not your average zoe

life, love and knitting


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Helping learners who have English as an Additional Language (EAL)

In my new placement there is a 80% EAL contingent in the school, primarily Polish, but some others thrown in for variety and spice!  As with all children the ability level is varied from 0 words of English to fluent, so although in my practice I use a varety of methods, today I want to concentrate on the real basics.

Firstly, be clear.  Do not use 10 words when you can be clear with 2!

Go and get your coat and bag, don’t forget your bottle and jumper or lunchbox! 

can be clearer as:

Coat and bag. 

and after that is complete:

jumper and bottle.

Which I would always say with Makaton signs too.

Secondly, don’t use a picture when a real object is available.  It means more.

Thirdly, explain, explain, explain.  When reading a story, ask all the children what words mean e.g. who can explain the word “crooked” to me?  “What does her face tell you?”  “Can you show me an angry face?  Upset face? Happy face?”  

Fourthly, if you are teaching phonics, make sure you explain words to them and don’t present them all as words they should know,  Many children with English as a first language benefit from this too!

Fifthly, Actions speak louder than words!  I personally love Makaton and use it constantly, if you have another method then use it, but some will pick up on the actions way before the words.  [This is a great way to introduce High Frequency Words too for all languages]

Sixth, be patient.  Mondays are hard as they have spent all weekend in native language mode.  Especially after holidays.  They will start off confused, but they will get there!

and lastly, try a few key words in their language.  In my experience the children are much more keen to try out English when I’ve asked them to teach me some of their words.

Some phonetic Polish that I of course use with makaton signs!

chesht = Hello

Yakta mosh = How are you?

Ya stem dobjer = I’m fine!

Prosher = please

dyenkoyay = thanks

parpar = bye!

Do you have any tips to share?


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Dear son, don’t let Robin Thicke be a lesson to you

I really agree with this guy – but mainly because I have been harping on about this point in particular. I think we need to re-evaluate what we consider a reason to make people a celebrity. Why are we CELEBRATING these people? What have they done that makes them worthy of acknowledgement? Why is it so important that 2 singers and dancers who did lewd dancemovess (not unheard of) get the worldwide publicity they don’t deserve for doing things that aren’t worthy of such attention?

The Matt Walsh Blog

***Update, August 1: In response to the thousands of people who, after reading this entire post, decided to harp on one single phrase (“I’m no feminist”), I wrote this. If you want to know how I can say all the things I say here, yet still reject “feminism,” click the link and I’ll explain. Otherwise, carry on. Thanks for stopping by.

Our country dangles on the precipice of starting a third World War. We are on the verge of a completely unnecessary conflict where the United States will fight along side Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. This, in another day and age, might earn the crown as the Most Controversial Story of the Week. But we’re in the year 2013, and this is America, so a young pop star’s dance moves on an MTV awards show have predictably overshadowed the prospect of global chaos and bloodshed. I wrote…

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