Dr. Naomi Flynn (Associate Professor of Primary English Education at the University of Reading’s Institute of Education) was recently invited to share ideas around the teaching of children with English as an Additional Language (EAL) with a group of teachers associated with Aspirer Research School – Teaching School Alliance. Aspirer is a consortium of schools who are committed to evidence-based teaching practice and this was Naomi’s third invitation to share her research-to-practice thinking with them. Presenting at Wilbraham Primary School in Manchester, Naomi chatted with teachers and bilingual assistants interested in sharing practice for children who have EAL.
Naomi asked first for some discussion of the survey outcomes from her EAL Teaching in England Survey (Flynn & Curdt-Christiansen, 2018). Specifically, Naomi wanted to know how practitioners respond to the idea of using children’s home languages in the classroom, and she got some fascinating answers from this multilingual and very experienced group of practitioners.
In return for this useful addition to her research data, Naomi shared her favourite observations of great EAL practice in the US which she observed during a visit last year. The audience particularly liked the teaching strategy of ‘fishbowl technique’ using sentence starters to promote discussion with both monolingual and multilingual children, and left the event fired up with enthusiasm to try this in their own classrooms. Naomi is currently working on an article reporting on her US observations with teacher educator colleagues in Indiana and Nebraska, and she hopes to make a return visit to capture more inspiring EAL practice in 2019.