English as an Additional Language
Great Yarmouth has a diverse population, and there are currently around 300 pupils at the academy who have English as an Additional Language - around a third of our students.
Between them, they speak seventeen languages, with Portuguese, Lithuanian, Romanian and Slovakian among the most commonly spoken.
Pupils with English as an Additional Language are fully integrated into mainstream lessons. However, their complete integration in school is only achieved after a gradual process is followed, including:
(1) being supported by a “buddy” who speaks their home language and is proficient in English
(2) attending lessons on a provisional timetable while being assessed for literacy and numeracy, and,
(3) in some cases, continuing to have extra support in intervention slots alongside the normal curriculum.
At Charter, we believe in teacher-led lessons. Our routines are consistently applied and create an atmosphere in which pupils are able to listen in a calm and very focused environment, free from disruption. In this way, pupils are able to hear standard English, carefully and clearly expressed throughout the school day.
Our teaching techniques include breaking down complex content into small “chunks” and guiding pupils' practice with plenty of scaffolding (e.g. word banks, writing frames, modelling writing with visualisers). Pupils’ learning is assessed with tasks based on gestures (e.g. “finger voting”) and mini-whiteboards, and key knowledge is revisited repeatedly over a series of lessons. Such an approach is particularly beneficial for EAL pupils.
Moreover, standard English is deliberately modelled by all staff. All staff insist upon standard English responses from pupils. Charter’s expectations are high. However, we value effort above perfection and have a clear understanding that such expectations must be put into perspective and consider individual pupils’ needs. Pupils must respond confidently with good projection. In this way, we are able to correct pronunciation, build confidence and improve the content of pupil responses.
We also use a great deal of choral response and individual “call and response” activities at Charter. This “echo” approach ensures improved confidence, pronunciation and retention. Teachers adopt a “no hiding place” approach to questioning and deliberately ask a range of pupils to contribute.
Specialist provisions such as visual aids and bilingual dictionaries supplement our classroom teaching methods. We have recently started to offer laptops to those pupils most in need, to be used both in lessons and from home. In addition, the school has subscribed to online platforms specifically developed to support those with English as an Additional Language. The access to laptops and platforms tailored to EAL has been particularly valuable to boost English literacy and pupils’ confidence, and consequently maximise their chances of swift integration in lessons.