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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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Elena Di Mascolo & Liaqat Gulzari

Dandenong High School

Wednesday 4 September, 4-5pm

In this workshop, Elena and Liaqat shared their experiences establishing and implementing specialised programs for recently-arrived EAL students in a culturally-diverse secondary school setting, from Year 7-10. They explained the features of the various academic and non-academic programs, including both embedded and parallel EAL academic programs, community programs and transition processes. There was a particular focus on the “Connect” program, designed to support recently-arrived EAL students over 16 years of age. They shared their pedagogical approaches and the related strategies they employ and look at measures of success. Resources and processes were also shared in order to assist schools to develop programs tailored to their own settings.

Elena is a Learning Specialist at Dandenong High School. She has been teaching in the areas of EAL and Learning Difficulties for about 20 years and has worked at Dandenong High School for ten of those years. She is interested in school structures and pedagogical approaches that support the learning of recently-arrived EAL students who require specialised support to thrive in mainstream secondary school settings.

Liaqat is a Learning Intervention Officer at Dandenong High School. He has been supporting students at the school for two years. He is interested in supporting the learning of students in a mainstream secondary school setting.

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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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Matt Rodger and Greg Gow from Foundation House introduced the Schools Support Program that their organisation provides. They then explained the research project and resulting report: School is where you need to be equal and learn. Gaining insights from students of refugee backgrounds was the aim of this project. Greg and Matt described how this was done through focus groups with students from three Victorian schools. One of the key findings of the report was the importance of teachers in creating a classroom where all students feel supported and are about to contribute. A copy of the report is available at: http://www.foundationhouse.org.au/

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https://www.digitalliteracies.info/

 

This toolkit has been developed as part of the 2016 VicTESOL Research Grant project Improving refugee students’ access to digital literacies: integrating transmedia storytelling in an EAL (Year 7) classroom.  The project aimed to develop and disseminate a web-based toolkit for EAL practitioners consisting of a flexible framework and a set of teaching resources to support teaching digital literacies which are of particular importance for refugee students.

Mei French, Ashima Suri and Rita Alexander

In multicultural and multilingual school contexts, it is beneficial for all teachers to develop strong intercultural relationship skills and understand the role of multilingualism in the classroom in order to support English learning across the curriculum. As colleagues in a South Australian secondary school, Mei, Ashima, and Rita, designed and delivered a whole-school professional learning program which addressed this need. They advocated for EALD students as individuals and experts, and invited colleagues to learn more about the lives, strengths and resources of the EALD learners in their classes. Over the course of a school year, teachers were encouraged to take on the role of learner, to listen to students’ stories, and to learn new skills from them. Teachers reported improved understanding of their students’ life experiences, deeper empathy, more positive relationships, and adopted more creative approaches to pedagogy that support English learning across the curriculum. While the EALD specialists running these workshops reported feeling re-energised by their role in the program. This professional learning program was memorable, sustainable and allowed all teachers to rethink themselves as co-learners with EALD students.

In this webinar, Mei, Ashima and Rita outline the program they conducted in the school, and give advice to webinar participants about planning a professional learning program for their own context, drawing on the EALD elaborations to the AITSL standards.

Presenters
Mei, Ashima and Rita worked together teaching multilingual young women at a South Australian secondary school.

Now based in Canberra, Mei French is an EALD specialist, who combines secondary school teaching with teacher education and curriculum development. She has been an active contributor to advocacy and professional learning through TESOL associations. Her PhD investigated the complex and purposeful multilingual practices of secondary school students and their teachers, and the implications for practice and policy.

Ashima Suri is an EAL and Science teacher. As an EAL network teacher in Adelaide, Ashima has worked across different schools, supporting both students and staff to use different pedagogies to support the development of academic English for students. She takes particular interest in the many ways multilingual students contribute significantly to the school community.

Rita Alexander is an experienced teacher who has worked with EAL learners at all stages of schooling from early childhood to Year 12. Rita’s career has seen her work in a broad range of contexts across South Australia. Rita takes particular interest in harnessing students’ varied cultural and linguistic experiences to construct positive learning identities and supporting the learning of English language across the curriculum.