The ideas compiled here are from teacher comments and discussions during a number of professional learning sessions that VicTESOL has run since the move to online and remote learning began. The teachers who participated were from primary and secondary schools and from the adult education sector.

Like the teachers in this session, we hope the ideas and resources in this list help you to also feel more confident about supporting EAL learners remotely. This list includes the positives (what’s working), some challenges, tips, strategies and resources. We hope you find them both useful for, and affirming of your experiences and practices.  Thank you to all the participants for sharing their ideas and to the session facilitators for compiling them.

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EAL information for schools is outlined on the Department website at:

https://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/support/diversity/eal/Pages/default.aspx

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Victoria Butterfield, Voula MacKenzie, Heena Sharma, Panayiota Kai
The Virtual EAL New Arrivals Program of the Victorian School of Languages (VSL)
Tuesday 28 April, 4-5pm
Online Webinar

Are you faced with the challenge of teaching your EAL students online during the COVID-19 crisis?

This session provided practical strategies for teaching EAL online, followed by a Q and A session with a panel of expert primary and secondary EAL teachers who work with the Virtual EAL New Arrivals Program.

Participants learnt tips and strategies for the effective use of videoconferencing to teach EAL learners. Examples were shown of how engaging lessons can be conducted online for F-10 EAL learners at all levels.

This professional learning session focused on working with EAL students who have access to videoconferencing software at home.

About the Virtual EAL New Arrivals Program [VNAP]
The Virtual EAL New Arrivals Program supports new arrival EAL students using video conferencing sessions delivered through a distance education model at the Victorian School of Languages (VSL). The Virtual EAL New Arrivals Program (VNAP) is specifically for newly-arrived EAL learners in remote country schools who cannot access an English Language School or English Language Centre.

Victoria Butterfield is co-coordinator and a teacher in the Virtual EAL New Arrivals Program (VNAP). She is a highly accomplished EAL teacher who has taught in English Language Schools and Centres in Victoria for the past twelve years. Since 2017, Victoria has taught in the Virtual EAL New Arrivals Program to support newly-arrived EAL learners and teachers in regional Victoria.

Voula MacKenzie is an experienced EAL, Information Technology and Humanities teacher, who has taught in Victorian secondary schools, English Language centres and most recently at the Virtual EAL New Arrivals Program (Distance Education) hosted at the Victorian School of languages campus in Thornbury. Since 2014, Voula has led the development of the Virtual EAL program, which began as a pilot project, and is now an established program with 65 students throughout rural Victoria. Voula co-coordinates the program.

Heena Sharma is a generalist teacher specialising in EAL. She has worked in government Primary schools for over 15 years and in collaboration with Panayiota Kai teaching EAL. Heena Sharma joined the Virtual EAL New Arrivals Program team in 2017.

Panayiota Kai is a generalist teacher specialising in Languages and EAL. She has taught in government Primary and Secondary schools for over 20 years. Panayiota has worked as an EAL Coach, trained EAL Leaders and offered PD on EAL issues. Panayiota has been part of the Virtual EAL New Arrivals Program as Curriculum Co-ordinator since 2015.

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Wednesday 4 March

Functional Multilingualism/Translanguaging are currently popular terms being researched, discussed and adapted to diverse learning settings. This webinar was a practical response to the current interest in Translanguaging, suggesting ways this might look in EALD classrooms and what teachers might consider when developing Translanguaging activities. With the intention of bringing students’ linguistic and cultural knowledge to the fore through redesigning Australian Curriculum and SACE task, four tasks, along with samples of student work, were presented and discussed.

Janet Armitage currently works for the South Australian Department for Education in the role of EAL/D Hub Coach supporting teachers in professional development that recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander EALD learners. Janet undertook action research in a large secondary school in South Australia where she was an EALD teacher and EALD & Languages Coordinator. She is also a PhD candidate in Applied Linguistics with the University of South Australia and has been part of a team providing professional development to Languages teachers across the state.

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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.

VicTESOL Symposium – August 2019

In this inspiring presentation, Carolyn shared her experience and insights into supporting newly arrived migrants and refugees in a school setting. She began with a look at what constitutes an “I can” rather than an “I can’t” mindset, then outlined ideas about how to gather information, value stories and build relationships with new families. She then introduced some practical resources for teachers to use in planning and implementing programs to support students in their settlement and English language learning. Positive and constructive, this session reassured teachers that they can make, and are making, a difference to each student every day.

Session Summary by Michelle Andrews, VicTESOL Committee Member

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VicTESOL Symposium – August 2019

Fiona, Brooke and Susan spoke about the teaching and learning cycle that they use with their EAL students following participation in Margaret Nutbean’s intensive TYCEMC workshops. Participants were able to see how ideas from the workshop were modified to meet the learning needs of the EAL students in their setting. The ideas presented at their workshop were practical, relevant and demonstrated how the teaching and learning cycle supported the EAL students through recycling and reinforcing language. An engaging presentation that left participants with ideas to consider using in their own classrooms.  

Session summary by Yan Yao Choong, VicTESOL committee member

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VicTESOL Symposium – August 2019

Kate Plant demonstrated how she works with the teachers in Newbury Primary School to set up a program that places student wellbeing at the forefront to provide an optimum learning environment for the EAL students in her school. She discussed using strategies such as using standard visual displays across the school and consistent classroom routines to reduce the cognitive load on the EAL students. She also talked about how she structures her timetable to ensure that EAL students receive EAL instruction according to their level of support required. Kate also talked about how she engages families in their children’s learning. Participants came out of the workshop equipped with practical ideas that can be implemented in their own schools.

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