Issues And Strategies Related To Eal Students English Language Essay

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In this assignment I will discuss what teaching methods I would use to teach my chosen text "Wide awake Jake" written by Rachel Elliot to my hypothetical class. Firstly I will introduce my class and learning environment, I will highlight the prepositions and adverbial phrases throughout my chosen text and discuss some relational concepts. Finally I will discuss my choice of teaching methods and justify my reasoning to why I have chosen these teaching methods. As stated by Peregoy and Boyle "Our purpose as educators, we want our students to become competent in four language processes: listening, speaking, reading and writing" (Peregoy, S & Boyle, O., 2008: p. 34). By using the correct teaching methods with EAL students it will empower students to use language effectively and appropriately through everyday experiences whether it be a social, personal or schooling situation (Peregoy, S & Boyle, O., 2008).

As stated by O'Neill and Gish "It is well accepted that our world is distinctively culturally diverse" (O'Neill, S & Gish, A., 2008: p. 20). The majority of the school community is from a low socio economic background with a high percentage of students from other countries. As educators we need to be aware and respectful of our student's cultural background when teaching. My class is a year 1/2; it is made up of twenty students with four of these students being EAL students (an Indigenous boy from Galiwin'ku, two girls from the Sudan and a boy from China). I have an assistant who works in my class for two hours in the morning during my literacy, reading groups and mathematic learning areas. When these lessons are being taught I first work with the whole class and explicitly explain what we are doing, and then we break up into groups and the assistant and I rotate between the groups with the assistant's focus directed primarily towards the EAL students. The EAL students have had previous schooling; the two girls from the Sudan and the boy from China have spent twelve months at Anula Primary School in the Intensive English Unit, the Indigenous boy attended Shepherdson College but he has had periods of interrupted schooling. The students language proficiency in speaking ranges from Level 1-I am unable to communicate effectively enough in my L2/3 to make meaning to Level 3-I can communicate in my L2/3 in a more social context about everyday topics and ask simple questions although I may make some mistakes such that I require some support from the listener. Within their writing the levels are a Level 1-I can communicate effectively in writing in L2/3 for the reader to make meaning and understand the meaning or a Level 2-I can write in L2/3 to effectively communicate the top for a limited number of written texts but meaning is impeded by lack of control of some or all of the features of vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, cohesion and generic structure (O'Neill, S & Gish, A., 2008: p. 242).

The text that I have chosen to use is "Wide Awake Jake" written by Rachel Elliot. I chose this text as I believe that most children can relate to going to bed and not being able to get to sleep. The book uses simple and repetitive phrases; it uses very descriptive language, rhyming words and has great colourful illustrations. I feel the illustrations in the book are just as important as the text, this allows the children to examine and construct meaning, based on their experiences and socio-cultural background that they bring to reading a story (Callow, J., 1999). There is a sequence of events within the story. The text highlights in bold writing the words that it is emphasizing such as big, the text goes to small writing when describing the small animals that Jake pretends to be, this is shown in appendix 1.

Adverbial Phrases

As stated by Derewianka "Adverbs are those words and phrases that provide extra detail about what is going on where?, when?, how?, why?, with whom?, by what means?, for how long? And so on" (Derewianka, B, 2008: p 73). Below are some examples of adverbial phrases found from the text:

"Pretend you're a little bear, going to sleep for the winter," said Mum- Time (For the winter)

"Pretend you're a little mouse, going to sleep in a mouse hole," said Mum- Place (In a mouse hole)

"Pretend you're a baby bird in your nest," said Mum- Place (In your nest)

And with a growly yawn, and a mouse-quiet wink, and a fluttery blink, Jake, the little boy, was fast asleep- Manner (growly yawn, and a mouse-quiet wink, and a fluttery blink)


As discussed by Derewianka "Prepositions are generally single words (e.g. on, in and under) but can sometimes be multiple words (e.g. on top of, in front of)" (Derewianka, B, 2008: p 74). I have underlined some examples of the prepositions in the text:

"Pretend you're a little bear, going to sleep for the winter," said Mum

"Pretend you're a little mouse, going to sleep in a mouse hole," said Mum.

"Pretend you're a baby bird in your nest," said Mum.

And with a growly yawn, and a mouse-quiet wink, and a fluttery blink, Jake, the little boy, was fast asleep.

It is important that the teacher and the students get to know each other so for Term one, the unit of work is called "All about ME" (Peregoy, S & Boyle, O., 2008). The unit of work will be used in all learning areas. Over the weeks the class has discussed their family structure, where they live, daily routines, foods that they eat and so on. The text "Wide Awake Jake" is going to be used for the class reading groups. On Monday's the reading group activity is always completed as a whole class, with the rest of the weeks reading activities broken into groups. The students are broken up into groups of five and they will participate in an activity in relation to the text each day.

Monday's Reading Activity: The students sit in front of the smart board and we read and discuss the text together. Before presenting the text to the class I would go over what we have been talking about over the last few weeks "All about Me" asking the students open ended questions about what they had learnt. Next I would place the title page "Wide Awake Jake" on the smart board and ask the students what they thought the text would be about, writing their answers on the board. I would use the technique modeling through questioning; this is where the teacher asks questions in a way to create the situations where certain language patterns are likely to occur (Gibbons, P., 2000: p. 21). Below is an example of discussion between the student's and teacher:

Teacher: Looking at the cover page, what do you think the book will be about?

1st Student: A boy

Teacher: How do we know it's a boy?

1st Student: From the picture

Teacher: That's right; it's great that you are using the picture to find answers

2nd Student: He is in bed

Teacher: Why do you say that?

2nd Student: Because the picture shows us that he has a blanket and teddy

Teacher: Well done, again you are using the picture to find answers

From this conversation I would then ask the students about their bedrooms and bedtimes, this will enable the students to build on their knowledge of going to bed before reading the text. As stated by O'Neill and Gish "Our ability to understand new concepts is also influenced by our prior knowledge, thinking and practical experiences" (O'Neill, S & Gish, A., 2008: p. 46). After our conversation about sleeping, being awake and bedrooms I would read the text to the students, then as a whole class we would read it together. Stopping after reading each page to discuss the pictures and the text, during this I would ask the students questions about the text.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday Reading Activities:

Gibbon states that "Group work has a number of advantages for language learning" (Gibbons, P., 2000: p. 17). The three activities below have used Communicative Language Teaching, the method is Task Based, as the teacher I have set the environment for the students; the importance of these activities is based on communication and not grammar. This teaching method relates to the sociocultural theory, as discussed by O'Neil & Gish "language use and language learning takes place in various sociocultural settings, which is in keeping with Halliday's (1975) and Vygotsky's (1978) theories that language learning is fundamentally a social activity" (O'Neill, S & Gish, A., 2008: p. 53).

Activity 1: Role playing-in their group the children will role play the text and act it out to the class.

Activity 2: Barrier game-One student will describe their bedroom while the other student draws it, then in their group they will discuss their bedrooms and write a list of differences and similarities. Finally one person from the group will present this to the class.

Activity 3: Sequencing and matching-the group will be given the pictures and text from the book all mixed up; the students need to place the text in order and match the picture to the correct text.

Activity 4: The group will read the text with me the teacher; it is here that I will correct any errors in reading the text. Teacher modeling is the method used here, as I model the text and then correct the students as they read to any errors. The behaviorist theory links in with this method, I will reward the students when they use the correct language in the text and correct the students when they make an error (O'Neill, S & Gish, A., 2008).

As highlighted by Nelson (1974) and Nelson and Levy (1994) the understanding of concept development is much more than just an idea of the object concept, from this they explain that relational concepts are more difficult for the younger learner to understand (O'Neill, S & Gish, A., 2008: p. 48). For activity one, two and three, I have chosen this text to explain relational concepts. Here I want the children to have an understanding that we can use our prior knowledge and own ideas to build on objects e.g. BEDROOMS-bedtime-blankets-pillows-toys. In activity four I would use the text to explain contrasting relational concepts; such as Jake being a little animal and a big animal coming to get him. The text describes in detail how he goes downstairs and upstairs looking to his parents for ideas on how to go to sleep. At the beginning of the book Jake is wide awake and by the end of the book he is fast asleep. From the text the students and I can use this knowledge of big and little when discussing other subjects such as our families, the students height in the class and when describing many things such as animals, buildings, bikes the list can go on and on. By the students having an understanding of relational concept language, they can apply this knowledge in other learning areas (O'Neill, S & Gish, A., 2008).

As stated by O'Neill & Gish "Students' language use, language comprehension and effective language learning is dependent on their teachers ability to develop intercultural literacy as well as that of their students" (O'Neill, S & Gish, A., 2008: p 3). When choosing the text "Wide awake Jake", I took into account not only the EAL student's language proficiency in speaking and writing but also my beliefs that most children can relate to going to bed. The books text and illustrations were a great resource for explaining relational concepts and contrasting concepts. The simple and repetitive phrases in the text contained adverbial phrases and prepositions which built on the descriptive language when describing the situation. The teaching methods involved in the Task Based activities that I chose for the students allowed them to communicate with each other and not place any worry about their grammatical competence. In the activity where the students read the text with the teacher the method teacher modeling is used and corrections any errors are made by the teacher. These teaching methods were linked to the behaviorist and sociocultural theories, theories of language learning are an important factor when teaching as it reflects in all learning areas within the classroom environment (O'Neill, S & Gish, A., 2008).

Appendix 1. Wide Awake Jake by Rachel Elliot

Jake couldn't sleep.

He lay on his back.

He lay on his tummy.

He even lay upside down.

But it was no good.

He was still wide awake.

So Jake got up and went downstairs.....Huff Puff Huffity Puff

"I can't sleep," huffed Jake

"Try counting sheep," said Dad.

But Jake didn't think that would help.

"Pretend you're a little bear, going to sleep for the winter," said Mum.

Jake thought that could work.

So he went back upstairs....pad pad pad

Jake curled up inside his blanket.

"I 'm a little bear,

grrrrr, grrrrr," he growled.

But then he heard noises.

What if it was a great BIG bear?

It might have long, sharp claws and huge, yellow teeth!

And his fur was very itchy.

Jake, the little bear, was still wide awake.

So he got up and went downstairs.... Thump, Bump, Clumpity, Thump!

"I can't sleep," grumped Jake.

"Count to a million," said Dad.

Jake didn't think that would help.

"Pretend you're a little mouse, going to sleep in a mouse hole," said Mum.

Jake thought that could work.

So he went back upstairs...Squeak Squeak Squeak.

Jake crawled to the bottom of his bed.

But then he heard noises.

It might be a big fat cat!!!!!

"Eek!" squeaked Jake, the little mouse.

Hurry Flurry Scurry

"I can't sleep," worried Jake.

Dad just sighed.

Jake didn't think that was very helpful.

"Pretend you're a baby bird in your nest," said Mum.

Jake thought it was worth a try.

So he went back upstairs.....flutter flutter flutter

Jake pulled his pillow under the covers.

"I'm a baby bird, sitting in my nest," he whispered.

But his feathers kept making him sneeze.

Then he heard noises!

Somebody was pulling the covers down....

It was a big, hairy bear! No, it didn't have any claws.

It was a fat, scary cat! No, it didn't have a tail.

It was a big, scowly owl! No, it didn't have a beak.

It was Mum!

Mum put the pillows straight.

She tucked Jake in, nice and tight.

"You're my brave little Jake, safe in your very own bed," said Mum

"Now close your eyes. It's time to sleep."

And with a growly yawn, and a mouse-quiet wink, and a fluttery blink,

Jake, the little boy, was fast asleep.