We have two full-time ESOL trained teachers in the ESOL department. Students in Year seven and eight come out of their mainstream classes for about five lessons a week, and the Year nine and ten students come to ESOL instead of mainstream English classes. Students with little English go into our Foundation English programme and have about 12 hours of ESOL classes a week. We use computers regularly for on-line reading and vocabulary activities and have two fully equipped teaching classrooms.
Why do ESOL students at AJHS do so well? We test our students carefully when they first start in our ESOL department. We know exactly how well our students can read, write and speak in English and we know what they need to learn next. We formally assess oral language, reading and writing ability three times a year so all the ESOL students know their present level in English and their “next steps” to improve.
The ESOL programme at AJHS is based on the “English Language Learning Progressions”. This is an English language programme for school students who don’t speak English, from the New Zealand Ministry of Education and it is widely used in schools throughout New Zealand. There are four different levels of ability and students move through the levels as their English skills improve and their confidence increases. Students move between ESOL groups when necessary to ensure their language needs are being met as much as possible.
Our ESOL students’ progress is measured individually. Each student’s assessment results are compared to their last assessments, not against a class mark or year level grade. Each student’s individual progress is important, as all language students learn at different rates and all language students learn different things at different times.
As the students progress in English, our teaching focus shifts from pure English language knowledge to language needed to support the mainstream subjects at school. For example, students may learn to use a new verb tense to write a historical report for social studies, or they may focus on science vocabulary and understanding instructions to follow science laboratory procedures.
Throughout the school year we also look at cultural events and activities happening around our country to help the students develop a good understanding of life and customs in New Zealand. For example, in Term 1 the students learn about Easter traditions and the origins of ANZAC day-usually accompanied by Easter eggs, hot cross buns and ANZAC biscuits! We talk about the changes in seasonal activities, sports, weather and customs each month so students develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be a “Kiwi”.
In ESOL classes at AJHS students make new friends from different countries while they work together to learn English. English is the way for our students to move from our ESOL classes, to their mainstream classes and finally out to the bigger world of senior school exams and further education beyond our school gates. We look forward to meeting you and helping you start your journey in English to the world.