English as an Additional Language has piloted e-portfolio on Glow as a tool to support the transition from Primary to Secondary School in the context of EAL, and to better evaluate the use of technology as an inclusive practice in the learning process.
In line with the guidance set by The Scottish Government, e-portfolio on Glow is an initiative in our local authority. Building the Curriculum 5 provides advice on developing learners’ profiles at the key transition points of Primary seven (P7) and Secondary third year (S3). The profile format may vary whenever a change is required leading to the next stages of learning.
The use of e-portfolio in the context of EAL will offer different means of communication and expression for pupils to present their own culture and background knowledge. It can reveal the ability to capture, review and manage a large amount of material. In addition, it offers flexibility, dynamic for integration, opportunities to develop and demonstrate technology skills through samples of the pupil’s work such as, photographs, videos, audio clips, projects, research and assessments. Furthermore, the e-portfolio will provide opportunities to develop ownership and show more interest in the culture in which the additional language resides. It is a way to demonstrate learners’ creativity with different emerging skills and reflect about choices to break down the barriers for learning. Teachers can access information about their pupils’ learning development, thereby also offering an opportunity for parents to appreciate the improvement.
Forfar Academy is committed to promoting inclusion for pupils whose first language is not English. In school, the EAL Co-ordinator works closely with the Visiting EAL teacher to ensure appropriate assessment and provision for the pupils in mainstream education.
At present we have a number of pupils whose home language is Polish, Latvian, Russian and Urdu. Some of these pupils have come straight into secondary education from their home country with little practice of spoken English.
To help them settle into their new environment they have been making multilingual signs to display around the building. Parents and staff have been working with pupils to ensure the translations are accurate! Basic information and instructions such as “Walk around school in an orderly manner” or naming important rooms such as “Sick Bay” or the “Assembly Hall” are now displayed in six languages: English, Gaelic, Polish, Latvian, Russian, and Urdu each with the appropriate national flag beside it. The EAL pupils say “it helps us feel comfortable in our new school”, “it helps us learn new language” and “it makes us feel happy in school”. Faculties are now considering ways of using multilingual signs in their departments to help our EAL pupils learn basic information and follow classroom rules.
SQA ESOL qualifications are being delivered for the first time at Forfar Academy which teachers have commented is making a big difference to them accessing the mainstream curriculum. Pupils are learning phrases for Everyday Communication, Transactional Language and language for Work and Study.
A lunchtime club for EAL pupils and their friends as well as creating dual language letters to send home to parents about absence notes, homework and behaviour are all further examples of initiatives taking place in Forfar to make EAL pupils feel more at ease in their new school.