Supporting English as an Additional Language
by the EAL teaching team
Learning both content and language at the same time can be a formidable challenge for language learners. The English as an Additional Language (EAL) program supports students who require additional language assistance to help them fully access the mainstream curriculum.
The aim for the EAL team is to become an integral part of the broader language instruction at YIS. As language specialists, we work alongside classroom teachers and content specialists to deliver a curriculum that is accessible to all language learners. In doing so, we provide support for those emergent bilingual students and provide sufficient challenge to those who are fluent in English.
YIS is a school that continuously reflects on its practices. The EAL team is no different. We recognise that there are always ways that we can improve. We aim to find better ways of supporting our language learners and moving our program, and language learning on the whole, forward. As part of this process, we reached out to all the international schools in Japan to invite specialists to a day-long conference at YIS where major issues in the field were discussed. The participants shared ideas, brainstormed solutions to common problems and compared processes and procedures. Fifteen schools were represented from the Japan Council of International Schools. Throughout the day, there was generous and honest sharing from participants about what they saw as areas of strength and areas for growth within their EAL programs. The opportunity for us to gain some perspectives on our current practice and listen to how other schools work with language learning was an incredibly valuable one, especially as many of our colleagues face similar issues and restrictions as we do. We will take what we have learned and continue to reach out to contacts that were made on the day to strive to improve for our students. We feel confident that we are taking steps in the right direction to achieve this.
Finding solutions and improvements to common issues with determined and passionate specialists in our field was an inspiring process. The positive energy on the day was tangible as was the collective feeling of gratitude for the time and the opportunity to discuss essential elements of daily roles and responsibilities.
So what next? The YIS team will reflect on the event and share the points that struck us as ideas that we could incorporate into our program. We will reach out to the contacts we made and begin the process of making changes - small everyday changes in our teaching, and larger changes to our program. We will continue to use every opportunity to raise the level of language learning for all our students.
The EAL teaching team consists of Mr. Graham Laing, Mrs. Jennifer Lemery and Mr. David Schneer.