As distance learning becomes the ‘new normal’, the absence of a collaborative classroom environment raises concerns that there will be fewer opportunities for learners to practise speaking English. This lockdown may be a difficult and unprecedented time, but there are ways we can flip the negative into a positive.
Photo credit: Richard Clyborne of Music Strive
FlashAcademy®, a UK-based digital language learning platform, has created a raft of free home learning project packs to help minimise disruption to English language development. One of the projects includes an EAL Pupil Podcast opportunity, offering learners the chance to practise their speaking skills at their own pace.
The project offers over 30 different topics to choose from that interests them the most. They are then encouraged to reflect on the script they have written, such as checking spelling and grammar, and listen back to the audio they’ve recorded to check their voice is loud and clear. It’s basically a three-in-one package for EAL learners to practise not just their speaking but listening and writing, too! Reflection activities are also a great way for parents to get involved.
Here are just a few of the topic ideas that might help benefit your learners’ speaking skills at home, which can even be applied to other home-schooled activities.
What is the best thing about being an EAL learner?
Usually, we celebrate multilingualism in the classroom through display boards, language corners etc. We can continue that celebration at home by encouraging your learners to respond to questions like these and more – ‘teach us a word or phrase in your home language’, ‘describe your definition of ‘culture’’ and ‘what do you wish your teachers knew about you?’.
Tell us a funny story about making a mistake with language.
Because it’s ok to get things wrong! As your learner can practise their responses at home and not in front of their peers, they may have the confidence to speak in more detail than they otherwise would have if asked in the classroom.
Choose a song in your home language. Sing, rap or read the song! Explain the song’s message/background/significance and why you like or don’t like it.
Again, your learners may not have felt as comfortable participating in this activity had they been asked at school. Music simply makes us feel good and it can enhance many learning abilities. Giving your learners the opportunity to sing or rap means they can practice pronunciation. It can also be a great way to express emotion – crucial at a time where absence of face-to-face teaching may have an impact on mental health and wellbeing.
EAL learners have diverse experiences, stories to tell and opinions to share. We need to ensure their voice is heard, nurtured and represented. Distance learning can, in fact, be a great opportunity to do so!