In the previous article we looked at the thorny issue of EAL learners with specific learning differences (SpLD). We discussed how identification of SpLD in EAL learners could be a long and frustrating process. We looked at some possible non-language-based assessments and, at the end of the article, discussed using a ‘language profile’ to help identify possible concerns at an early stage.
What is a language profile? A language profile is basically ‘a picture’ of a new student’s language learning history. Such profiles can be used with all students (not just EAL students) and provide valuable information to inform good teaching practice.
A language profile builds a picture of a student’s:
Crucially, for EAL students, the language profile contradicts the notion that a student is arriving with ‘no language’. It’s an invaluable tool for teachers and TAs in determining where a student fits on a learning continuum and in deciding which teaching strategies to use.
There is a second important use for a language profile. Increasingly, data is being used to guide our teaching, as well as to determine ‘effective’ resource allocation and interventions. The onus is on schools to set up data collection that is useful and insightful. Creating a ‘School Language Profile’ is one such activity that provides teachers with information to directly guide their teaching, but also produces statistical data for the school to monitor its student body.
The school where this Language Profile approach was trialled was able to collect data on all of its students. This was used to inform teaching and learning and was also used to draw up statistical models to identify the need for additional EAL support in the school. Attached is an example of the data collected.
The following example is of an effective ‘rolling’ programme to build up language profiles in a school.
(The attached ‘Language Profile’ template is an example that schools can use to build a more relevant profile for their individual situations.)
Author: Jessica Tweedie, 2014.