Supporting our EAL/D students and teachers in schools

Year: 2019

Author: Beveridge, Lorraine, Cox, Robyn, Jones, Pauline, Dong, Chuanmei, Fraser, Henry, Saleh, Abby, Saleh, Abby

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

AARE Panel Discussion

1 hour

Supporting our EAL/D students and teachers in schools

Many students who identify as English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D), have low literacy levels and a history of trauma and interrupted schooling, which may negatively impact their academic progress, placing them “at risk” of educational failure. A Western Sydney University research report recognised that developing English language proficiency was an identified priority of 5128 teachers surveyed (Watkins et al, 2013).

Schools play a vital role in transitioning students into a new education system and setting them up for success, as students and their families endeavour to make connections and establish themselves in a new country. EAL/D students are a diverse group, and teachers testify that they are professionally challenged by increasing numbers of EAL/D students in their classes, because they are unsure of how to address their varied language and literacy learning needs. Many classroom teachers report that they feel untrained, unprepared and unsupported in teaching EAL/D students, a role of the highest gravitas and one that all teachers will face at some time in their careers, as refugees and immigrants increasingly settle in non- metropolitan areas, not only in major cities as was the situation in the past.

Feeling safe at school is an identified priority, however greater emphasis is required on teaching and learning practices that ensure EAL/D students can participate equitably in mainstream schooling, in particular, increasing academic language proficiency.

This panel discussion comprises academics, practitioners and parents of EAL/D students, who will collaboratively interrogate the challenges that mainstream teachers face when teaching culturally and linguistically diverse classes, with the aim of better supporting teachers in this challenging role. The panel will discuss evidence-based teaching practices which support EAL/D students, and ALL students, providing those born in Australia with alternate ways of viewing the world.