Making a Social Difference through Students in Schools

There is no more powerful transformative force than education (UNESCO, 2015) and no greater conduit for learning in schools than language. With approximately one in five pupils in the UK speaking English as an additional language (EAL), there is a growing need to adopt a linguistically-informed pedagogy across the curriculum to support the development of pupils’ cognitive academic language proficiency (Cummins, 1984) or academic literacies. Our study responds to this civic need by providing language pedagogy training to enhance the quality and impact of a “Students into Schools” scheme at the University of Leeds. The scheme sends students into local schools to provide literacy, numeracy and discipline-specific support on a voluntary basis or as a credit-bearing module. We deliver EAL training both to the students taking part in the scheme and for local teachers (as a CPD opportunity). Data collected from individual teacher interviews, along with online teacher and student surveys, are being used to inform the development of this training. We present initial findings that highlight the need to promote an inclusive, multicultural approach; prioritize language for learning across the curriculum; and provide strategies that develop metalinguistic awareness, facilitate communicative activities and scaffold learning through visual and contextual support. These strategies appear to benefit all pupils, including not only EAL pupils but also monolingual English-speaking pupils from traditionally disadvantaged backgrounds who lack the academic literacies to succeed in mainstream schooling.

EAL, Academic Literacies, Language Teaching Pedagogy, Multilingual Learners

2019 Special Focus: "Learning to Make a Social Difference"

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

  • Helen Sadig
    • Excellence and Innovation Fellow, Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence, University of Leeds
    • Helen Sadig is a Teaching Fellow at the University of Leeds, where she is currently on secondment to the Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence as an Excellence and Innovation Fellow. Her scholarship research is on the development of linguistically-informed pedagogy to support the development of academic literacies in children with English as an additional language. An alumna of Leeds University, Helen taught general English and English for academic purposes in Italy, Greece and Poland before joining the university in 2000, where she has also delivered bespoke language and communication training courses for international medical graduates and lecturers.
  • Cecile De Cat
    • Professor of Linguistics, University of Leeds, United Kingdom United Kingdom