Interactive activities

Collaborative Learning, a fundamental principle of EAL pedagogy, has been informed by more than thirty years of research and commentary by key figures such as Vygotsky, Cummins, Krashen and Gibbons.

A type of group work, collaborative learning recognises the significance of peer-to-peer support and pitching learning that lies just beyond the reach of an unsupported individual. Collaborative Learning breaks learning down into manageable chunks, encouraging thinking and talking through concrete, visual and tactile curriculum-based activities. Collaborative Learning Project 

Barrier Games

'Particularly useful for children and young people at the early stages of learning English, barrier games focus on developing speaking and listening skills. When rooted within the curriculum, ‘barrier games can also help to develop instructional language, question starters, use of present tense, positional vocabulary, comparative terms, descriptive terminology and subject specific language’ (Pim, 2012)

Typically learners sit either side of a physical barrier so that they cannot see what the other is doing and convey information to each other through oral interaction only. Here are a couple of examples:

  1. One participant gives a detailed description of a ‘resource’ and the other participant must recreate it as accurately as possible – this could be a drawing or a physical object
  2. By asking and answering questions both participants complete identical versions of a similar version that each possesses. Pim C. (2012) ‘100 ideas for supporting learners with EAL’, Continuum.

Directed Activities Related to Texts (DARTs)

Attributed to work done in the 1970s and 80s by Gardner and Lunzer, DARTs encourage learners to engage with texts using active reading strategies. DARTs are usually kinaesthetic in nature, requiring pupils to collaborate and cooperate to solve problems. Such activities require learners to move beyond the literal meaning of texts, asking them to manipulate and sometimes repurpose text into new formats. They can be employed right across the curriculum.

DARTs enable learners to variously consider the structure of a text, how to extract information and how to repurpose it in new ways. Some examples include sequencing, cloze procedures, demarcation. dictogloss, synthesising or repurposing text using graphic organisers, text marking, card sorts, jigsaw activities, KWL grids, opinion lines etc.

https://ealresources.bell-foundation.org.uk/teachers/great-ideas-pages

https://ealresources.bell-foundation.org.uk/teachers/great-ideas-darts

Vocabulary development

Academic vocabulary building is a recurring theme for pupils/students, particularly late beginners and more advanced EAL learners. Introducing and rehearsing 'chunks of language', both words and typical phrases, will support reading and help learners to apply them in their oral and written contributions. An explicit focus on vocabulary development, especially where words are taught in context, will help pupils to ‘secure the command of language that they require for high achievement, particularly at upper primary and secondary school’ Washbourne (2013)

There are many types of collaborative vocabulary games that can be played both orally and as kinaesthetic activities e.g. card games like Taboo, track games like dominoes and follow-me, Jenga vocabulary, Bingo, Call My Bluff, word jigsaws etc.

Formulator Tarsia

Osric’s Bingo card generator 

Storytelling with tablets

There are several apps for tablets that can support story telling with EAL learners. They allow pupils to start the story from pictures of their own making/choosing so that the story narrative is built up through discussion. They are also flexible in that the story can be as complex or as simple as the pupil’s current level of fluency can allow for. See also Comic Touch, Book Creater, Comic Life and Puppetpals HD which have lite versions free to download in some instances of costed apps for full versions. A popular app is iMovie which allows pupils to make digital presentations and movies. Link here to a report on use of technology with advanced EAL learners from Astrid Gouwy and Chris Pim of Hampshire EMTAS http://documents.hants.gov.uk/ABLNALDICArticle2014-04-25.pdf

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