Conference: “Enhancing EAL support: opportunities and best practice”

This conference brings together practitioners and researchers to explore ways of enhancing the support of EAL children.  The main themes are:

  • The Home Language as a source of transferable language competence
  • The use of drama and poetry to enhance language and confidence in EAL pupils
  • Barriers and opportunities to share and enhance best practice

WHEN: Saturday 6th of July 2019 (9:00 – 17:15)
WHERE: University of Leeds (Parkinson SR 1.08)

Ample time for discussion and exchanges has been built into the schedule to make the event as interactive as possible and enable the co-creation of an agenda for future collaboration between practitioners and researchers.

A “sister” conference will take place the day before on the theme of “Language Analysis to enhance Language Teaching”.  We would like to invite you to attend both days if you can.  Please follow the link for further information (including registration).

Programme: (see below for abstracts and presenters’ bios)

09:15Cécile De Cat and
Helen Sadig
09:30Francesca La MorgiaEmbracing linguistic diversity as a common goal: community initiatives meet national language strategies
11:00Heather Price and
Eric Ansong
An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the ‘Speech Bubbles’ Drama Intervention Programme
12:00Jen Harris Demonstration of the ‘Speech Bubbles’ Drama Intervention
13:30Jenny Jakisch Addressing home languages in early (foreign) language learning: empirical results and teaching perspectives
14:30Alison SmithAnimating Poetry with EAL pupils: a case study and skill share
15:45Dee RutgersThe knowledge base of CLIL for EAL: Connecting theory and classroom practice
16:45Final discussion
17:15 Close

Practical information:

  • Online registration is required for each day separately.
  • Please register for this conference here.
  • Both events will be free, with lunch and refreshments provided.
  • CPD certificates will be issued to attendees.

Abstracts and presenters’ bios:

Embracing linguistic diversity as a common goal: community initiatives meet national language strategies
Francesca La Morgia

The support given to bilingual children in learning and maintaining their heritage language has usually been the responsibility of non for profit organisations and complementary schools. However, in Ireland the new primary language curriculum as well as the new strategy for foreign languages in education place emphasis on the acquisition of heritage languages and on their use in the classroom. In recent years teachers and early childhood practitioners have become increasingly aware of the benefits of bilingualism and the possibilities presented by implementing a plurilingual approach to teaching. In this talk, Dr La Morgia will discuss the intersection between grass root initiatives such as the Mother Tongues Project and the current national educational strategy, Languages Connect to reflect on ways in which community efforts and language policies can jointly improve outcomes for bilingual children.

Dr Francesca La Morgia is Assistant Professor in Clinical Speech and Language Studies in Trinity College Dublin and the founder and coordinator of the Irish Research Network in Childhood Bilingualism. Before joining Trinity, Francesca lectured in UCD, DCU and at the University of Reading, where she was Assistant Professor in Bilingualism. Francesca has been running workshops for bilingual families, teachers and other professionals for 10 years, and in 2017 she founded Mother Tongues, to offer these workshops to schools and businesses all over Ireland. Francesca has published in international peer reviewed books and journals on the topics of bilingual language development, language dominance in bilingual children, and language impairment. In 2017 her primary school project Language Explorers was awarded the European Language Label.

An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the ‘Speech Bubbles’ Drama Intervention Programme
Heather Price and Eric Ansong

Dr Heather Price worked with Dr Eric Ansong and the London Bubble Theatre Company to evaluate ‘Speech Bubbles’, a speech, communication and language needs drama intervention at Key Stage One. Our presentation reviews our research findings and discusses why the ‘Speech Bubbles’ drama intervention had a positive impact on particular areas of children’s speech, language and communication development.

Children from three different inner London schools aged between 5 and 8 years with high speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) were allocated to two groups. Group 1 received the intervention in 2015-16, and Group 2, in 2016-17 (n = 89 in 2015-16; n = 75 in 2016-17). Researchers measured each group’s SLC development from a baseline and at key points subsequently, using the Communication Trust’s Speech, Language and Communication Progression Tools. We compared the two groups and conducted statistical analyses of the results using linear regression with the difference-in-differences (DiD) estimator to model the treatment effect.

We were able to show that taking part in ‘Speech Bubbles’ can have a statistically significant impact on children’s spoken language, storytelling and social interaction abilities, giving children a marked boost in these areas. We discuss some of the ‘mechanisms of change’ underlying the ‘Speech Bubbles’ effect.

Heather is a Senior Lecturer in Psychosocial Studies. She is particularly interested in practice-near psychosocial research into the emotional well-being of children and young people in educational contexts.

Eric is a Lecturer in International Development, Political Economy and Social Research Methods. He is interested in social capital and the quantitative analysis of dimensions of social exclusion.

Demonstration of the ‘Speech Bubbles’ Drama Intervention
Jenny Harris

Speech Bubbles is a national primary school drama intervention supporting children’s communication skills, confidence and well-being. It supports children in Key stage 1 (5 – 7 year olds) who have been referred to the programme with a range of communication needs. Jenny will lead a typical Speech Bubbles session as part of this conference. There will be time for some questions after the demo.

Jenny Harris is a freelance drama practitioner with over 30 years of experience of leading workshops and drama projects. For 15 years, Jenny was the Education Officer and workshop leader at DIY Theatre Company – a company for adults with learning disabilities. She is currently working on 3 different projects – ‘Storybox’ – creative dementia sessions for people living with a dementia and their family/carers, ‘Golden Years Caravan tour’ – a drama/photography project exploding the myths around retirement, and on ‘Speech Bubbles’ in 3 primary schools for M6 Theatre Company.

Addressing home languages in early (foreign) language learning: empirical results and teaching perspectives
Jenny Jakisch

Multilingualism is a reality in numerous schools and many students grow up speaking a home language other than the societal majority language. Even though multilingualism is viewed positively in (foreign) language didactics, there are few materials and methods for integrating learners’ home languages systematically.

The workshop presents empirical results from a longitudinal study with two hundred 9-10-year-old monolingual and multilingual students from German primary schools who have had 3-4 years of English as a foreign language instruction. Based on these findings, it introduces a multilingual teaching approach that was implemented in English as a foreign language-teaching at 4 German primary schools in 4th grade.

Participants will get to know and try out exercises and activities that were used to address students’ home languages and foster multilingual as well as monolingual students’ language (learning) awareness. They will also learn about cornerstones of the developed multilingual teaching approach and get insights into teaching experiences.

Jenny Jakisch is lecturer at TU Braunschweig, Germany, where she works with future EFL teachers. Her PhD investigated the extent to which English language teaching promotes multilingualism in Germany, based on interviews of teachers and learners. She is currently a member of the MEG-SKoRe II-project (Multilingualism as a linguistic and cognitive resource in English language acquisition in primary school,

Animating Poetry with EAL pupils: a case study and skill share
Alison Smith

In 2018 Ilkley Literature Festival worked with four secondary schools in Leeds and Bradford to trial interventions using creative writing and stop motion animation with 60 pupils who are new to English, supported by an Explore and Test grant from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. In this session Alison Smith, who led the project in her role as Education and Outreach Officer for the Festival, will introduce the “Animated Poetry” project and the approaches used, along with some findings. Alison will also demonstrate the creative process facilitated through the project, allowing participants to try out some of the creative writing and story-boarding methods that were used with pupils.

Alison Smith is an artist, project manager and educator with 10 years of experience devising and delivering creative educational projects spanning digital media, design and technology, visual art and literature. Alison instigated and led the “Animated Poetry” project through her role at Ilkley Literature Festival, who run a year-round engagement programme for schools and young people alongside their Festival programme, which presents over 200 events in one of the largest literature festivals in the North.

The knowledge base of CLIL for EAL: Connecting theory and classroom practice
Dee Rutgers

Content and Language Integrated Learning or CLIL, an educational approach whereby the teaching of subject content (e.g. science) and an additional language (e.g. English) occur simultaneously, may offer valuable opportunities for enhancing EAL support in the UK. Yet, whilst a great deal of research has been conducted over the years to understand the nature and outcomes of CLIL, there remains a critical need for research into how integrated learning is realised in the classroom, and what teacher knowledge and competencies are required for this. This gap in our knowledge affects primary CLIL in particular, with CLIL so far having been more widely established and researched in secondary schools. This talk will, firstly, set out to define more clearly what CLIL is, addressing its notoriously fuzzy boundaries as well as some of the learning theories and principles underlying this particular pedagogical approach. It will then share the findings of a study designed to capture the knowledge base of EAL teachers in primary schools in the UK, as a vital source of information within our understanding of what makes primary CLIL work. It will continue by placing this practical and contextual knowledge in dialogue with the more theorised knowledge base for CLIL teachers that exists in the research literature, thereby connecting theory and practice in a bid to establish a deeper understanding of effective CLIL teaching for the primary years, and define more clearly the opportunities of CLIL for EAL.

Dee Rutgers works as an educational researcher at the University of Cambridge, where her work is driven by a fascination with the social, psychological and cognitive effects of bi/multilingualism and their relevance for education generally, and additional language education specifically. Her work has taken her from the Netherlands to the UK, Ecuador and the US (Florida), and has explored the impact of bilingual education and CLIL on students’ metalinguistic skills and learning of further languages, the intercultural aspects of bilingual education, as well as academic language development in dual-language education. She currently works on a project that looks at the development of multilingual identity in foreign language education in England, and leads research on the professional knowledge base of CLIL in multilingual primary education settings, which brings together expertise from EAL teachers in the UK and CLIL-with-English teachers in the Netherlands.