Our ESOL students come from many different countries, with some students speaking two or more languages before they start to learn English.
We currently have two ESOL trained teachers in the ESOL Department. Students in Year seven, eight and nine come out of their mainstream classes for two lessons a week. The Year ten students have one class together, along with a smaller group tutorial based around individual assignments the students are working on. It is important that language and concepts support academic and social integration into regular classrooms.
Students with little English go into our foundation English programme, and have up to five classes per week. We use computers regularly for online reading and vocabulary activities, and have two fully equipped teaching rooms.
Why do ESOL students at AJHS do so well? We assess our students when they first start in our ESOL Department. We know exactly how well our students can read, comprehend, write and speak English, and we know what they need to learn next. We formally assess oral, reading and writing abilities three times a year, so all ESOL students know their present level in English and the ‘next steps’ needed to improve.
The ESOL programme at AJHS is based on the ‘English Language Learning Progressions’ (ELLP). This is an English language programme from the New Zealand Ministry of Education, for school students who don’t speak English. It is widely used in schools throughout Aotearoa, New Zealand. This programme outlines 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 at their own pace 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. These results are posted on the student’s individual school report. 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 English language knowledge to the language required to support mainstream subjects at school. For example, students may learn to use a new verb tense to write a historical report for humanities, or they may focus on science or math vocabulary, or the language of instructions to follow science laboratory procedures.
Throughout the year, we also identify and discuss relevant cultural events and activities happening around our country to help students develop a good understanding of life and customs in Aotearoa, New Zealand. For example, in term one the students learn about the origins of Waitangi Day and ANZAC day. Part of the programme focuses on identifying the language of everyday living in New Zealand, so the students develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be a ‘Kiwi’.
In their 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 wider 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.