Bilingual story telling

This is a reprint of an article from 2008.  Musselburgh Burgh Primary still organises bilingual story time for P1 pupils.

Unfortunately this  example of best practice should be happening more often in our schools as there are so many benefits for pupils, schools and parents.

Story time at The Burgh











Last year when her daughter was in Primary 5 the EAL teacher helped to arrange for a Polish mum to support our Art Specialist on a weekly basis. This was a great help to both the teacher and the pupils and the mum really enjoyed the experience. She is a qualified teacher and although she speaks very little English was able to communicate with the children through their artwork.

This year the same lady asked if she could help out again. She is now attending college so does not have as much time as previously.

I asked if she could come into my Primary 1 class to read stories in Polish once a fortnight. I have a Polish pupil in my class who often finds it difficult to focus during story time. We purchased bilingual story books and the mum read the Polish version and I was able to echo in English. When she heard the story in Polish, my P1 pupil was really excited and the rest of the class were fascinated. Now that they are a regular event the other children also enjoy these sessions and are beginning to predict what I am going to say based on what has been read and they are able to pick out some Polish words if they are repeated a lot within the story.

The bilingual books also go home with my pupil and she reads them with her parents who can both speak English.

We are working on Personal Account writing at the moment and I asked the pupils to draw a day out they had enjoyed. I asked the P6 Polish pupil to pop down to explain this task to her mum and my pupil. The mum then sat and supported her with her drawing and discussed the details of her picture encouraging her to add more detail when appropriate.

This collaboration has been of mutual benefit to everyone involved.

Alison Elgin. Musselburgh Burgh Primary School

Rich, Cross-Curricular Tasks and Outreach Support

I am very impressed with the cross-curricular tasks being developed in many schools. The thinking behind this type of learning fits well with the process of acquiring English through immersion in mainstream. It offers the chance to revisit language and ideas in a variety of situations, which can only be of benefit to all pupils with additional support needs.

In light of this development the involvement of Outreach teachers may have to change. With increased emphasis on group and peer support it will become more difficult to work pupils individually. The Outreach Teacher should instead be involved in the initial planning stages to suggest appropriate strategies and identify possible areas of difficulty e.g. provide glossaries for key vocabulary, adapt / simplify worksheets, use teacher materials to produce additional support such as listening practice, explain cultural issues. It is more appropriate for Outreach Teachers to be deployed as group leaders than always being linked with one pupil.

Not only do pupils benefit from having more meaningful tasks but there will be increased joint working between schools and outreach staff.

EAL News

Please go to the website to see recent postings relevant to support for pupils acquiring English as an Additional Language.

Recent topics:

Using dictionaries in secondary school

Teachers support bilingualism in the classroom

Great resource for children in the early stages of learning English

How to assess EAL pupils in Science


Dyslexia Support Service Spring Up-date

This term I have been involved in the assessment of 20 pupils and have met with the vast majority of the parents of these youngsters at least once. This is either at Staged Assessment and Intervention (SAI) meetings or more informally to discuss progress and programmes. These assessments and parental meetings are preceded by extensive consultations with colleagues. Once an identification of dyslexia has been made, we usually meet again to discuss any interventions that may be appropriate.

In addition, I have attended 23 SAI meetings about pupils already ‘on the books’. Here we confer about the action plans and decide next steps. It is at these meetings that I often commit to a teaching programme for the following term. Otherwise I attend in an advisory capacity.

It is not always appropriate or necessary for me to have face-to-face contact with pupils. My colleagues do a wonderful job. Often they just need reassurance that they are on the right track and possibly some advice about resources or methodologies to supplement the excellent work they are already doing with their learners with dyslexia.

Work with individuals and small groups of pupils focused on auditory processing strategies (11), note making (20), syllabification (6), using digital technologies to access the curriculum (30) and strategies for organisation and planning as part of a transition programme for P7’s (9).

I have spent 3 or 4 sessions in each of 6 classes teaching them the basics of Mind Mapping using Kidspiration and Inspiration and I took a P7 class for 4 sessions helping them develop higher order thinking skills.

I have spoken to groups of parents at open meetings in 2 primary schools this term and delivered an in-service session for a school as part of their Dyslexia Friendly Schools Pledge. The focus was on learning styles. The Pledge itself has had a re-vamp and is now (almost) ready to be incorporated into the literacy strategy for the region.

 A group of support for learning colleagues and I have worked together to develop user-friendly guidance for using WordTalk. I presented this to a group of practitioners at an event organised by LT Scotland. I spoke at my first TeachMeet (for 2 minutes) on this wonderful resource at the Sea Bird Centre. We hope to roll this guidance out next term.

I went to 2  secondary schools to train colleagues to interpret the computerised assessment tool, LASS, and have commented on the reports (about 20) they have prepared subsequently. Of course I have attended meetings of the Outreach Service and both Clusters too.

I was lucky enough to win a laptop and software to the value of £1000 in a competition organised by iansyst and I plan to trial some of the resources with pupils next term.

I need a holiday!