Regents has just launched a cutting-edge learning programme for children aged 7 to 11 who are new to English. Known as ‘Intensive +’, the programme is unique to Regents. It is based on up-to-date research which recognizes that, whilst many mainstream subjects are a challenge for children who are new to English, it is essential that they participate in ‘active learning’ scenarios with their peers in Music, Singing, Sport and ICT.
This is in stark contrast with the traditional programmes which you find at most schools, in which children are withdrawn from their classes to be taught a completely separate curriculum. These children may be learning English but they are doing so in such a way which makes it harder for them to integrate into the mainstream classroom; which, after all, is the ultimate objective.
Although some more forward-thinking schools have understood that language-rich subjects such as English, Science, History and Geography are more accessible to beginner English learners when they are taught in smaller groups, what makes Regents’ Intensive + programme stand out from the rest is the following:
· ‘Intensive +’ students are being taught how to learn through English and are therefore accessing the English National Curriculum right from their very first day at Regents. Each lesson is an adaptation of a mainstream lesson, with a stronger focus on language building so that each child learns through English whilst being challenged academically.
· A variety of methods are used to make lessons interesting and accessible, such as ‘Talk for Writing’, cooperative learning, active punctuation, an emphasis on phonics and the use of digital devices such as iPads and Apple T.V.
· Smaller group sizes aid shy or unconfident children to speak and take part more willingly, which aids their progress. These small groups also assist teachers to personalise lessons for every child. Weekly planning meetings between EAL teachers and their mainstream colleagues ensure close liaison between learning experiences in mainstream and ‘Intensive +’.
· The ‘Intensive +’ team are all qualified, experienced teachers who are also experts in teaching English as an Additional Language. What they have in common is that they all feel passionately that this programme is the best way to serve the needs of children who, albeit from many different countries and backgrounds, are new to English.
By Kaz Michalak, Head of Primary EAL