the work of EAL teachers in three linguistically diverse London schools. It focuses in particular on the role of 6 EAL teachers who are Turkish/English bilinguals (Turkish being the most common first language in the schools). The study noted that these teachers focus primarily on conveying subject content through translating, interpreting and direct teaching. It also noted that “cooperative fully-fledged teaching relationships between subject teachers and EAL teachers in secondary schools are rare” (p.200).

The Discursive Construction of Power in Teacher Partnerships: language and Subject Specialists in Mainstream Schools. Angela Creese, 2002. TESOL Quarterly, Vol.36, N.4, p.597-615.

Based on an earlier study of 6 bilingual EAL teachers, this paper examines the relationship between non-bilingual EAL teachers and the classroom teachers with whom they work. The findings indicate that the EAL specialists work very much in a supporting rather than a partnership mode and that they are not perceived, either by mainstream teachers or by pupils, as having equal status. It also suggests that few mainstream teachers have taken on board the expectation that they are teachers of language as well as of subject content.

Support for Minority Achievement – Continuing Professional Development. OfSTED 2002.

This study considered opportunities for professional development for teachers funded by the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant. Inspectors looked at the range and quality of training for teachers and other staff in ten local education authorities to evaluate the impact on training of the grant after it was introduced in April 1999. The key finding of the report was that whilst there is wide-ranging and good-quality professional development provision, this 'does not meet one of the most urgent training needs in this area, namely for more specialists'. The report estimates that only 30% of EMAG teachers now have specialist qualifications in this area. Only one of the LAs included in the study ran a substantial course for EMAG specialists. In addition there had been a decrease in the accredited training for bilingual assistants.

Online Readings

Professional Development for Language Teachers
Gabriel H. Diaz-Maggioli, National Administration of Public Education, Uruguay, August 2003

Professional Development for Teachers in Culturally Diverse Schools
Nancy Clair and Carolyn Temple Adger, Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory at Brown University, October 1999

Programs That Prepare Teachers to Work Effectively With Students Learning English
Josué M. González and Linda Darling-Hammond, December 2000

The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol: A Tool for Teacher-Researcher Collaboration and Professional Development
Deborah J. Short, Center for Applied Linguistics, and
Jana Echevarria, California State University, Long Beach, December 1999

Teaching Educators About Language: Principles, Structures, and Challenges
Nancy Clair, Center for Applied Linguistics, November 2000