Tuesday, 30 November 2010

What do we leave behind?...

Imagine in the middle of the night,your house is under attack and you are just a child. Suddenly, your parents decide to move to a safe location. You have a small suitcase and many beautiful belongings at home. You need to choose what you take with you very carefully. It should not be heavy because you may have to carry it yourself all the way long!  What emotions would you put in your suitcase; fear, anxiety, sadness? Apparently children are happier if they are with their parents even if the situation is dangerous. What about the children who have to leave their parents due to war, dispute, climate change and natural disasters?


Just imagine!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Language functions by Pauline Gibbons...

This excerpt from the book called ‘Learning to learn in a second language’ and written by Pauline Gibbons. It is about how to programme for language across the curriculum.

‘There are many functions or purposes for which language is used in the classroom, and a useful starting point for programming for language across the curriculum is to identify functions which will be required through your programme. This will allow you to describe in general terms the language that your children will need in order to participate and to learn in your classroom. The list below represents the more common functions of a language;

· agreeing & disagreeing

· apologizing

· asking for permission

· asking for assistance, directions

· classifying

· comparing

· commanding/giving instructions

· criticizing

· denying

· describing

· inquiring/questioning

· evaluating

· expressing likes and dislikes

· Expressing position

· Expressing obligation

· Explaining

· Hypothesizing

· Identifying

· Inferring

· Planning and predicting

· Refusing

· Reporting

· Sequencing

· Suggesting

· Warning

· Wishing and hoping

To identify the language functions currently being used in your classroom, try matching some of the teaching and learning activities in your programme with the relevant language functions.

Look particularly at those areas of the curriculum not traditionally thought of as ‘language’, such as maths, science, social studies or craft.

The following comments from a group of teachers may be helpful.

Classifying: ‘During Maths activities the children were sorting shapes and talking about the groups they made ‘Hypothesizing: In social studies we were talking about the greenhouse effect and what might happen in the future.

Describing: ‘We were doing modelled writing and composing a setting for a story’

Giving and following instructions: ‘In PE I told children to curl up, tuck their heads in and do a forward roll’

Explaining: ‘We’ve been studying rocks and one group chose to research fossils; they gave a presentation on how fossils are formed.

Predicting: ‘The children were discussing what we are going to see at the zoo next week and what they will need to bring on the excursion.’

Choosing the words

Within any of the language functions there are many ways of expressing a similar idea. Think, for example, of how you might express, as part of an explanation, the cause and effect relationship between these two ideas.

It rained. The soil got washed away.

Any competent native speaker could offer a range of alternative wordings, such as:

It rained and so the soil got washed away.

The soil got washed away because it rained.

Because it rained the soil got washed away.

As a result of the rain, the soil got washed away.

The soil was eroded as a result of the rain.

The soil getting washed away was the result of the rain.

The rain caused the soil to be washed away.

The soil erosion was caused by rain.

Each of these wordings represents a different way of expressing a similar idea. However, it is important to give some consideration to what kind of language is appropriate for a particular activity, and for a particular grade. It is especially important where there are large numbers of second language speakers because of the tendency many language learners have to ‘stay with the known’.

If what you have learned to say works for you and allows you to meet your immediate needs, then it is often easier to stay with the known. Remaining with the known, therefore, while works for the tourist, is a hazardous strategy for the bilingual learner in the school.

Tips for teaching EAL students...


·        Welcome and greet your EAL students in their home language if possible. (Ask EAL team to provide you with the list of greetings)
·        Please pronounce their names correctly. If you don’t know how to pronounce them please ask the student himself/herself.
·        Allow the new arrivals to be silent for a while until they get used to their new environment.  
·        Talk about the topic; find out what your students already know about it.
·        Make learning objectives clear and explicit to the students.
·        Identify 5 keywords and write them on board.
·        Say the keywords and ask the students to repeat after you.
·        If you can find the matching pictures, stick them on board next to the keywords.
·        Make sure your EAL students write them down and look them up for the meaning in their bilingual dictionaries if they are literate in home language. (Always ask for your literate EAL students to have their dictionary ready)
·        Identify the language structure and the grammar that the EAL students will have to use in lessons and teach them in context.
·        Plan structured pair/group work opportunities for developing speaking.
·        If the lesson requires writing make sure that it has a purpose such as; writing for a school newsletter, writing to the Mayor, writing to the Head teacher etc.
·        Prepare visual, auditory and kinaesthetic activities.
·        Always keep relating to the real life situations.
·        Allow students to use their first language to translate and activate their creativity.
·        Prepare writing frames for your EAL students to use.
·        If you are supported by an EAL teacher or TA in your lesson, take time for joint planning and make sure that you can do some partnership teaching with the EAL teacher.
·        Always celebrate the background and languages which your EAL students bring to your classroom.


·        During speaking and writing activities provide advanced bilinguals with specialised and highly technical language such as; bunking (everyday lang.), truancy (specialised lang.), truancy, attendance issues (highly technical lang.)
·        Ask your students to practise changing the nouns, verbs, adjectives or adverbs in a sentence such as;

‘Shaking with anger, the teacher shouted at the class’

Ask them to change the verb or/and the subject of the main clause.
(Good starter activity)

·        ‘ You shall know a word by the company it keeps’
J. R. Firth (British linguist, 1890-1960)

             Give some collocations to your EAL students; words which they go     together such as;
                    to break (verb);
                        a habit, a leg, a promise, a record, a window,  someone’s heart, the ice, the law , the news to someone, the rules

                       (adverb + adjective) utterly stupid, fully aware

                       (adjective +noun) regular exercise, excruciating pain

                        (noun + noun) round of applause, bars of soup

                        (noun + verb) lion roars, dog barks

                        (verb + noun) to commit murder, to give a presentation

                        (verb + expression with preposition) to have run out of money, to burst into tears

                        (verb +adverb) to place something gently, to whisper softly


Saturday, 27 November 2010


An excellent article about giving guidance to students on how to use the educational technology! Strongly recommended...

Check out the UNICEF UK's new website...It's brilliant! I love these guys and what they are doing for the world. Please help and support if you can!

More ideas and suggestions for EAL activities... 

Some useful websites for EAL students and teachers


I hope you enjoy them!
Hello everyone,
I teach EAL (English as an Additional Language) students in a secondary school. Our students come from all over the world. Some arrive as political refugees and some arrive as financial refugees. All live in extremely difficult and poor conditions here. I aim to create safe and secure learning environment for them but also encourage them to settle down to their new learning environment as quickly as possible. The quicker is the better...I know there are many teachers also teaching the new arrivals. If you want to share your experiences, please write to me and I will publish them on my blog.