In 2012, TEAN presented a highly successful event which explored linguistic development and cultural awareness (English as an Additional Language: Exploring development and cultural awareness’ March 2012). Delegates were eager for a follow-up day and this was held at the Lancaster campus of the University of Cumbria on 21 March 2013.
Government policies are in a state of flux with new initiatives appearing all the time and there is a real danger that the complexity of minority needs may be overlooked. We looked here to move the debate forward; to discuss and raise issues about EAL (English as an Additional Language) and Cultural Diversity as two arms of the same body. TEAN is very grateful to Diane Warner from the University of Cumbria for the inspiration for the event and her support in the planning and execution of the day. The event also looked to support student teachers to understand the needs of other cultures in their classrooms – both in group situations and as individuals within a multicultural situation or a predominantly monocultural situation. How can culture affect learning? Why do students continue to feel underprepared? How do different subject areas deal with ethnic minorities and EAL?
TEAN was delighted to welcome back Dr Jean Conteh to give the first keynote address of the day. Jean has worked as a primary teacher and teacher educator in different countries for many years. For the past 20 years, she has worked as a teacher educator on PGCE Primary, BA QTS and MA courses in West Yorkshire and has gained considerable experience in the growing field of EAL. In her latest book - ‘Teaching bilingual and EAL learners in primary schools. Transforming Primary QTS’ – she reconsiders which children should come under the umbrella of EAL and provides practical strategies for teaching them in an inclusive classroom. The book asks 'what do we mean by EAL?' and covers essential theories of learning and approaches to teaching. Jean addressed delegate on ‘Global voices in local spaces: new challenges for language diversity in teacher education’. She discussed many highly interesting ideas; the importance of bilingualism - we are disadvantaged in this country because of our monolingualism; multilingualism – this is being ‘contained’ in mainstream classrooms here rather than being welcomed and used; ‘translanguaging’ - an asset which can be used as a teaching strategy, not ignored or suppressed. ‘It’s more complicated than you think’ was the verdict of one of Jean’s students, but this was an excellent start to understanding some of that complexity.
Jean has also kindly offered her reading listfor the TEAN website.
TEAN was also delighted to welcome Dr Vini Lander to begin the afternoon with our second keynote. Vini Lander is the Head of the BA (Hons) Primary Education and Programme Coordinator for BA (Hons) Primary Education & Teaching at the University of Chichester. She worked in mainstream schools teaching science and A level Biology for a number of years. In the latter part of her time in schools she worked as a Section 11 Schools Liaison teacher and teacher in charge of pupils with English as an Additional Language. As part of her role as Deputy Director of Multiverse Vini delivered training sessions to student teachers and teacher educators on diversity, inclusion and achievement across the country and in Germany. Her research interests lie in the field of diversity and initial teacher education. Vini’s intriguing title for the TEAN event was: ‘Race and Culture: The presence of absence in the curriculum’. Why do minority cultures not feature in the classroom? Does ‘fitting in’ mean that children leave their ethnicity at the school gates? Why do students feel unprepared? In this fascinating talk, Vini spoke of the disparity between race equality legislation and the failure of teacher education to prepare teachers positively for ethnically diverse classrooms. She went on to provide a framework to address the ‘absence of presence’, suggesting strongly that students should be troubled about the presence of absence.
Between the keynotes TEAN was extremely grateful to Diane Warner, James Burch and Sally Elton-Chalcraft for leading delegates in discussion groups on: the New National Curriculum, Working with Students and Ofsted. The notes here offer a rich repository of ideas from across the sector, inspired by the input of the speakers of the day. There is plenty here from which to draw inspiration to use with your students.
The final word goes to a student who attended the event: ‘As a student, I would really benefit from more input and a “deeper thinking” and discussion opportunity.’ This event went some way to providing that and hopefully the discussions will continue.
Other papers and links from the day: