Using TEAL to improve assessment of EAL learners in my school

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    • #4815
      Alan Williams

      We are interested in how teachers are using TEAL to improve assessment of their EAL learners.This is both in EAL classrooms and EAL focused teaching, and in mainstream classrooms and content where EAL students are learning. Please share your experiences and strategies, so others may learn from them. You may also like to share your challenges, so other teachers can make suggestions about how they have addressed similar challenges.

    • #5169

      My colleague and I are currently setting up a new to English program for students in Years 6, 7, and 8 in an international (South East Asia) school setting. We use NSW/ACARA curriculum and are hoping to track the success of the program. We are looking for advice regarding tools to use – particularly initial assessment. All thoughts are welcome and we thank you in advance

      • This reply was modified 6 years, 2 months ago by Susanne.
    • #5224

      Hi Kelly,

      Thanks for this question. It is a good one, and a very important one.

      Assessment of newly enrolled EAL students is essential to get an idea of the students’ current skills and their learning needs. It is sometimes overlooked by schools. It is important that the staff enrolling new students gather information on new EAL learners and understand the prior learning experiences, and whether they have any prior experience of learning English. Some schools have procedures involving speaking to parents through interpreters to understand the child’s experiences prior to coming to the school, and what languages they already speak. It is good if an EAL teacher is involved in the enrolment procedures of EAL students.

      Teachers need to understand their new EAL students’ levels of English in order to provide teaching that meets their needs. The oral and written TEAL common assessment tasks offer tools for teachers to use in assessing newly-enrolled students. Select two or three oral tasks and two or three writing tasks, and over the child’s first week in the school, ask them to complete these tasks. Select tasks you think will match the levels of the student, based on the information you have about their prior learning of English.
      Some hints in doing this:
      • Give them one task at a time. Remember fatigue will affect student performance, so if you give the student too many tasks at once, you will not get really accurate information about their skills.
      • Chose at least some related tasks, something that has similar language demands, but one that involves speaking about a topic and one that involves writing about the same or a similar topic. In this way you can see if the students’ oral and written language skills are at a similar level.
      • Ask them to read a text students you think they should be able to read, based on what you know about them. Illustrated books have the advantage of you being able to ask the students to talk about what they see in the pictures.
      • Select tasks that involve or assume less prior learning, or are based on the students’ personal experience, so you get a clear picture of their language skills. If a student is given a task about unfamiliar content, they may perform badly – not because of language skills, but because of limited content knowledge.
      • It is often interesting to re-assess a student on one or two of these tasks 3 or 4 weeks after the initial assessment. Sometimes the anxieties of starting in a new school affect the student’s performance of the task when they first complete it. So it is worth checking again after they have started to settle down in the new learning environment, they may do better as they are starting to be more relaxed and at ease.
      • In your first rounds of assessment focus on what the student can do in English. After you have some idea of the sort of communication they can achieve, you may move more to assessment tasks that relate to the learning they will be involved in across the curriculum, to identify their EAL learning needs. In this way you can make a fine tuned assessment of the language support they will need in order to participate in learning across the curriculum, and making a learning plan so you can provide focused teaching that will meet their needs.

      These are some general ideas. It would be great to hear form other teachers about the ways they assess newly-enrolled EAL students.

      Alan Williams
      The TEAL team.

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