Translanguaging in online learning
The education sector is undergoing a major upheaval, as teachers and students all over the world are shifting to the online classroom. While there are many factors that schools need to consider in developing their online provision, it is also important to consider how to continue to serve the needs of our language learner students. Many schools use in-class (integrated) support for language learner students (EAL/ELL) and this model is more difficult to use in the online enviroment. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, here are some ideas for supporting your language learner students effectively.
Seesaw is an online platform that many schools are already using, and also has a free version, if your school hasn't purchased it yet. There is a translate function as well, so you can better communicate with your students and their families (and they with you!). This means that work in home languages can be useful and accessible for the teacher, even if they don't speak the languages of their students.
More information here:
Google Speaker buttons is available in many (although not all) languages. If you have students who will not be able to access instructions or content in English, consider using Speaker Buttons to provide them with an own-language version to support the English instructions. It may not be perfect (and it very likely won't!) but it is still better than nothing.
Alternate reading texts: If you are using a core text in a subject, make sure you choose one that is available in other languages. If your students at home can read the core text in their own languages, they will have a better grasp of the content when it comes to dicussions, assignments, etc.
Supplement the core text with supportive resouces such as:
- key vocabulary list (including content and context words)
- guided graphic organisers, to guide their reading process in the direction of the objectives. This may be a scaffolded timeline for a history text, with the key dates on it already, or a storyboard for a fiction text.
Home language research: If students need to learn about a complex topic, give them a guided graphic organiser to follow for knowledge gathering, and have them research in their own language. This will allow them to work to their cognitive level, while gathering the information needed to meet the objectives.
Differentiated assessment: If a writing task is used as a summative assessment, consider alternate formats for your language learner students. This couls include:
- Bullet point text instead of essay format
- A poster showing key information
- A timeline, storyboard, or other, rather than a long text
- A video presentation
Any of these will allow your students to show what they have learned without as much influence from their level of English.
All of these are also useful for teachers who are still teaching face-to-face as well. For more information about translanguaging, watch these two videos: