An effective EAL program needs to include all areas of language acquisition; reading, listening, writingand speaking. At ISC, we emphasize each area equally, but extra attention is paid to encouraging an abundance of talking in the classroom. Often, when I am out with my husband, we are the only people in the restaurant who are talking to each other. We often see whole families on devices. As a teacher, I end up asking myself if the art of conversation, is a skill that our children are being deprived of as technology becomes so predominant in their lives? We do not want this to happen to children at our school.
Daily, I build talking skills into our EAL routines; responding appropriately to a read aloud, giving one minute speeches, working with a friend to edit work together, retelling stories and always finding time to listen to whatever the children want to contribute to class discussions. The result is that levels of confidence and conversational skills improve immeasurably. Children make eye contact, they project their voices, and they learn to talk to each other. We have high expectations so I don't dumb down the language I use. I read chapters from a carefully selected novel each day. They love Roald Dahl! Yes, the language is complex but it is amazing how words like fantastic, disgusting, and scrunch can find
their way in to their vocabulary.
Teachers should not let classroom displays form the basis of a language rich classroom. They have a role but, more than anything, genuinely engaging EAL children in conversation should be a priority - and not just in EAL classrooms.