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Differentiating for BMLs at Different Stages of English Proficiency’

WEDNESDAY, 25th NOVEMBER, 2020  

Get Access to this Webinar for 48 hours (from 7 PM, LONDON, UK TIME)

MOST TEACHERS KNOW THAT ‘DIFFERENTIATING INSTRUCTION’ IS NECESSARY FOR HELPING THEIR BMLS ACCESS THE CURRICULUM BUT MANY STRUGGLE WITH EFFECTIVE & EFFICIENT IMPLEMENTATION

In this focused training, we help you get into the ‘mindset’ of differentiation – why you need to do it and how to implement it from a practical perspective. We’ll share the most important considerations to help you work smarter and with greater impact.

Working with diverse classrooms means that ‘differentiation’ has to be an essential approach at the heart of all your teaching and learning practises. This is actually one of the most challenging aspects of teaching since there are many ‘moving parts’ to consider. Ensuring that students experience the right level of challenge is important; and to do that we must understand our BMLs’ English proficiency levels. As a BML moves from ‘beginner’ to more advanced levels of proficiency, their needs for differentiation will change. This webinar will help you understand all these considerations and will give you practical tips and key takeaways, no matter what age or subject you teach!

This webinar is suitable for school administrators, teachers and teaching assistants. We’ll be discussing learning issues in the context of different age groups and levels.

JOIN AUTHORS, CONSULTANTS AND LEARNING SPECIALISTS, ALISON SCHOFIELD AND FRANCESCA MCGEARY AS THEY GIVE YOU REAL-LIFE STRATEGIES AND NEW UNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION AND THE BML POPULATION. GET READY TO ADD NEW STRATEGIES TO YOUR TEACHING TOOLKIT!

Sign-up Now to Gain Access to this Webinar on Wednesday, 25th November, 2020!

WHAT ELSE YOU CAN EXPECT TO LEARN IN THIS TRAINING:

  • What is ‘differentiation’? When do we need to implement it?
  • Differentiating for BMLs has specific considerations related to their English proficiency levels
  • Understand how you can make your lessons accessible by allowing multiple entry points into the learning
  • Learn how to ‘work smarter, not harder’ when it comes to differentiating for BMLs of different levels
  • Understand key learning principles and theories that underpin ‘differentiated instruction’ and why it’s valuable to dedicate professional learning to this area
  • See some practical tips, ideas and strategies for differentiating content with BMLs at different levels, grades/year-groups and English proficiency levels
  • Find out how to easily link assessment approaches to your differentiated instruction

#DIALOGUE 2: Recognise your BMLs’ Assets

#DIALOGUE 2: Recognise your BMLs’ Assets

There are so many reasons why you should shift to a ‘multilingual mindset’ with your bilingual and multilingual learners (BMLs, ESL, ELLs). Acknowledging that your learners bring rich linguistic and cultural experiences into the English classroom can really help them to be seen and valued.

Using asset-based language such as: ‘bilingual and multilingual learners’ or simply, ‘multilingual,’ can have a powerful impact in the way you view your learners.

JOIN OUR FREE, OCTOBER WEBINAR!

JOIN OUR FREE, OCTOBER WEBINAR!

  REGISTER FOR OUR FREE, PRE-RECORDED WEBINAR TRAINING

The Literacy Needs of Bilingual and Multilingual Learners’

WEDNESDAY, 28th OCTOBER, 2020  

Get Access to this Webinar for 48 hours (from 7 PM, LONDON, UK TIME)

LITERACY IS IMPORTANT FOR SO MANY LIFE-SKILLS AND EVERY SINGLE SUBJECT IN SCHOOL. DID YOU KNOW THERE ARE SPECIFIC FACTORS THAT CAN MAKE IT MORE CHALLENGING FOR YOUR BMLS TO MAKE GOOD, CONSISTENT PROGRESS IN THEIR LITERACY DEVELOPMENT?

In this session, we’ll unravel key aspects of research and practise that are relevant to BMLs (aka ESL, ELL students) and their ability to thrive academically. We’ll dive deep, focusing on real action points that you can implement within your school and classroom, immediately.

In most cases, educators are not trained to understand the intricacies of literacy development with our BML population. Too often, focused literacy instruction is stopped after students have mastered ‘learning to read.’ However, as they shift to ‘reading to learn,’ they need more exposure, support and guidance than ever before. Since most BMLs tend to be ‘behind’ in their reading and writing skills as compared to their grade/year-level expectations; this means they need a special emphasis on literacy at each and every stage-even into secondary. This session will give you more insights about how you can make changes that will have your BMLs making leaps and bounds in their literacy progress.

This webinar is suitable for school administrators, teachers and teaching assistants. We’ll be discussing learning issues in the context of different age groups and levels.

JOIN AUTHORS, CONSULTANTS AND LEARNING SPECIALISTS, ALISON SCHOFIELD AND FRANCESCA MCGEARY AS THEY GIVE YOU REAL-LIFE STRATEGIES AND NEW UNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT LITERACY DEVELOPMENT AND THE BML POPULATION. GET READY TO ADD NEW STRATEGIES TO YOUR TEACHING TOOLKIT!

Sign-up Now to Gain Access to this Webinar on Wednesday, 28th October, 2020!

WHAT ELSE YOU CAN EXPECT TO LEARN IN THIS TRAINING:

  • Find out why BMLs’ literacy needs are different to native speakers’
  • Get to know more about the development of literacy and why BMLs can struggle at specific stages
  • Understand why acceleration is necessary for BMLs to make enough progress each academic year
  • Find out why some students have difficulties with comprehension and what you can do about it
  • Learn where to put your energy and focus for maximum impact
  • Discover why ‘instructional levels’ can make or break a student’s progress in reading
  • Learn the key strategies that can ‘change the game’ for your BMLs and their literacy development
  • Understand why literacy MUST be a focus across every age group
  • Find out about some recommended resources

JOIN OUR FREE, SEPTEMBER WEBINAR!

JOIN OUR FREE, SEPTEMBER WEBINAR!

  REGISTER FOR OUR FREE, PRE-RECORDED WEBINAR TRAINING

‘Getting to the Bottom of your BMLs’ Barriers:
What to do if you Suspect your BML has Learning Issues’

WEDNESDAY, 30 SEPTEMBER, 2020  

Get Access to this Webinar for 24 hours, from 12 PM (LONDON, UK TIME)

YOU KNOW YOUR BMLS ARE STILL ACQUIRING ENGLISH, SO STRUGGLE CAN BE NORMAL; BUT WHAT IF IT’S A SIGN OF SOMETHING MORE? WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW AND WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU THINK A BML HAS A LEARNING ISSUE?

This can be a tricky situation! On one hand you know these learners are just as likely to experience a special educational need as any other student; yet, you also understand that BMLs are found to be over-represented in special education settings. What can you do to support your learner and prevent unnecessary labelling or diagnosis of a learning disorder?

If you’d like more confidence in understanding the complexity of this situation with very clear action steps, this training is for you! Whether you’re thinking about one particular student in your classroom or considering building stronger policies for your school, you’ll gain actionable takeaways.

This webinar is suitable for school administrators, teachers and teaching assistants. We’ll be discussing learning issues in the context of different age groups and levels.

JOIN AUTHOR, CONSULTANT AND LEARNING SPECIALIST, ALISON SCHOFIELD, AS SHE LEADS YOU THROUGH A HIGHLY-PRACTICAL TRAINING. DESIGNED TO HELP YOU GAIN GREATER EXPERTISE WITH YOUR BMLS, SHE’LL NOT ONLY GIVE YOU NEW WAYS OF UNDERSTANDING THIS COMPLEX ISSUE, SHE AIMS TO GIVE YOU A SOLID PLAN AND STRATEGY GOING FORWARD. 

Sign-up Now to Gain Access to this Webinar on Wednesday, 30th September, 2020!

WHAT ELSE YOU CAN EXPECT TO LEARN IN THIS TRAINING:

  • You’ll understand WHY this information is so critical for every educator to grasp
  • Learn about the range of ‘typical’ language acquisition in BMLs and areas they can expect to struggle across different stages
  • Understand how BMLs can display a range of observable behaviours that can mimic a learning disorder
  • Learn about cultural bias and other key testing considerations ; understand why standardised tests shouldn’t be your first step
  • Find out how you can use ‘dynamic assessment’ and other types of evaluation to gain deeper insights
  • Get a practical plan of action that you can implement with your learner or even include within your school policies; this includes dynamic assessment

#DIALOGUE 1: Should BMLs be Serviced in Special Education/Learning Support Departments?

#DIALOGUE 1: Should BMLs be Serviced in Special Education/Learning Support Departments?

This session is dedicated to one of the most popular questions teachers have about serving their BMLs: can these students be supported within the special educational needs or learning support department? Our Co-Founders, Francesca McGeary and Alison Schofield, clarify this issue and offer 3 important considerations for schools and educators:

  • It’s not a good idea unless one essential condition is met
  • This is an ethical and even legal issue
  • A suggestion is offered for schools to find a model of service that is well-established and sound

Watch the video below:

IDEA #4: Get your Bilingual/Multilingual Learners to Vlog!

IDEA #4: Get your Bilingual/Multilingual Learners to Vlog!

Over this week, I’ll be sharing 5 posts-all of them focused on ideas for online learning with your BMLs. Since some teachers have limited access to their students and learning materials at this time, these ideas are quick-win strategies you can implement right away. This is blog post #4 out of 5. You can find the others in previous posts.

Vlogging, or video-blogging, is a great way to share knowledge, thoughts and ideas with the world. Especially at this time, vlogging can be a fun and interesting format for students to share things about themselves and their lives more meaningfully.

Having students vlog to highlight what they’re doing when they’re away from school can be a powerful collective activity. This pandemic provides us with a unique opportunity to connect with other parts of our lives we may not have had time for previously. ‘Slow’ is the new normal and many of us are finding different experiences to keep us busy and enrich our lives. It can be the same for students and their families. For instance, some are discovering cooking and baking; some are learning new hobbies like gardening or even playing board games. Vlogging can be a great way to bring spark motivation and interest amongst your learners and this can create a fabulous medium for conversation and discussion.

A GOOD PLACE TO START

You might like to start your learners off with ‘a day in the life’ vlog and ask them to upload short videos with an explanation of the content. Right now, we’re all getting a little taste of what we thought the future might be like–having to use online channels for basically everything–to communicate, connect and work. Vlogs can actually help your learners build greater connection with their peers and families and can build up their proficiency with storytelling.

Storytelling with multimedia is a high-value skill in our New Economy; so helping students become skilled at telling their own stories is not a waste of time! Storytelling often involves sharing with a specific purpose and we want our students to see that they need to be clear on their purpose before they begin their project. Have them think carefully planning and executing the creation (and sharing) of their stories.

Once again, don’t forget to provide clear prompts that get them to focus on the right content for the vlog. For example, you might want to pose a question like, ‘How is culture an important part of our daily life?’ and then do some brainstorming with students before they go out and film. After, get them to make a list of 3-5 ideas and ‘storyboard’ the shots they want to film (e.g. sketch an image of what they want to film in a series of square boxes). This will help them be more targeted about what on what they need to capture for their short film.

If you want to dig deeper into vlogging and storytelling with your students, there are numerous ways to do that depending on what your goals are. You could consider time-lapse videos, interviews, silent pictures or even a ‘docu-series’. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could also have a ‘film festival’ with a ‘watch party’, judges and awards! These are just a few ideas but your students will certainly have many more if you brainstorm together.

Alison Schofield is an educator, consultant and co-founder of the Centre for Educators of BMLs. She loves sharing her expertise with teachers around the world. She’s especially passionate about literacy and learning approaches with BMLs. If you have any questions about this article or even an idea for another article, feel free to reach Alison at: alison@educatorsofbmls.com

IDEA #3: Spark Learning with Home Languages & Home Activities for Bilingual & Multilingual Learners

IDEA #3: Spark Learning with Home Languages & Home Activities for Bilingual & Multilingual Learners

Over this week, I’ll be sharing 5 posts-all of them focused on ideas for online learning with your BMLs. Since some teachers have limited access to their students and learning materials at this time, these ideas are quick-win strategies you can implement right away. This is blog post #3 out of 5. You can find the others in previous posts.

Let’s face it, online learning can be a really stressful time for students, teachers and parents. There’s a huge learning curve and many educators are finding their BMLs are not as responsive or participatory as they’d like.

Engagement and participation are key elements of successful learning, no matter what style or format– in-person, online or blended models. Quality learning takes place when students are interested and motivated to demonstrate what they’ve learned . Both of these factors can be negatively impacted with online learning since many BMLs rely heavily on human connection and social interaction for support. For example, they often require gestures and social cues from the environment to scaffold their comprehension. This can be extremely difficult to replicate in online learning formats, especially if there are many learners in ‘class’ and several competing distractions to cope with.

As much as some wanted to believe that online learning would solve the ills of traditional education, this pandemic has shown us just how valuable face-to-face interaction with educators truly is. Online learning always presented a wonderful opportunity for student enrichment; but a human component was always going to be necessary. For BMLs, it’s absolutely critical.

If teachers aren’t able to reach their BMLs right now, it’s completely understandable. There are just so many ups-and-downs. One day might be productive and students manage to participate fully; but then another might see students overwhelmed and unreachable. This unpredictability can take its toll on teachers who are naturally trying to over-compensate, even trying to connect with BMLs in a multitude of different ways–through phone calls, chats or regular emails, for instance. The lengths that many teachers are going through to connect with their students is truly inspiring but in many ways, unsustainable.

Considering all these issues, teachers should feel free to embrace non-traditional forms of learning. For some who may not be used to incorporating students’ home languages into their teaching, there’s never been a better time! Since many BMLs have strong home languages and are even literate in those languages, this makes it the perfect resource to support their thinking and learning.

I know it can seem counter-intuitive, especially if you’re supposed to teach your student English; but don’t forget that one’s languages actually support one-another. If you remember the CUP (Common Underlying Proficiency) theory from Jim Cummins, it explains how the linguistic knowledge and skills that an individual acquires in one language can be shared across all of their languages. When BMLs are using their home languages to research, think and discuss, that’s actually going to help them with their English development AND their concept-learning. Just that little bit of information packs a very powerful punch, especially considering these trying times!

DIFFERENT WAYS OF LEARNING THROUGH HOME LANGUAGES

  • Flip the ‘Classroom’: Have your students learn key concepts through some form of self-study before they come to the lesson. Then, instead of actively trying to ‘teach’ and break down these concepts, you’re able to ‘work with the concepts’ more actively as students already understand the background information. This could mean having deep discussions about specific concepts or getting students to create something based on what they’ve learned. The key to making a flipped classroom work is that you need to be sure you scaffold the learning expectations for them. BMLs often thrive with clear steps to follow so offer them a graphic organiser to record 2-3 key questions they have to research. This will give them the structure they need to follow through.
  • Write a Journal Entry: Have BMLs write in their home languages if they’re comfortable. Encourage them to explore a range of topics (either teacher-directed or student-selected) and then let them share some of their writing entries if they’d like. Students can even summarise what they’ve written in English (at their own levels).
  • Connect with a Good Book: Ask students to read a good book in their language. They might already have some books around the house but if not, they might be able to find some online books available to them for free (or a small fee) online.
  • Allow Students to Showcase Hobbies and Talents: Many BMLs are spending more time with their families; often speaking their home languages. This is great–not only for building their language skills but also for fostering engagement and shared experiences through those languages. Some children might be spending more time playing Lego, learning to cook, playing Backgammon or even singing and dancing. Think of different ways students can showcase their talents and home activities with their classmates. While we often think of traditional forms of learning as more valuable; play, creating and using one’s talents are just as powerful for personal and social-development.

Even if your BMLs don’t have a strong home language and prefer to use English, they can still receive many benefits from the activities above. These can facilitate independence and success, even if they’ve traditionally required more support from their teachers to break down their learning.

Online learning is not always an ideal solution for activating deep, connected learning for BMLs, or any students. However, these unprecedented times call for creative approaches that make full use of what we already have–different languages, talents, resources and role models. I encourage teachers to give themselves permission ‘let go’ a little and allow home experiences to take the lead in your students’ learning if it means they’re more engaged and motivated. Let students help develop their own learning plan ot outline a list of pursuits for the week. These experiences can then be the catalyst for more sharing and participation during ‘class.’ Parents too, might also feel they can better facilitate their child’s learning and development with this approach. It can even build family connection, reduce stress and increase happiness and well-being.

Alison Schofield is an educator, consultant and Co-Founder of the Centre for Educators of BMLs. She loves sharing her expertise with teachers around the world and she’s especially passionate about literacy and learning approaches with BMLs. If you have any questions about this article or even a request for another article, feel free to reach Alison at: alison@educatorsofbmls.com

‘Multilingual-Positive Practises’ Replace ‘English-Only’ Policies

‘Multilingual-Positive Practises’ Replace ‘English-Only’ Policies

While a large population of bilingual and multilingual learners (BMLs) in schools used to seem like an issue only for inner city schools in capitals like London, New York, Sydney or Toronto, things have changed dramatically.  Now, even schools in rural areas are encountering more BMLs arriving and making up a large part of their student body. Even within international schools, a growing number of ‘local’ parents are opting to educate their children in English medium private schools rather than their own national systems.  As such, all teachers now need to have the right skill sets to understand the needs of these children and how to help them thrive.

A reality of our time is that school leaders and educators must come to terms with the reality of the changing demographic in the student body. Some schools are still teaching as they have always done, even while the cohort has changed dramatically. Many don’t recognise the urgent need (and benefits) of having fully trained, BML-experienced teachers within their classrooms; and those who do, often struggle to know what to put in place.

However, there are some great schools leading the way in the changes to how they’re supporting BMLs.  Administrators are looking for teachers with more BML experience when they hire, they make PD a priority and they ensure that mainstream teachers have the support they need in their classrooms. Great schools are aware that outdated policies and practises need updating in order to reflect their new teaching and learning approaches as well.  For instance, the ‘English only’ policy used to be thought of as an appropriate policy to encourage learners’ English language development-helping them assimilate into their new community and integrate faster.  We now know that a policy like this actually has negative effects because it devalues the home language and cultures of students. This can have a long-lasting, negative impact. Similarly, focusing on a curriculum which many BMLs cannot relate to, encourages students to look at issues through a ‘dominant lens’ rather than through multiple perspectives and world-views. Some schools are now starting to recognise that they need to adopt new policies and perspectives, going forward.

One of the biggest shifts schools need to make is to encourage students’ home languages as the foundation for learning. This is just as equally, if not more important, than simply having them learn English quickly. Children establish familial relationships through home languages along with a vocabulary base and important cultural knowledge. While many school leaders don’t realise it, they actually play a huge role in determining whether bilingual and multilingual families will maintain their languages or not. If the school gives the ‘English only’ message (directly or indirectly), parents can often switch to English at home, believing this is necessary if their child is to succeed in an English school. They believe that only one language should be prioritised. School heads and principals, like many other educators, often don’t learn the essential knowledge-base about language acquisition and why this is, in fact, a myth.

Another powerful teaching approach that all educators need to implement is making sure their BMLs receive comprehensible input. This means, in practical terms, that the instruction and content need to be made accessible for BMLs to learn and work at instructional and independent levels. This doesn’t have to mean more preparation or work for the teacher. That’s a misconception.  It does mean working smarter and thinking more creatively about how to deliver the learning to match students’ varying ability levels. For instance, a complete beginner in English could research the answers to questions that match the learning objectives or goals set by the curriculum but in their home language.  Then, depending on their ability level, they could demonstrate what they’ve learnt through performance tasks or group work, still benefiting from English exposure. There are multiple ways of adapting lessons and learning assessments. Teachers simply need access to these strategies. Training and support are often needed to be sure teachers are skilled enough to know how to do this.

With the increasing numbers of BMLs entering English-medium schools, it’s even more important to empower educators and school heads with the right knowledge and expertise. When they start to view bilingualism and multilingualism as huge assets and give students what they need to thrive, they’ll be helping BMLs become successful, positive contributors to a multicultural, multilingual world.

Photo Credit: Canadian International School, Singapore

If you’d like to enrol in our outstanding courses for educators, click HERE to see our course calendar and learn more. We also run whole-school and group courses for teachers as well as principal courses and TA courses.

 

 

 

Announcement: Our New Name & Location!

Announcement: Our New Name & Location!

We’re off to a great start to 2018 with a new location for our institute! We are pleased to announce we are now located in Canterbury, UK. During the move, we’ve had to modify our business name so we are now ‘Centre for Educators of Bilingual and Multilingual Learners Ltd.’

All of our courses and services remain unchanged and we hope our new move will enable greater opportunities and new partnerships.

Feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions or enquiries.

Alison Schofield & Francesca McGeary

Co-Founders

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