One of the main things that we have implemented in my school this year for our EAL learners are language development targets. These targets are for them to meet in their mainstream lessons and give them a focus on developing their language and content knowledge together.
I think it is important for our EAL learners to have both content and language targets to help them see how their language is progressing as well as their content knowledge. It also helps me show how they are making progress. Language development targets can take the form of any of the four skills: reading, writing, listening or speaking and can also include sub categories inside any of the four skills. For example, a target of speaking might also involve learning vocabulary in a particular subject and then communicating that vocabulary knowledge, through speaking to a teacher or teaching assistant. Other targets that we have set have included:
- In writing – to write a short cohesive paragraph using connectives such as: firstly, for example, however etc. I will do this in 3 different subjects.
- In listening – when the teacher is speaking I will show evidence of listening by writing down 1 thing that the teacher has said. I will do this in at least 3 different subjects.
We ensure that the targets are SMART targets that is – S = Specific, M = Measurable, A = Achievable, R = Realistic, T = targeted. In this way we know that we are setting targets that ensure that progression can be shown and evidenced. Learners are given a language development target once a term at the moment but this might increase in the future to be once every half term. We measure targets against The Bell Foundation assessment framework which helps us to clearly identify specific language development targets.
It has been fun to see them engage in the process and meet their targets in a wide range of subject areas. Yes, learners need constant reminders of their targets and some need constant reminders of how they can meet their targets but it has been good to see an increase in their motivation to meet their target. Teachers have also engaged in the process and have been extremely supportive of the learners in helping them to meet their targets.
Our learners show evidence of meeting their targets by speaking to one of my team or by getting targets signed off by their mainstream teacher. I also communicate each learners target with their mainstream teacher via email so that they are aware of what the learner will be working on developing.
Setting targets for our EAL learners has enabled our learners to see how language progression in the mainstream supports their learning. Targets act as additional motivation to them as they meet targets in different subject areas. I would recommend setting language development targets for your EAL learners to achieve in the mainstream.