The video linked to here takes the viewer into Coral Way Elementary School, a world-renowned bilingual school in the United States, to see the ways they address the language learning needs of their students.

Socio-economic status notwithstanding, the language profile of the student body at Coral Way appears similar to that of Shrewsbury International School.  Seventy percent of their 1600 students arrive speaking languages other than English, and all are drawn “from one of America’s most densely populated immigrant communities”, ¹ suggesting that the lingua franca outisde of the classroom is unlikely to be English – just like us.

And, just like us, this demographic makes it all the more important that English is addressed in all mainstream teaching.  School might be the only opportunity for consistent, regular and frequent interaction with the language.

In the video you will see some of the practices that we should be engaging in at Shrewsbury if we are to give our ELLs the most effective leqarning experience.  While it is an elementary school, the highest grade is equivalent to our Year 9.  Beyond that, with a bit of imagination, the practices here are just as applicable to older students.

Click on image above or here to view the video.

The video lasts for about 40 minutes.  While you watch bear these questions in mind:

  • How does the teacher make her input comprehensible?  Do you see repetition, scaffolding, realia, adapted pace of delivery, images, pantomime?
  • How does the teacher contextualise the themes she is teaching?  How does she draw on the students’ existing schema/experience/knowledge?
  • What is the ratio of teacher talk to student talk?  How does the teacher engage all students?
  • How would you describe the lessons in terms of student involvement/active participation?
  • What does the teacher do to minimize or reduce anxiety in her students?  Why do the students need anxiety reduction strategies?
  • What could you apply in your classroom tomorrow that you have seen in this video today?