As part of my professional learning plan I identified that I’d gained little knowledge, skills and strategies for teaching students who were learning English as an additional language or dialect. As I look forward to teaching young children in Africa I felt that this was something I really needed to work on to help me in the future.

In the past I have encountered several young children who have come into my care with little/no English as they were new residents of Australia. As I was still new in my teaching career I did the best I could to help these young people to learn and communicate, but I knew if I were better equipped with skills, knowledge and strategies I could help them even more. When the opportunity arose I took part in an ATESOL (Association of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Professional Development experience to help me on my way. 

atesol PD

break it down














Attending this PD has definitely enlightened me as to how difficult and complex teaching English to ESL students. I now realise that if I want to teach in Tanzania I will need to complete a TESOL course. The speaker at the PD was very lively and passionate about teaching ESL students. The key pieces of information I took from the PD was;

  • Australia is currently in an adjustment phase for ESL learners in regards to curriculum, support, assessment and reporting
  • ESL learners can come from many background within or outside of Australia (new arrivals, refugees, short term residents, parents from overseas, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, overlap languages such as ‘Chinglish’)
  • Support can come in many forms; differentiated curriculum, language programs, introductory English centres, extra training for teachers, providing mentors, PD for teachers and equipped teachers with a toolkit of knowledge and strategies for the classroom
  • Empower and believe in your students!

Some Strategies;

Read daily Use hand signs Use mimes and cartoons
Cloze activities Act it out drama style Explain and discuss everything
Teach language features from real texts Teach text features from real texts Model and explicitly teach comprehension
Recycle/revisit texts Picture walks Word lists
Hands on experiences Targeted editing only Environmental print is crucial!
Observe and describe Experiments and surveys Use multimedia
Construct models Create wall displays Talk in the tent activity


Break it Down, Build it Up

Break it down, Build it up focuses and contextualises language teaching and learning within the school curriculum by:
• explicitly identifying the language demands of a task/unit of work for the specific cohort of students(Break it down)
• sequencing teaching and learning to address these language demands within the curriculum focus (Build it up).
Some significant ‘layers’ of spoken languages are:

phonology [sounds] – the way sounds are organised in a language
semantics [meanings] – the way meanings are represented and conveyed
morphology [word formation] – the way words can be built up of meaningful parts
syntax [structures] – the way words are arranged to show relationships of meaning within phrases/groups and sentences
pragmatics [social usages] – the factors governing language choices in social interaction
discourse or text [communicating] the way sentences are structured, grouped and sequenced for achieving a particular purpose in a context

As a result of this PD I hope to complete a TESOL course after graduating from my Bachelor and continually work on my toolkit of knowledge, skills and strategies for teaching English.

For more information:

Australian Council of TESOL Associations
Indigenous Learners and Language
The Teaching of English as a Second Language Journal
ACARA – English as an Additional Language or Dialect: Teacher Resource (EAL/D)
Bandscales for EAL/D Learners 
Teaching EALD Learners in Australian Classrooms
ESL Resource
Lockhart State School Curriculum Framework 2012

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