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Professor Rhonda Oliver, Curtin University
Monday 28 October, 7-8pm (Australian Eastern Standard Daylight Savings Time)

Australian Aboriginal people interact in diverse ways and this is especially the case for those who grow up and live in rural and remote locations. In such locations Standard Australian English (SAE) is often not spoken as the residents’ first language or dialect, instead they may have either traditional Indigenous language(s) or an English-lexified creole as their first language (L1), or they may have Aboriginal English (AE) as their first dialect. In addition, most will also use AE as the lingua franca to communicate with other Aboriginal people who do not share their home language. For Aboriginal people, particularly those living in the rural and remote communities, the importance of language (i.e., traditional languages, creoles and AE), both for the maintenance of culture and as a marker of Aboriginality, should not be underestimated. For younger people in particular, their Aboriginal languages contribute in significant ways to the formation of their self-identity. At the same time, however, to fully participate in mainstream Australian society Aboriginal people also need to develop an awareness of and have skills in using SAE. This is especially the case for those studying in schools and universities. To address this need, Aboriginal students have been encouraged and, at times, explicitly taught to codeswitch – changing from their home language to SAE within the classroom. This has been implemented on the assumption that written literacy development will emerge from such a foundation. Yet despite this, educational outcomes (e.g., NAPLAN results) show they continue to achieve under the national standard in language and literacy (ACARA, 2012). While formal success in SAE seems elusive, many Aboriginal speakers, including children, demonstrate a complex linguistic repertoire. Rather than simply switching from one language to another they move fluidly between their various linguistic codes and do so as required by the context, audience, and the learning environment. In this presentation I will describe various observational data showing the diverse ways and various modes in which they do this and make suggestions for how pedagogy (including assessment) can move beyond our current monolinguistic hegemony to one that is Informed by a translanguaging perspective (Garcia & Wei, 2014).

Professor Rhonda Oliver is Head of the School of Education at Curtin University, Perth, Australia. She is widely published in the area of second language acquisition with more than 4,000 citations to her publications. Internationally she is best known for her work in relation to child language learners. As well as work within the interactionist paradigm, she has also conducted numerous studies on language learners in schools and universities. She has also undertaken work in the area of Aboriginal education, particularly for those students who have Standard Australia English as their second language or dialect.

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VicTESOL Symposium – August 2019

Steven delivered a hands on and engaging workshop where participants learned about the idea of using gestures to teach new vocabulary to EAL students. He spoke about the connection between speech and gestures and in this workshop. Among other things, participants experienced learning a new language using gestures to represent phonics (sounds on fingers), phrases and sentences (words on fingers) and to elicit sounds or words from students. Steven’s presentation left participants with new ideas to consider using with their own EAL students.

Session summary by Yan Yao Choong, VicTESOL committee member

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VicTESOL Symposium – August 2019

Jodie Whitehurst took us on a captivating journey during her interactive workshop “Using drama techniques in the teaching of adult EAL” by inviting us to participate in several authentic drama-based activities. The room was filled with a sense of excitement and trust and the participants transformed into the learners who had to perform and act in order to see in action the empowerment of drama activities in the classroom. Jodie offered us her insights and knowledge that comes from her personal expertise and experience with drama in an EAL classroom. Plus, working with others gave us the opportunity to come out of our comfort zone, open our mind and have fun as we all worked collaborative to achieve the same goal: optimal learning experience for our learners!

Session summary by Leah Kontos, VicTESOL committee member

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Incorporating Action Research in the Classroom with Low Language and Literacy Learners

Rebecca Grimaud, Hân Trinh, Hayley Black – Carringbush Adult Education

In this workshop Rebecca, Han and Hayley shared their experience incorporating action research into the classroom. They explored approaches to teaching digital and traditional literacy skills to low language and literacy learners. They shared ideas and activities that they have trialled, including using technology, gestures, learner-centred tasks and students’ L1 in the classroom to help students to learn English.

Rebecca has been a teacher in a variety of settings in England, France and Australia for over ten years. She joined Carringbush as a literacy volunteer in 2017 and now teaches low level literacy learners two days a week. Rebecca also teaches French at a local Primary school. She is interested in the use of gestures and explicit pronunciation to help learners increase their confidence in speaking.

Hân has worked as an ESL teacher in Vietnam and Australia for more than 5 years. She studied her Masters of TESOL in Melbourne and joined Carringbush teaching team in 2018. Hân has mainly worked with low level literacy learner groups at Carringbush and is interested in teaching explicit pronunciation and incorporating multilingual teaching approaches into her practice.

Hayley Black is an EAL teacher with a secondary school media and EAL teaching background and a Masters in TESOL. She currently teaches beginner level EAL classes at Carringbush Adult Education. Hayley has taught in the Victorian school system as well as teaching and volunteering overseas in Korea, Nepal and Japan. Her professional interests focus on pedagogical development for teachers working with adults at the Foundation level.

Greg Gow, Program Coordinator, Schools Support Program & Matt Rodger, Schools Support Officer West Region, Schools Support Program

‘School is where you need to be equal and learn’: Insights from students of refugee backgrounds on learning and engagement in Victorian secondary schools (2019)

This report presents the findings of a research project conducted by the Schools Support Program at the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture (Foundation House). This project sought out the insights of students of refugee backgrounds on the barriers and facilitators to learning and engagement at school. Focus groups were conducted at three Victorian secondary schools, with 51 students (aged 13-19). The students were all from refugee backgrounds and had arrived in Australia within the past seven years. Through this project the Schools Support Program was able to learn directly from students of refugee backgrounds and position them, through their lived experience, as experts on ‘what works’ to support them at school.

In this webinar, Greg and Matt take you through the findings of this report and provide insights into how this report can inform practice at your school.

 

 

VicTESOL’s Teaching and Learning Cycle project, launched in 2018, was made possible by the generous support of a Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET) Common Funding Agreement (CFA). VicTESOL has also contributed to this project.

VicTESOL enlisted the specialist Prof Beverly Derewianka, an expert in EAL and mainstream language education and literacy, to work with a team of teachers from various schools in Victoria. They spent several days studying the Teaching and Learning Cycle, then went back to their schools to produce a Unit of Work relevant for their specific context.

We are proud to share these Units of Work with the education community.