At the beginning of a new academic year, the EAL department at the secondary school I work at conduct a language survey with the entire Y7 cohort. The survey is done on Y7’s first day in school as part of their induction program. It provides us with vital information on all our new students that is part of the process in helping us identify learners who might need the support of the EAL department.
The survey includes the following quetions:
- What language(s) do you speak at home with your parents / career?
- What other languages can you speak?
- What languages can you read?
- What languages can you write?
- At your primary school, did you get help with your English?
- Were your born in U.K.? ________________________________
If NO where were you born? _______________________When did you come to live in the UK? ___________________
Once we have collected the language surveys, we analyse learner answers to discover the following:
- We collate information on the different languages spoken by our new Y7s and then create a ‘Y7 languages we speak’ poster which is then displayed in all Y7 form rooms. In this way we are trying to promote languages and the multilingual environment the school attempts to create.
- If there are any learners who have been in the UK for 2 years or under, we then have a follow up conversation to establish a quick shot proficiency in English judgement and if there might be a need for additional support from the EAL department. At least 2 weeks after they have been in school I might then conduct further assessments such as in writing and reading to establish a more concreate proficiency in English level.
- We also have follow up conversations with learner’s who have stated they received support with their English at primary school.
- If we identify learners who are codes A & B (DfE Proficiency in English Codes) they are then put on the EAL department’s list and I create a support plan for them. The support plan has a list of strategies teachers can use as well as background information on the student. In terms of classroom strategies, I find The Bell Foundation’s classroom strategies are ideal for this. Over time, these strategies might be more personalised to the learners as we and mainstream teachers work with the learner.
Conducting the language survey at the beginning of the new academic year has a number of benefits to us. Getting such vital information, particularly about learners on codes A & B, helps us provide the targeted support they might need both in class and pastorally. We also hope it helps provide a smoother transition into secondary school.